Retirement has been a prominent topic in the news over the last two weeks. With Alex Ferguson shocking the world last week with his decision to retire as the Manchester United manager, this week we have heard the news that “Golden Balls” himself is set to hang up his boots at the age of 38. After a career that has spanned two continents, 5 different countries, 115 England caps, a boot to the face and a countless amount of haircuts. We have taken a look back at “Beckham” the brand and how he has followed a familiar path to becoming one of the biggest brands in the world.
To put it quite simply, there is no one quite like Beckham. He was a world class footballer in his prime, a dedicated athlete right until the end of his career, a staunch patriot, a fashion model, a global icon and celebrity all rolled into one. David Beckham has become one of the most powerful brands in the world today and his retirement certainly won’t spell the end of that, we are merely opening a new chapter.
So let’s takes you through David Beckham’s 8 Step Guide to Building a Brand:
Growing up in Leytonstone East London a young Beckham had eyes for only one thing, a football. All brands start with an idea or a drive to get somewhere. Beckham certainly had all of this in abundance. Being a fanatical Manchester United fan he set his sites on Old Trafford and achieving his dream of playing for the Manchester United first team.
When David Beckham returned to Manchester United in 1995 after a season long loan at Preston North End he was thrown straight into the first team. Along with five other players who had come through the youth ranks, Beckham formed an integral part of a team named “Fergie’s Fledglings”. A group of players who would form the nucleus of the Manchester United side for years to come.
If you look at any big brand, Apple, Coca Cola or Nike, they are all instantly recognisable anywhere on the planet. Beckham’s career has taken him from Manchester, to Madrid, to the Hollywood hills of Los Angeles, and to Paris via a few spells in Milan. A global superstar on every level, he probably didn’t need to play football in these far and exotic places to make a name for himself all over the globe, he had already done that. Although it didn’t do him any harm.
Over the past 20 years the public have tuned in to watch Beckham play or sometimes just to see what his latest hairstyle will be. In his early days when he had the curtains, the kids on the street had curtains. When he shaved his locks at the beginning of the millennium it started a media frenzy that he could never of imagined. Next up, was the infamous mohican which despite being quite a strange style prompted kids and adults alike to get to the barbers and ask for a mohican.
Beckham has been the ultimate trend setter of the last 20 years, whatever he was wearing, people would copy him. I remember as a kid playing Sunday league football and fighting with my friends and teammates over who would wear the number 7 shirt! Why? Because that was the number Beckham wore. As his career progressed kids all over the world fought over the number 23 and 32 shirts.
Excuse the pun in the title, but it is true that having strong partnerships with other big brands can be hugely important to your growth. In 1997 Beckham started dating one fifth of the biggest girl group in the world. Victoria Adams or “Posh Spice” as she was known to the world. The couple built a brand within a brand and were dubbed by the media as simply “Posh and Becks”. Everything about their lives together was being watched with a close eye by the public and media. From the names of their four children, to their famously named home in Hertfordshire “Beckingham Palace”. The two of them together seem an unstoppable force and with their children growing up, I think the world has a lot more to come from the Beckham family.
Once you’ve conquered one market, what do you do next? Well obviously you conquer another. Football was Beckham’s most natural talent but let’s not forget everywhere else we have seen the Beckham brand pop up over the years. Beckham has had his own clothing line in some of the biggest retail stores in the world. From H&M to Marks & Spencers and Adidas his status in the fashion world has taken his brand to new heights. He is now as much a fashion icon as he is a football one. He and Posh have become sought after by fashion designers, health and fitness specialists, fashion magazines, perfume and cosmetics manufacturers, hair stylists, exercise promoters, and spa and recreation businesses. Let’s not forget his multimillion pound sponsorships deals with Gillette and Pepsi, as well as having his own aftershave range. You really can’t go far without seeing the Beckham brand.
Ahh the good old scandal. Every big brand has one. Just this week we have seen Google up in court fighting charges of tax avoidance. Beckham himself has not been too far from a scandal over the years, the biggest coming in 2004 when British tabloid News of the World claimed that he had been having an affair with a former personal assistant. Beckham called the accusation “ludicrous”. Due to the enormity of the Beckham brand, people are likely to talk and create stories (true or not true). The test of character is how you react and weather the media storm whist retaining your integrity. Over the years Beckham has faced scrutiny but each time he has bounced back and seems to be stronger for it.
All brands must create and leave a legacy. At 38 it remains to be seen what Beckham’s lasting legacy will be but he is certainly building one. His work with charities and fund raising has been something he has been involved in since his early days. He is a UNICEF Good Will Ambassador with a special focus on UNICEF’s Sport Development program. He is a founding member of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council and helped launch the charity in 2009 with Andy Murray at Wembley Stadium.
Perhaps one of Beckham’s crowning achievements was being part of the team that helped bring the 2012 Olympics to East London where he grew up. The sheer presence of Beckham during the bid is said to have been a key part of London landing the Olympics last summer. Pictures of Beckham cruising down the River Thames holding aloft the Olympic torch with a childish grin on his face said everything you need to know about how proud he is of his country and where he comes from.
It is perhaps unfortunate that when people look back and think about Beckham, the first thing we think of won’t be the trophies, free kicks or the superb footballing career. Instead it will be the Beckham brand people remember. The way he used himself as a marketing tool to become what he is today is quite amazing. His name is instantly recognisable around the world the same as Coca Colas
So as Beckham draws the curtain on his footballing career, his brand enters a new stage. What next? Well the honest answer to that is anything. He could try his hand at the movies, or music which judging by his wife’s voice wouldn’t be too difficult to do. Whenever Apple bring out a product people will buy it, why? Well because its Apple. Beckham is the same, anything he touches turns to gold. So now we wait, eagerly anticipating the next stage of the Beckham brand. One thing’s for sure, we wont have to look far to find it, or him!
If you enjoyed this blog you might like a previous blog of ours – 6 Leadership Skills We Can Learn From Sir Alex Ferguson.
Image Credit1 – The Times
Image Credit2 – The Guardian
Image Credit3- The Sun
Image Credit4 – Coolsmenhair