The Worst Branding Idea I Ever Had

In Work On Your Game [The Book]
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As I moved into the business world, an important point for me was that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a “basketball guy.”

And it seemed like everyone I talked to about translating my background into something of value, wanted to keep me in the “sports” box.

I didn’t want to do camps and clinics, though I’d been asked about these many times over the years.

I didn’t want to be a trainer or coach.

I had no interest in giving motivational speeches to sports teams.

I didn’t want to be in the sports box.

I decided initially that my expertise would be in marketing and personal branding. I had some knowledge in that space, and I had the brand presence to serve as credibility. I was also posting YouTube videos every day still at that time.

In addition to joining Toastmasters (where I would serve as club President for a year and a half) and meeting a knowledgeable mentor who would teach me a lot about the speaking business, I felt I needed a branding change when it came to the way I presented myself to the world at large.

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My website had been my home base since 2007, when I first registered the domain name. had started as — and had always been — exactly what I’d envisioned it to be: a website by and about Dre Baldwin. My thoughts, my ideas, my whatever else I wanted to publish.

And what Dre Baldwin had been about up to that point, was basketball.

My website very clearly reflected the basketball-and-Internet-stuff life that I’d been living.

Blogging about my playing experiences. Sharing tips and help for players who were facing the same challenges that I’d faced as a developing player. The YouTube videos that had initially made me known.

The problem was, my website was too much basketball and YouTube. Not enough display of my professional expertise. I feared that the business world wouldn’t take me seriously.

Yet, I still had this audience of athletes and others who’d met me through my videos and who’d benefitted from this stuff.

What could I do?

Easy solution: make another website.

I registered a new domain and set up a second website that was solely “business” focused.

No mentions of YouTube vids.

Every photo featured me in a suit or button-up shirt; no tank tops, hats, or athletic gear.

All my writing would be about the business applications of the stuff that I knew about marketing and brand-building, keeping the personal stories (and personality) to a minimum.

This website was a complete and total failure.

I didn’t like looking at the site.

The suit-and-tie photos bored me.

There was nothing exciting in writing for that site — which means it was even less exciting for anyone perusing the site hoping to learn about me.

This was apparent, and not just in that there was little traffic to this site, which led to little of everything — inquiries, bookings, sales, contracts — else. Looking objectively, this new website wasn’t noteworthy. There was nothing on it that was worth talking about or looking at, even for me.

Trying to make the website work cost me six months. It was the worst investment I’ve made since graduating college.

It can be difficult to make a change to something that’s working great, or even working a little bit. Changing something that’s not working at all? That’s easy.

This site wasn’t working, which was obvious. The challenge was what I would change it to.

What did I have to offer the business world that would force them to take me serious?

Well, nothing.

And, everything.

I realized that all I had to offer was me — and what had made me, me: my basketball experience, the fact that I’d made myself know by publishing lightly-edited home videos, my point of view on the subjects that I cared about, and my overall personality, as it is and was.

Anyone who wasn’t interested in that would not be convinced otherwise. They would just have to remain not-interested.

At the same time, I wasn’t as interested in marketing or personal branding as I was in some other things. I needed a change in subject matter.

A change to something that I came alive to talk about.

The answer to this quagmire would come to me soon.

What I came upon next — and how I found that area of expertise — is shared in my new book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life, coming February 22. Preorder Work On Your Game now and get all these amazing preorder bonuses.

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