Legacy Branding: The Posthumous Utilization and Management of Athlete Brands

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 Indiana University–Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA
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The passing of basketball icon Kobe Bryant at the beginning of 2020 was devastating for many different sporting and cultural communities. However, the plethora of opportunities Bryant left his family, and the management of those entities by his estate, thereafter, shed light on a neglected area of branding research. How athletes are able to prepare their estates to continue to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, even after death, is a substantial topic in regard to the legacy that various athletes are able to establish. Through an analysis of various posthumous branding phenomena, as well as a comparison with other posthumous celebrity brands, this commentary discusses the current issues faced by athletes, such as ownership and protection. An understanding of current barriers to greater posthumous earnings will benefit how athletes and researchers alike construct and evaluate brands, respectively. Future research should address how prevalent forward thinking is to athletes’ brand building toward a successful postathletic career, as well as the current status of estate planning and brand communication by athletes and/or their brand managers.

Pedersen (zackpede@indiana.edu) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7903-2707

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