Jeremy Lin and the Power of the Personal Brand

If you’re a sports fan, you probably remember the tremendous impact former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin made on his team last season, before suffering a season ending injury. His exciting, fast-paced, and unselfish style of play made him an instant favorite among Knicks fans and basketball fans in general.

But Lin is more than just a talented athlete—he’s got business savvy as well, particularly as it relates to personal branding. Below is an excerpt from a recent article published on, which illustrates the potential and the value of a powerful personal brand:

Jeremy Lin has just made the news again, as he leaves New York for Houston. Personally, as a New Yorker, I am terribly saddened, because he is not only a compelling player, who set a great tone for the Knicks…but he is also a savvy professional, who has pulled some interesting moves off the court, as well as on it.

It’s Linsane, certainly. But brilliant. And he has some branding lessons to share with us all.

In fact, Jeremy Lin has taken personal branding to the next level – by trade marking his personal brand of mass hysteria – “Linsanity.”
And, interestingly, almost everyone — whether they follow basketball or not — knows what Linsanity means: teamwork, excellence, performance, intelligence, hope, inspiration.

Few mortals, of course, could think about trademarking their names (“John Smithism” just wouldn’t work, nor would “Mary Jonesian”…) But sports figures have been protecting their worth through trademarks for a long time. In the case of Linsanity, we see a millennial making the best of all worlds in his own branding efforts (with the help of countless sports writers, fans, agents, and lawyers, I am sure).

And it’s a good thing he did, because as he moves from New York to Houston, Linsanity moves with him.

So what does this mean to you? Very few of us have the national visibility of a star basketball player. But the lesson remains, the same, albeit on a smaller scale: a personal brand that sets you apart from your competitors is worth a tremendous amount of money. In the cases of athletes like LeBron James, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and now, he hopes, Jeremy Lin, a personal brand can translate into millions of dollars in endorsement deals. Meanwhile, internationally recognized brands like Apple, Nike, and Coca Cola spend huge sums of money creating and reinforcing their brand in order to maintain their strong positioning in the marketplace.

You can do exactly the same thing in your market. But often we hold back because we don’t think our name, or what we do is valuable enough to give it importance. Naturally, the real truth is that it is what you make it. By creating a personal brand that differentiates you and your business from your competition, you effectively create your own category in your field. There may be others in your field or work just as there are other basketball players but non as well know or liked in New York as Jeremy Lin was while he was there. When you are THE recognized expert in your line of work, you have the ability to command premium rates and get the attention you deserve but it is up to you to capitalize on it just as Lin did.

Jeremy Lin and a plethora of other star athletes have clearly recognized the value of a powerful personal brand. Have you?