Edson Breedy is a new breed of Caribbean athlete. Everything about his sporting journey has defied what is traditionally Caribbean. Not only is he participating in a non-traditional sport but he did something inconceivably Caribbean to pursue his sporting dreams. He took a sabbatical from medical school to train for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Breedy’s penchant for taking risks and breaking the mould speaks to an entrepreneurial mindset; a mindset which manifested itself more openly in the unconventionally, Un-Caribbean way in which he chose to raise funds to support his Olympic journey. He used a strategy often neglected by other unendorsed Caribbean athletes: he shared his story.
Just like any good book, he gave his story a title, he designed a cover for it, provided support – in the form of photographs -for the words which his life had crafted, he edited it, he shared it and then he shared it.
The title of the story? Edson Breedy Taekwondo.
The cover? A mark of identification designed by a friend who saw the value in his story.
The story was compelling enough that, like a good book, people read it and wanted to share it. We wanted to share it and after the interview it became clear to me that if he ever wanted to forget about medicine, he could have a career in branding.
Here are three branding tips that I picked up from my interview with Edson Breedy:
Recognize the Value In Your Story
When asked what advice he would give to another Caribbean athlete who is faced with the prospect of self-funding, Edson was super excited. It appeared that this was the question that he was most excited to answer.
” This is very important. I would say to them that they must first recognize that they are important and valuable and that their story is valuable. Believe that your product is valuable. Once you can recognize that and attribute importance to it you can get other people to buy into that story…”
Craft Your Story
Branding isn’t simply about telling a story. It’s more. It’s about telling a story strategically. It’s about giving the story direction. It’s about crafting the story and not simply letting it go where it wants. Letting your story go where it wants is leaving your brand to chance.
Edson could have simply stated that he was interested in finding his way to the Rio 2016 games and left it at that. He NEVER had to say that he left medical school to pursue this dream. However, this was
“I created a story that media seemed to be interested in. So there was a story there. There was a story behind it that people enjoyed hearing.They were interested in it.”
Edson could have simply stated that he was interested in finding his way to the Rio 2016 games and left it at that. He NEVER had to say that he left medical school to pursue this dream. However, this was a key selling point. He took time to pick out the elements that would allow people to connect with his story and his dream.
Your Brand Is Sometimes What You Do And Always What People Say It Is
A couple of years ago, I consulted on the branding of a boutique firm. Observation told me that company culture was laid-back and creative and as far away as possible from corporate. However, when I asked the company owner about what tone he expected when we were crafting copy he said, “corporate”. Even after I asked a few questions that allowed him to discover the true essence of his brand he still wanted to present a corporate image.
“When people think about the brand Edson Breedy Taekwondo, I want them to be inspired. I try to infuse the tenets of perseverance and strategy into the minds of my audience. I avoid using these words directly but prefer to use story telling to ingrain my message more organically.”
Edson, very early on, understood a philosophy elemental to great branding: Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It is sometimes what you do and always what people say it is.
If for any reason Edson had decided to say that his brand represents strategy and perseverance it could have gone brilliantly. He simply would have to ensure that whatever he did captured this ethos. But it could have also backfired if he could not match what he said with what he did or even if he did the right things and people were unable to experience what he said in interaction with his brand.
Sometimes your brand does not necessarily give the experience that you say it will give but it will give an experience all the same. To prevent dissonance, let your brand be fashioned on what you do and how you do it. This will influence what people say it is.
Edson Breedy used these three guides and a few others and in the end he was rewarded with corporate sponsorship from organizations and companies such as Toyota Trinidad & Tobago, Massy Foundation, Westshore Medical Complex and many more.
Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter to find out about the CE Podcast launch where you can hear our full interview with Edson Breedy. Feel free to visit the Edson Breedy website where you can find out about dates for his FREE sparring clinics, and dates for other important events.