Let's talk about Alabama softball player Ashley Prange's first merchandise drop yesterday.
You saw the finished product on our socials channels. What you didn't see was the Ashley's ownership of the drop from start to finish!
Brainstorming the Original Concept
During our ideation process, we discuss personal and authentic identifiers with our athletes. Those identifiers are the key building blocks for their brand. They can be anything from nicknames, to catchphrases, to iconic photos or plays.
This process was no different with Ashley.
Pretty early, Ashley sent over a photo of herself celebrating a big play by doing the "Crimson Crane" and we had our concept.
There's a few special things about the photo:
- The photo showed Ashley's personality. The more personality an athlete displays, the greater connection they have with their audience.
- The photo was sent directly from Ashley, meaning we knew she liked it. (Tip for athletes: always send photos of yourself that you like to give the artist inspiration!
- The "Crimson Crane" is unique to the Alabama community. The celebration caught fire during Alabama's football season and spread to other sports on campus. The Crimson Crane has an inherent connection to its community.
Bringing the Art to Life
The best part about the creative process was what happened next.
As we started to consider how to concept the art, we received an amazing text from Ashley.
Apparently she has creative talents of her own and literally illustrated the artwork herself (see original art to the left)!
We sent the art to one of our in-house designers who made a few slight edits, but the art you see on Ashley's merch is identical to her original concept.
We then took it a step further by incorporating Ashley's logo, which she had previously posted on her Instagram prior to joining Campus Ink. Ashley wanted to incorporate her favorite bible verse, James 1:2, so we added it inside of her logo.
The Mockup Process
Our team mocked up a wide array of layouts and concepts for Ashley to figure out the ultimate merch drop.
These concepts included experimenting with various sizes of art and on different areas of the merch. Areas included front and center, on the back and every spot imaginable.
We also played around with different types of clothing, whether it be a standard t-shirt and hoodie, or a crew neck sweatshirt, or even a crop top!
Understanding how special this drop was to Ashley considering she designed the art, we even sent her a few samples to check out herself.
Soon, we found a great mix of concepts we thought would best resonate with Ashley's audience.
Ready for Launch!
The NIL Store places a ton of value in understanding its athletes strengths and leveraging them for maximum return.
Ashley is fantastic on social media and had a great sense for how to market her merch to potential buyers.
Three days before the official drop date, she teased her merch on her Instagram story and offered exclusive merchandise access to the first 10 fans who direct messaged her.
When it came to Ashley's official launch, we agreed to capitalize on her greatest strength: TikTok! She has more than 44,000 followers on the platform and has generated more than 1 million likes on her content.
Knowing this, we worked with Ashley to have her personally announce her new merch drop on TikTok live!
She knocked it out of the park, modeling the merch herself and also using the background as a green screen to show the different products that were available online.
Ashley even stayed on afterwards for an impromptu Q&A session with her followers, further building the all-important emotional bond!
Following Ashley's announcement we supported her through our social channels with the official merch drop.
We want to support our athletes in any way possible, but everyone is uniquely different.
Some athletes like Ashley want to be directly involved from start to finish.
Others are entirely hands-off and trust our creative team to take the lead.
There is no wrong way to do things. Both can have success!
The barometer for success in both scenarios ultimately comes down to the athlete's brand strength and authenticity.
We'll talk more about authentic brands in future blogs!