Corporate Eye

Branding Lessons from David Beckham

I’ve talked about how businesses can learn from celebrity branding before on Corporate Eye, and today, I’m going to discuss lessons to learn from the David Beckham brand. 

The online buzz this week centered around David Beckham and his apparent fading brand image.  The David Beckham brand reigned supreme while Beckham dominated in Europe.  Despite his strength on the U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) playing field, his brand has dimmed a bit since his Los Angeles Galaxy jersey became a regular sight in U.S. stadiums.

The online buzz is suggesting the David Beckham brand has lost some of its star power because Beckham moved from being a big fish in a little pond to become a medium-sized fish in a big pond in the U.S.  I’m not convinced that’s the problem.  Truth be told, I’m not sure if the David Beckham brand has a problem at all, but since that’s the buzz, I’m going to address it from a marketing perspective.

It’s possible that the David Beckham brand oversaturated the market.  While in Europe, David Beckham seemed elusive and slightly untouchable.  It was the brand everyone wants but just can’t afford or get.  His marriage to another celebrity, Victoria Beckham, led his brand to become more visible on the market.  When the couple moved their family to the U.S. the David Beckham brand began to appear everywhere.  From celebrity endorsements and appearances to celebrity gossip columns and more, the once intangible brand now became not just commonplace but overbearing.

A challenge every brand faces is walking the thin line between building your brand and oversaturating the market with it.  While consumers certainly haven’t turned their backs on the David Beckham brand, it has lost some of its allure.  The same could be said of other celebrity athlete brands such as Lance Armstrong who as a Tour de France champion didn’t dominate the media, but as Sheryl Crow’s boyfriend and buddy to celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, his brand became far easier to access and thus, less mysterious and interesting.

Of course, the media could be blamed for disinterest in celebrity brands, but marketers can still learn an important lesson from them.  Be cognizant of the negative ramifications that oversaturating the market with your brand can have, and while publicity is good, too much PR or the wrong kind of PR can damage your brand.  Grow your brand strategically, but don’t risk your overall brand image through the wrong kind of growth.  Remember, not all growth is good growth.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.