The Branding of LeBron ...


Here comes the first grab bag post of 2015.

For those new to the neighborhood, these posts consist of three vignettes on storytelling techniques that caught my attention, but can’t quite stand alone.

LeBron James’ TV Credits Now Include the Rehab Addict

LeBron James Painting- Rehab

It’s hard to believe that LeBron James has been playing basketball professionally for over 10 years. In retrospect, the “I’m taking my skills to South Beach” moment served as a springboard for his maturation process.

Likewise, it’s interesting to observe how the LeBron Inc. brand has evolved. As highlighted last year, Team LeBron takes a global approach to branding with particular attention paid to China.

But when I saw LeBron appear on Rehab Addict (perhaps not the perfect title for a professional athlete) on HGTV, it struck me that Team LeBron is laying the groundwork for a pop culture stature that transcends basketball. You get the feeling LeBron has bigger post-NBA aspirations than hawking underwear.

One final point on Lebron breaking out his hammer on Rehab Addict —

During the initial seconds of the episode when Nicole Curtis welcomed him, I told my wife that LeBron will make a token appearance and then disappear into the woodwork (can’t resist a bad pun).


LeBron was engaged in the building process from start to finish and all the activities in between.

Cal Tech Shows Its Storytelling Side

The marketing of universities tends to fall on the unimaginative side.

While not exactly scientific, it’s still revealing how long it takes to find a university Twitter profile that isn’t dull.

Which is why I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the Cal Tech home page depending on one of my favorite storytelling techniques, contrast.

Cake or Carrots Cal Tech creativity

Nice work with the alliteration as well.

Naturally, I needed to find out if this storytelling mentality extended to the Cal Tech Twitter account.

CalTech Twitter- storytelling

No such luck.

“Storytelling Your Way to a Better Job or a Stronger Startup”

That clunky headline kicks off a story in The New York Times that asks the deep question:

“Why has it [storytelling] become this year’s buzzword?”

Did storytelling really become the buzzword for 2014?

The data suggests no.

Using Factiva, our crack research term scrutinized U.S. media properties for the word “storytelling” appearing in the headline or the lead paragraph. The data generated the following chart.

Rise in Storytelling graph

Media attention on storytelling didn’t even increase 10 percent from 2013 to 2014.

If you wanted to make an argument for storytelling achieving buzzword status, 2011 would be the year when use of the word spiked roughly 40 percent.

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