Fame does not mean that you have to change. Tony Hawk never grew out of skateboarding and considers devotion to be a key for success.
Tony Hawk became a professional skater at the age of 14. For 30 years he has been on board, promoting the sport both nationally and globally. Today, Hawk’s billion-dollar console and computer games franchise, videos and movies reach people in every corner of the globe while the poorer areas enjoy skate parks built by the Tony Hawk foundation. Hawk, who many considered a hyperactive kid himself, says he was just energetic and not a talented skateboarder in the beginning. He had to approach the sport differently than the others and create his own way to figure it out. Today, Hawk is still arguably the best-known skateboarder of all time. “I still walk the walk. I skate almost every day. It’s not like I grew out of it ever,” Hawk explains how he has stayed relevant for such a long time.
Having the enthusiasm and determination to always get better was Hawk’s way of life. His parents were not raising a professional athlete, but happy that he had something to put all his energy into. Hawk says moving into the entertainment business was his own idea. He had gone as far as he could with skateboarding and had had enough of competing. It was time to explore new opportunities to present and promote skateboarding.
Contrary to a common belief, Hawk doesn’t consider his personal brand as the biggest asset of his business accomplishments. “I don’t think that was the catalyst for success,“ he says. In fact, the right type of branding required learning from his earlier mistakes such as being too loose with how his name was used; “Suddenly I would see my name on products in stores that I had no knowledge of,” says Hawk and continues that, “I am glad I went through it at a time when there was no YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. It was at a time when those mistakes were not so amplified.” After learning how to control his brand, Hawk became an avid user of social media and started to understand how to navigate the new media and its new ways of communicating.
“Marketing is a way to connect to your audience. It’s a way to promote and to engage fans,” Hawk concludes. Although being authentic is important, marketers need more. Hawk urges marketers to be interesting and offer something desirable.
There’s a fine line between keeping it authentic and marketing aggressively, but for Hawk the fear of becoming a sellout is not something that should hinder the branding efforts. After all, what he has realized is that the only time people call you a sellout is when the stuff finally sells.
This article was first published in the 2016 print issue of Nordic Business Report. Get your digital copy of the magazine from the link below.