Annika Sorenstam is approaching her second career the same way she approached her fi rst. In golf, she reached the top of her sport by learning from the best, surrounding herself with a supportive team, setting ambitious goals, and working as hard as it takes to reach those goals. A central element in her business plan is the role she herself plays as the core of the “Annika” brand. As a young player in her native Sweden, she was so reluctant to step into the limelight that she would falter toward the end of tournaments to avoid winning and facing the media attention that came with it. She clearly fi xed that problem, transforming herself into a quietly con- fi dent but ferocious competitor who often left other players in the dust as she went on to win nearly 90 times worldwide. However, as she was nearing retirement from golf and ramping up her business activities, she realized that the persona she had become known for on the course didn’t lend itself to her ambitions for the Annika brand. Research by branding consultant Duane Knapp showed that people respected Sorenstam’s competitive drive but really had no sense of who she was as a person. Even her own husband says she was viewed by the public as “the stoic Swede who will step on your throat” on the way to victory and not the “humble, pretty, and hilarious” woman he knew off the course. Transforming Annika the feared competitor into Annika the warm and welcoming brand icon was a top priority. Good examples of this effort are her blog www.annikablog.com and her Twitter account http://twitter.com/#!/ANNIKA59, which give visitors the chance to know her as she lives off the course, including her love of gourmet cooking, her passion for skiing, and her role as a mother. Along with crafting an inviting brand image that more accurately reflects her true personality, Sorenstam is busy expanding the Annika product line. She continues to endorse many of the same goods and services she promoted as an active player, including Callaway Golf, Lexus, and Rolex. Other business partnerships include an Annika-branded clothing line with Cutter & Buck, Annika wine, and Annika perfume. A central element in her product portfolio is the Annika Academy, a golf instruction facility in Reunion, Florida, that offers lessons, corporate outings, golf vacations, and the opportunity to train with the same advisors and coaches who work with Sorenstam. For the ultimate golf experience, a few lucky visitors every year can buy the three-day, $12,000 “Soren-Slam” package, which includes nine holes of golf with Sorenstam herself. Following another path blazed by her golf-business mentors, Sorenstam also launched a golf course design business, with courses stretching from Turkey to China to the United States. Having had the opportunity to play some of the fi nest and most historic golf courses in the world, she combines that experience with her insights as a professional to create challenging but playable courses. Her designs also aim to right an aesthetic wrong shared by too many golf courses: The best views of both the playing area and the surrounding landscape are found on the men’s tee boxes. (Golf courses have different sets of tee boxes to refl ect the different hitting lengths of average male and female players.) On her courses, women enjoy the same quality of experience as the men. Sorenstam has had an interest in fi nance since any early age, and that passion is refl ected in yet another part of the product mix, the Annika Financial Group. This small advisory fi rm helps other professional athletes manage their money and achieve fi nancial security in their postathletic lives. With a recrafted brand image and a growing product portfolio, Sorenstam is off to a hot start in her quest to be the fi rst woman to join the exclusive club of former athletes who have truly made it big in business. Michael Jordan is “Air Jordan,” Arnold Palmer is the “The King,” Jack Nicklaus is “The Golden Bear,” and Greg Norman, another golf empire builder, is “The Shark.” Who knows—perhaps Annika is “The Avenger”?35
1. Golfers who take lessons and purchase other services from the Annika Academy presumably share at least some of Sorenstam’s passion for winning. Would toning down the competitive aspect of Sorenstam’s public persona negatively affect the Annika brand in the eyes of Academy customers? Explain your answer.
2. Sorenstam’s charitable efforts include the Annika Foundation, which you can read about on her website. How does her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other activities contribute to her brand equity?
3. Explain how the brand extension efforts in wine, perfume, and fi nancial advice can reasonably fi t under the umbrella of the Annika brand.