Could Kobe Bryant’s Company Become The Next Sports and Entertainment Brand Empire?
The late NBA legend’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, is making moves as president of Kobe, Inc.
A trademark for the brand name “KB24” has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which means that business dealings of the late and legendary Kobe Bryant will live on.
Could you imagine a brand bigger than Air Jordan? Or its parent company, Nike? That may be pushing it, but there has not been a bigger name in basketball (apologies, LeBron) than Kobe Bryant in the past 25 years.
And now, according to a report by TMZ.com, comes the branding and reemergence of “KB24” as part of an elaborate business strategy by Kobe, Inc., where Vanessa Bryant serves as the company’s president.
Where will Kobe’s legacy empire land in the current business climate? Well, to be precise, his companies have remained relatively quiet since his death in January of 2020. They’ve applied for multiple trademarks, but there haven’t been any earth-shattering announcements (other than the decision to not renew a partnership with Nike) regarding the intended direction.
But does this recent trademark application, filed on October 8, indicate this vehicle with massive potential is ready to put the transmission in overdrive?
It is the next logical move for a business empire that Bryant was building full-speed ahead before his tragic and untimely passing. And what makes it extra special is that Bryant was paving a path quite distinct and different from the ones usually carved by former athletes after their playing careers are finished.
Back in the day, retired athletes went into coaching and or broadcasting. Now athletes make more money than they ever did as athletes to become executives with diversified portfolios and business interests.
That was where Bryant was already headed.
“Without a doubt, this generation of athletes is thinking more under those terms — they are businesspeople already,” Eric Johnson, a former ESPN executive who spent 18 years at the WWL and now consults with sports and entertainment companies, told the Los Angeles Times. “The majority of them are much more aspiring to be in the business world, and he is an inspirational figure.”
The “Goods and Services” portion of the trademark submitted by Kobe, Inc. outlines digital collectible items, sports cards, websites, training camps, broadcasting platforms, podcasts, TV shows, movies, documentaries, music, food/drink containers, merchandise and more.
Another unique piece of this puzzle is that in early September, a digital development company out of Los Angeles announced that it would be releasing an NFT collection (that’s non-fungible token) inspired by and in the likeness of Kobe Bryant.
What really caught the attention of the NFT community and sports fans worldwide was that the group announced that 100 percent of the proceeds from the project would be donated directly to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, created in memory of Kobe and Gianna ”Gigi” Bryant with the goal of serving underprivileged children through sports and life, would see a donation of more than $3 million from the initial NFT sale alone. Additionally, all creator proceeds from secondary marketplace sales would also be donated to the Foundation, in perpetuity, and lifetime estimates range from the tens to hundreds of millions.
Vanessa has already cut ties with Nike, which Bryant was aligned with throughout his professional playing career. She’s a savvy and strong-willed woman who has always been ahead of the game. She’s applied for more than a dozen trademarks since her husband’s passing, and we can only surmise that she’s about to go all in behind the Kobe brand: the collectibles, the clothing, the logos, the slogans, the Foundation…with everything embracing the “Mamba Mentality.”
The likely goal here is to create a legacy Kobe Bryant brand, much like Air Jordan, but without Nike behind it. And if I had to guess, the Bryant family wants KB24 to be more than just a revenue funnel. They see this as an opportunity to kickstart a movement that alters the way companies and non-profits in the sports industry engage, promote and develop their brands for their fans, clients, communities and partners.
And if a brand forged from the Kobe name can’t change the world for the better, can anything?
Only time will tell, but one thing we always used to say in the sports gambling world: “Do not bet against Kobe Bryant.”
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