I still remember that time when I was 12 years old and it was 1999 and my brothers and I got an N64 for Christmas. A fun gaming console with loads of video games from the iconic brand Nintendo. It was easily one of the best Christmases I had growing up.

Aside from playing video games, I grew up playing high-level competitive sports my whole life – mostly hockey, but one thing was common no matter what, my buddies and I would play video games on our down time or when the weather wasn’t the nicest outside. Up in Canada, the weather can get pretty intense at times.

We got pretty good at some games and probably spent a little too much time in front of the TV at times but there was one game I remember playing that still stands out today. That game was none other than Tony Hawk: Pro Skater.

The funniest part about this game was that I never skateboarded nor really knew much about the sport at all. It wasn’t until I played the game on my N64 where I started to really get an appetite for skateboarding. It started to grow on me and I was hooked.

At this time skateboarding was still fairly new and not overly popular. Tony Hawk basically created the sport (alongside a handful of other very talented pro skateboarders at the time) through his amazing abilities and just raw talent. Tony is known for pulling off various high-flying jumps and tricks, most notably the 900 live at the X Games.

I recently sat down with Tony at The Gathering in Banff, Canada and got his exclusive insights on not just what made him an icon in a new sport, but what techniques he has for people looking to build a brand today. Most people know Tony as being a skateboarder, or the guy that had a video game named after him but he’s evolved into so much more over time including an entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and philanthropist.

Branding Tips from Tony Hawk

One of the first topics I wanted to chat with Tony about was branding. You might be thinking why? Well, not only did Tony basically create a sport and have a video game named after him that made him achieve rockstar status, his name is known all over the world and he himself is a brand. Probably one of the biggest personal brands out there to be honest.

Tony shared with me some amazing branding tips that anyone can apply right now.

Have a Conversation & Be Interested

We all seem to be looking for the next big hack to get us a million followers or to have our latest content go viral, but Tony shed some light on something so simple and often overlooked.

Have a conversation with your followers or community. Ask them questions and really get to know them. Find out what they like to get from you in your content and what they don’t like to get.

One of the most valuable insights that Tony mentioned when we were chatting was to be interested in your audience and your customers. Don’t be a business or brand that is one-sided and only interested in what you want. Be interested in your audience and what they want, this will draw them into you more and create more loyalty and engagement but also over time help build your following and customer base.

This is what Tony has done for years and continues to do today. It’s important to be simple sometimes and having conversations and being interested in your audience is a golden rule of branding you should start implementing right now.

Identify With Your Audience

Now that you have shown some interest in your followers or community, really work hard to be able to identify with them. Put yourself in their shoes and think how they would be feeling in certain situations or what they would want to see from someone like you.

Tony did this from an early age starting his brand and he hasn’t wavered from it today. Stepping into the shoes of your audience or prospective customers is a powerful branding tactic that can bring out some amazing results. This was also reinforced through several other speakers at The Gathering so implement this in your branding because it’s a must-have.

Social Media Tips from Tony Hawk

Another topic I wanted to touch on when I sat down with Tony was to get his advice and thought process on social media tips and personal branding. I thought someone who has over 14 million followers on social media would know a thing or two about branding during a time of social media and the internet.

What Tony had to say really resonated with me,

“Find your style. Don’t copy others”

It was refreshing to hear someone like himself who has millions of people watching his every move basically online through social media, say to not copy others. Considering I know lots of marketers and business people who do the complete opposite.

To build a brand today I think this insight from Tony is invaluable. Being someone who is authentic and transparent that doesn’t follow the crowd and copy others is advice and wisdom from someone who truly carved his own path in life. Find what works for you and your style and do that instead.

Tony Hawk & Skateboarding

One of the most striking responses I got from Tony when chatting with him about business, life and branding and the thing that stood out the most to me was his true love for skateboarding.

He isn’t an extrovert that wanted the camera on him at all times to become a big star. He was the kid with the skateboard that just loved to skate. As he got better and more people took notice of him, he started to generate buzz, popularity and of course fame.

None of this made him a different person. Apply this same type of mindset to your business or life and make sure that you are being true to who you are and are not faking your image or brand to others to make it look like its something that it isn’t.

Remember, branding is more than just what people see, its also what people say, ask, and feel from interaction with you and your brand.

“Find your style. Don’t copy others.”

– Tony Hawk –

Clinton Senkow

Clinton is the Co-founder/Chief Operating Officer of Influencive and a writer at The Huffington Post and Thrive Global. He’s a two-time G20 YEA Entrepreneur representing Canada and advisor to several businesses and entrepreneurs.