Designing the First Platform for College Athletes to Monetize their Brands and Secure Partnerships

Service

Interactive Web App Design & Development, Marketing Website Design

The Challenge

Sports is a universal culture that brings people together.

The Olympics. The Superbowl. The World Cup. The World Series. The NBA Finals. March Madness. Wimbledon. The U.S Open.

There’s something special about the thrill of competition, nationalism, and seeing the peak of applied human performance. Sports provide entertainment, purpose, joy, and more.

Athletes work incredibly hard to compete and serve the fans, and those that make it professionally are rightfully compensated.

But up until recently, not all professionals were getting the compensation they were due.

And no, I’m not talking about the grumpy person on the bench during crunch time. I’m talking about NCAA College athletes.

College Sports are a huge part of American culture. March Madness and the College Football Playoffs alone rival some of the largest sporting events in the country. In fact, many sports fans prefer college sports for one reason or another.

These athletes bring in billions of revenue for their universities and they are often local celebrities with influence and impact. Some of these college athletes are far more popular than their professional counterparts. But they were not legally allowed to monetize their brands or likeness due to NCAA restrictions.

Due to how few make it to the pros, this deprived countless athletes of opportunities that could have dramatically impacted their career.

Thankfully as of July 2021, that rule has been rescinded and for the first time in history, college athletes will be allowed to monetize their name, image, and likeness.

The MOGL team saw this and built the platform they always wish existed. The company was founded by two passionate sports lovers — Ayden and Brandon. Ayden had a background in Investment Banking and Private Equity. Brandon was the former starting QB for Notre Dame and also has a background in Accounting. The two met at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

They learned of the impending NCAA law change in advance and founded MOGL to create the first platform to allow college athletes to monetize their name image an likeness.

They reached out to us to create product that would make that possible. We designed their web product and their marketing website.

The Solution

Our objective was to build a product that would allow them to attract and retain a seed audience of users and secure growth capital. We focused initially on the core product experience and once completed we shifted our efforts to creating the marketing and sales pages needed for the website.

The goal of the MOGL product was to connect businesses to college athletes for brand partnership opportunities. So we built a 2-sided marketplace that allows businesses to discover and hire athletes, allows athletes to create profiles and market their services, and facilitates connections between both parties.

Businesses want to collaborate with athletes to grow their reach, driving revenue via partnerships, improve credibility, and create cultural relevance. Athletes want an opportunity to build a brand, generate income, and capitalize on their likeness. MOGL is the platform that makes it all possible.

Results

Our product design and development efforts contributed to the successful launch of the MOGL platform in July 2021. Since their initial launch, the company has seen continued growth and success. They’ve secured VC Funding and they’ve been featured in Forbes, USA Today, and CNBC. They’ve also been able to make inroads with brands like Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, and Newbalance.

Visual Design

MOGL is a platform that is for athletes, by athletes. The platform exists to give athletes the opportunities to build a brand and a business like never before. We wanted the design to tell that story by making visitors feel like they’re stepping into the sports arena.

We wanted users to feel the excitement, passion, and energy of the moment. We communicated through the use of imagery on marketing pages and brand styling.

We knew athletes loved Nike, Adidas, and Video games. They build their lives around sports and sports brands like Nike and Adidas have developed a trademark creative style over the years.

It’s hyper realistic, dynamic, vivid, and sleek.

So we made sure the brand felt high class, elite, and exclusive. We used a dark themed design, made the design action oriented, leaned into movement, made sure to represent the most popular sports.

User Experience Design

We started the process by outlining some of the core challenges of both athletes and businesses. Then used those to outline the platform’s jobs to be done.

For Athletes

The athlete experience was built around 2 core pillars: creating their profiles and promoting their services. The profiles allowed them to have an identity on the platform and a central place of reference. The promotion allows them to advertise themselves and the value they can provide, effectively taking advantage of everything MOGL and the new law has created.

Profiles

For the profile experience we focused on creating a place for athletes to:

  • Share their highlights, skills, and content
  • Build a brand for themselves
  • Book engagements with their teams and teammates

We wanted the profiles to feel like a mix of Linkedin, Instagram, and HUDL. Linkedin because of the professional connotation and concept of capturing work history. HUDL because it is the leading platform for athletes to share their highlight reels and content. Instagram because it’s the place where athletes build their brands and connect with their audience.

Success meant capturing the professional essence of Linkedin, the portfolio and sports connotation of HUDl, and the social and brand nature of instagram.

So we broke the profile into several sections. We have a callout module with core contact and profile information. Then we introduced separate tabs for content, listed services, bio and demographic info, as well as specific skills.

This way athletes can share who they are, what they can do, what they’re good at, and show real world examples through content.

Athletes can set their prices for different services and provide a way for potential partners to contact them or inquire for more information through built in chat and payments.

For Partners

Partners are the other half of the coin who create opportunities for the ecosystem. They needed an easy way to share those opportunities, find the right athletes, and book engagements.

The goal was to make these pages simple. We didn’t want the app to feel visually overwhelming. College athletes are busy and don’t want to be burdened with trying to figure things out. And business owners just want to find the right person to help them and move on.

So we want to use very lightweight visual design systems that promote scannability and feel simple.

Creating Opportunities

We created a simple flow that allows businesses to post jobs. They can:

  • Add overview information on the project
  • Ask screening questions
  • Specify what kind of skills and expertise they’re looking for
  • Filter their job by sport, league, or location
  • Indicate their project budget and timeline

This level of detail is helpful for business owners looking to narrow down the scope of their project. To make sure it wasn’t overwhelming we broke the listing flow up into several chunks, so the user was never presented with too many things at once. We also introduced iconography to familiarize users with different sections of the app and make it easier to skim.

Athlete Discovery

For folks who want to browse talent or are looking for inspiration, they can check out all of the athletes on the MOGL platform. We introduced several filters to give businesses the ultimate control when exploring. They can filter by sport, league, location, social media reach, number of projects, etc.

And the profile cards we designed make it easy to scan through several athletes at once and identify the high level details before navigating to their profiles.

Athletes can use their profile cards as an elevator pitch for themselves. They can set their profile picture, header image, bio blurb, and key skills.

Bookings

When it’s time to seal the deal, we created a built-in job management tool and we built around the entire job flow. Before they sign the contract, businesses can see all the athletes who have expressed interest in their job. They can message them directly to clarify and provide context. They can make the hiring decision directly from the job page and the queue of interested athletes. From there they can set up escrow payment via Paypal and can coordinate via messages and share files via the job page. Once the job is complete, both parties can review each other and provide details on their experience. This adds trust and credibility to the platform and incentivizes people to do their best.

Website Design

Once we completed the product, we built the marketing hub for the brand. The team was growing quickly. They hired over a dozen interns, were doing tons of events and media appearances, and investing into social media.

With all these growth efforts, they needed a central location for people to:

  • Learn more about the brand
  • Sign up for and access the product

The primary goals of the site were to:

  • Drive awareness
  • Educate users
  • Build trust and credibility

So we built out several pages to help them achieve their goals, this included:

  • A landing page to introduce the product, the use cases, and benefits
  • Dedicated pages for athletes and businesses to learn about how MOGL can work for them
  • An about page to introduce the founding team and their mission
  • A press features page to capture all of the earned media the brand has created
  • A blog page for editorial content
  • A page on why everyone should choose MOGL
  • And FAQ and contact information to provide for any questions
  • Disclosure pages to ensure compliance and provide additional education

We leveraged the same design principles used for the app as the foundation for the site. But we made the site more dynamic and bold. We also leaned heavily into imagery. Thanks to MOGL’s partnerships with all levels of professional athletes, we were able to source images of major names in the NCAA and pro leagues. This was a simple but important lever because it allowed prospective athletes to see themselves in the shoes of their peers, and see MOGL as the bridge to get them there.

We doubled down on this by sourcing dozens of testimonials from prominent athletes and prominent business leaders in the sports and media industries. This helped add to MOGL’s credibility and positioning.

For each of the targeted use case pages we took a templated approach to structuring the content. Although athletes and partners had different experiences on the app, the marketing pages needed to communicate the same core info:

  • What the product is
  • What the benefits were
  • Why they should use MOGL
  • How to take advantage of the product
  • Currently supported use cases
  • Testimonials
  • Answers to relevant questions

For the rest of the website, we focused on making it very modular so that you could easily plug in sections where needed.

Parting Thoughts

This project was powerful. It was great to get a chance to design and build the product. It felt special to be a part of such a massive movement. The College Sports industry is literally transforming right before our eyes. Personally, I remember wanting to be an athlete at one point in time. And now even though my sport is design, i can connect with incredible brand power of some of these players. The fact that they were stopped from taking advantage of their natural gifts is awful. I can’t wait to see the stories of success and triumph that MOGL will create just by giving people equal opportunity.

And we’re honored we got to be a part of paving the way for the next generation.

If you’d like to learn more about MOGL or discuss potential projects, feel free to shoot me a ping.

Till next time — own your power, give back, and leave no stone unturned.

Black Lotus Out.

www.BlackLotus.co

Marketer | Designer | Founder. Sharing my favorite projects and insights