When Greg Norman started Great White Shark Enterprises three decades ago, it was a business that followed an identifiable professional athlete template: a great player, a big name, and an opportunity to leverage that name with consumers.
But now Norman is 61. Save for an improbable run at the 2008 British Open, where he finished third, he hasn't been a competitive player in more than a decade. If Great White Shark Enterprises, with divisions for clothing, wine, and golf course design, depended on Norman's name recognition as a golfer, he knew it would have only a limited shelf life.
"If I didn't redirect, it was going to die on the vine," Norman said by phone on Tuesday.
Hence the announcement earlier this month that Norman would be re-branding and transforming his business in 2017. Say goodbye to Great White Shark Enterprises, say hello to the Greg Norman Company.
Norman's repositioning of his company from a mostly consumer-facing brand to one that will expand to business-to-business services was an idea that began some 18 months ago, and has involved everything from the influx of new personnel, to a new partnership with Verizon that will revolve around educational technology. But at its core is Norman's desire to transcend the limited world of sports, and an acknowledgment that he, too, won't be around forever.
"When I started the company my recognition factor was there and I had this ability to keep the brand in front because I was the player," Norman said. "We have a very strong platform, and that allowed me to broaden my base."
For a grandfather, Norman remains in remarkable shape, but even he recognizes he's working with a finite amount of time. The rebranding, including the unveiling of a new logo, is an important first step, but there will be additional announcements made in the coming weeks that will crystallize some of his future plans. Although many of his core companies like his clothing line and design business will remain intact, it will be some of the new ventures like the partnership with Verizon that will be unique enterprises not ordinarily associated with a former professional athlete.
"Like me when I started to wean myself off the game, I needed to think about what's next," Norman said. "I said I wanted to think about not just this year or next year, but let's think about the next 200 years of this company."