How to build your personal brand!

by Jilla Webb

April 28, 2019

What is your personal brand? And how do you advertise it without coming across like a narcissist? The timing of product placement and market management can be tricky to get right. You must put your product in front of the public enough, so you are on their minds, but not so much that they don’t have time to think about it and incorporate it into their lives.  If done right, product placement becomes part of the landscape and is undetectable as a pitch.

The first problem is you have to know what your brand personality is and what companies share in your personality type. The second big problem is that you, the artist, are the brand.  Your marketing must be two-fold.  You must place the products from other companies in your world, and you must integrate yourself into the worlds of other companies.

Partnering with other companies is one way to gain visibility. More and more celebrities are going beyond basic endorsement deals, where the celebrity is seen using the product. An example of an endorsement deal would be the new commercials with Matthew McConaughey and the 2019 Lincoln Nautilus.  They are using his name, image and likeness to gain visibility for their product, and he increases his visibility by being seen by the fans of this automobile. Here’s where knowing your brand personality becomes essential.  McConaughey is shown in these commercials as dedicated, contemplative, mindful, and maybe a little daring.  These are some of the personal brand characteristics this company wants to promote. They believe it is this kind of person that will be attracted to this automobile, and they try to get to those customers by linking this non-verbal communication by McConaughey and the Lincoln Navigator. Think about how different this commercial would have been shot if someone like Kanye or a soccer mom were the spokesperson instead of McConaughey. Knowing your personal brand personality will help you align yourself with products that portray the same values and lifestyle as you.

In an article for Variety, Andrew Barker states “Over the past three years, corporations have been handing out creative director titles to pop  stars like so many studio VP monikers: Lady Gaga’s creative director gig for Polaroid is now in its third year, and Pharrell Williams has been in that position at Karmaloop TV since 2011. Earlier this year, Alicia Keys assumed the mantel at Blackberry,  as did Will.i.am  for Intel and Justin Timberlake for Bud Light.” (para 3).  Instead of pushing advertising at consumers, these days companies are trying to use the experience and visibility of celebrities to pull the customer to their products. In an article for Forbes, Steve Olenski writes “ Today’s celebrities realize it’s not about them. It’s what they stand for and bring to the brand. They must reflect what the target audience really wants. With Raycon, Ray J realized his celebrity status could help grease some of the wheels and influence media coverage, but it was ultimately up to him to do the work like any entrepreneur would do. For Brisk and Michael B. Jordan, it was about values, legacy, and social causes (para 15).  It is crucial that you as the artist know and understand your personal brand and your brand personality so you can align yourself with companies that share your vision and values. You can’t fake this.  People will know.  That’s why it’s essential to start thinking now about what things you care about, what you value and who you want to be in business with as you grow your brand and career.

Marketing is pushing products and ideas at consumers, but branding is pulling consumers to your product. What do you and your brand bring to the table? What do you have to offer a company?  What is your brand equity? Those intangible properties that make you uniquely you are what make up your brand equity.  Are you playful or responsible?  Are you reliable or adventurous? Are you creative or dedicated? What are your image and reputation? And does it matter what you think they are?  It’s been said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  I want to suggest that what you need to know about your image and reputation is how you are viewed by others.  That’s where your power lies as an influencer and a brand.  First, it’s crucial to really know and understand how others perceive you.  Is it in line with what you are trying to project to the world?  Do people view you the way you intend to be seen? If not, what do you need to do to change your public perception, or should you change it? The problem is that most of us don’t know how people view us, so we may be spending a lot of time and effort into marketing that doesn’t work. Second, I think you build your brand over time by living your life with the consistency of purpose and direction.  Every single day, everything you do from what you wear, say, eat, and involve yourself in is communicating to the world who you are. Building a personal brand takes time and should not be disingenuous because you will have to keep up the façade for a long time.  Building real relationships with your fans and the companies you work for will be a lasting reminder to the world of your personal brand.

The internet is beginning to settle into its place in our world, and we are beginning to see that the online and offline worlds are merging.  There is no way to market yourself as something online if that’s not how you are in your offline world.  You as the artist, or the product, must integrate both worlds and your communication about your brand must be consistent and strategically communicated to the world.  If you choose to incorporate products in videos, blogs, or interviews you need to make sure they are products you really endorse, use and integrate into your life. Barker reminds of how endorsements can reflect poorly on both company and artist when he wrote “Keys, for example, raised some eyebrows when her creative directorship at Blackberry was announced, and caused a minor furor weeks later when a post on her personal Twitter account was marked “sent from my iPhone.” (She claims she was hacked.) (para 15).

Spend some time understanding what your personal brand and brand personality are.  Remember that a brand personality describes the character of the product and reflects how you want to make your fans feel about you. Are you sincere, spirited, reliable, sophisticated or outdoorsy?  Telling your authentic story is sustainable and will ultimately attract compatible companies and products into your world.  However, first, you must know and understand your brand.  Only then will you effectively integrate your product, you, into the correct companies and be sure that you are promoting products that align with your values and brand.

References:

Barker, Andrew. (April 16, 2013).  Branding Deals With Pop Stars Go Behone the Casual Endorsement. Retrieved from: https://variety.com/2013/music/features/endorsement-deals-1200334594/

Olenski, Steve. (April 2, 2018).  Brand, Branding and Celebrities. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2018/04/02/brands-branding-and-celebrities/#c323124db937