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Here’s a reminder of something you already know: Life is gonna bring you to different situations, and whether they seem good or bad at the time, all of them will help shape you. Breezes and hurricanes, sunny days and rainstorms – no matter what happens — you’re destined for success.
How can you navigate the seas of success while staying comfortable and dry? Simple, always bring your umbrella.
(Your brand is your umbrella, did you bring it?)
I’m going to help you make sure you did, but first let me explain exactly how your brand is your umbrella.
Most creative people do not use the word brand much. They have no real concept or understanding of what a brand is, or how it can help them.
It’s funny though, every successful creative person has developed a very powerful brand whether they realized it at the time or not, and they did it as on-purpose as they could.
I’m a creative entrepreneur, I’m success-focused, and I’m about to share with you deep wisdom on how branding is vital to your success.
Branding is a huge reason celebrity creators became successful and increased their scale, and you want to increase your scale too – so pay close attention.
"Niggas got no brands
So they can’t take a stand
While I’m flyin’ so high
Feels like I’ll never land / And
you could say I’m
puttin’ my head into the sand
But listen up to what I’m sayin’
And I’ll give you some und-er-stand-
We’ll be coming back to the umbrella metaphor shortly, but first…
Well, first let’s look at what a ‘brand’ is.
A brand is, very simply, an ‘instant, common perception’.
For example, if you think you’re brilliant, but that is not the Common Perception of you, then your brand needs work. If you think your art is moving and valuable, but that is not the Common Perception of it, your art’s brand needs work. Getting it?
You can brand anything, because all branding means is Influencing Common Perceptions. People’s perceptions are influenced by every experience they have. Every word, every image, every creation… all of them influence your brand.
You can brand a person (see: Johnny Depp and Oprah Winfrey). You can brand a company (see: Coca-Cola and Apple). You can brand a product (see: iPod), service (see: Weight-Watchers), or project.
Do you want your creations to stand out? A brand is a powerful tool that sets something above and beyond the crowd. It makes you instantly stand out in the chaos of the world. Best-Buy carries a million brands, but Apple IS a brand. Which one do you feel is clearer on leaving a successful legacy?
"Most people are branded as ‘fluff’ or ‘noise’." Everyone gets ‘branded’ by the customer, by default. Most people are branded as ‘fluff’ or ‘noise’ — but you don’t want to be fluff. So it’s important that you take the reins and stop encouraging people to brand you by default. They’d love for you to clarify and explain your brand in a way they understand, but if you don’t they’ll just label you.
All the world’s great success-stories have a brand, whether they know it or not. Most of them are very aware of it, and deliberately chose their brand, or evolved it.
I want you to have a consciously-chosen brand that suits you, not a default one that doesn’t help you much.
The power of a brand is massive, monumental… even ‘epic’.
And I’m about to put it in your hands in a prettier, more concise way than you’ll find anywhere else.
Remember back at the beginning of this article, I asked if you packed your umbrella for the rainstorms of life? That umbrella is your brand. Most people head out into the world, aiming for success, without one of the most important things that will protect them: a clear brand.
And your brand is even more than an umbrella, it’s also a road-map, flashlight, and armor all rolled into one, and it’ll help you a ton of you take control of it and respect your own brand. Not only that, eventually it gains a life of it’s own, and you don’t even have to carry it around, it carries itself!
You direct it to let things in, or keep them out.
Every tiny little experience people have involving you, automatically influences your brand, whether you like it or not. Understand this.
This is why successful celebrities + CEOs are always focused on their IMAGE. Because they have realized that every little thing they do either aligns with their vision + mission, or deviates from it. The trick of brand-management is creatively ensuring that what you do aligns with your brand. Does it suit Beyonce’s brand to do McDonald’s commercials? Not at first glance, and she’d probably turn it down. But what if, what if the McDonald’s was founding schools for women at each of their locations, and the commercials would tastefully focus on that… would Beyonce consider it now? She would, because it aligns with her girl-power brand.
Of course, McDonald’s would not do such an action, it’s unrealistic. Why? Exactly, because that would not suit the McDonald’s brand!
Would Deepak Chopra engage in a curse-word heavy rap-battle with 50 cent? He might, if it suited his brand.
Every decision, every opportunity, every experience either pokes a hole in the brand-umbrella, or reinforces it.
When someone asks you for a meeting, check if it something that embraces your brand or is reflected by it. Same goes for when you start a new projector have a "GREAT NEW IDEA!" – check if it aligns with your brand.
In fact, you almost don`t want to act until you have a solid, clear brand setup. You may feel like you have to, and that’s fine. The idea is to heavily prioritize the brand.
Setting up a brand takes time, energy, and focused attention. You may not feel you have the resources on hand to dedicate to it, but you can still Do Something. The 3 foundational pillars of a brand are just 3 sentences. If you can nail those three sentences, you have immediately setup a nice umbrella. Now these three sentences took me like an hour, and that felt long for me, and I consider myself a hyper-fast-thinking genius. They may take you an hour each. They may take you a day, or a week. Or if you don`t know your Life Purpose yet, it may take even longer.
Whatever the case, you need to do this. Really.
(okay you don`t need to, but it`s super-helpful.)
So now you have a deeper understanding of the importance and value of a brand, we’ll briefly go through what’s involved in creating your brand.
Note: You can always take positive steps towards creating your brand on your own, it`s cool. But keep in mind there are entire companies devoted to branding, and unless you’re some Leonardo-Da-Vinci type and know it, I highly recommend investing in branding resources and experts to do it right
1. Three Foundations
Start with the three keys: Vision Statement, mission statement, and brand promise.
Your vision statement is a phrase that summarizes your hopes and dreams for your brand/business. It focuses on deep, feeling-based abstract concepts like growth, appreciation, freedom, wealth, faith, etc.
Your mission statement is a phrase, paragraph or list of what you do, who you (mainly) do it for, and what feelings and benefits you create in other people’s lives.
Your brand promise is a clear, concise promise that people believe in, in everything you do. If you have no promise that people believe in, you’re limiting your success in a big way.
2. Brand Attributes
Brand attributes are the strengths that your brand has that shine in your industry or corner of the world. The way they blend together should clearly distinguish you from any competitors. They can be qualities you embody that others do not, flagship products, etc.
3. Brand Character
Brand character is how you’re seen, it’s your brand’s personality. 50 Cent’s personality is a hardcore ghetto-style business-man – is he like this 100% of the time in "Real Life" ? No. Sasha Grey is seen as an over-the-top, deviant sex-fiend. Is that really what she is all-day, every-day? Guaranteed not. Human beings are more complex than their brand, but their success is directly tied to the brand personality they created. Try traits like: funny, playful, professional, serious, wise, trendy.
4. Brand Position
Brand position is one of the most important things to get clear on. This is the alignment of how you see yourself and how your customers see you. Usually there is a gap; they are not identical. The aim is to get these perceptions aligned and matched as much as possible.
Take the things that are strengths in your brand vision, mission, promise & attributes, and make sure these things are clear, super-clear, excessively-clear in your communications with your audience.
5. Name, Logo, Tagline
These things are ‘brand assets’ and are the most ‘real’ most tangible expressions of your brand. Like anything tangible and real, they happen after all the planning and foundational work.
"Yeah, seems like people think my love aint true
Butchu had better believe I want you to come through so,
tell ‘em who you are and where you goin to and
when life gets hard shine like a star
stay focused on yo fuckin’ dream
and go farther than far"
As always, I want your success. So take a breath, invest in creating your brand-umbrella, and take it with you in every interaction in life. And hey we can work on it together, part of developing your brand is knowing your audience, so post your brand ideas in the comments and get some audience-feedback!