h1 When you brand yourself properly, the competition becomes irrelevant.
- Dan Schawbel, Millenial Branding
We can all learn a lot from people, not just companies, when it comes to building a brand. The personal brands of celebrities can really teach us a lot about what it takes to be successful in the advertising world today - and tomorrow. Here are a few examples of what some really well-crafted personal brands can teach us:
1. Transparency gives your brand more authenticity. Louis C.K., the famous comedian that sells out shows and has attracted a massive following online and off, knows a lot about transparency. He doesn't play by the traditional entertainment rules and recently released an exclusive comedy special on his website for only five dollars. He asked his fans to not steal the video and put it on illegal websites. His willingness to interact with his fans and be upfront about everything made it a huge success. He posted a screen shot of his PayPal account which showed that the special made over a million dollars. The relationship he has with his fans is that as long as his products aren't stolen, he will continue to produce great content. Advertising agencies should be mindful about how much they spin and deceive others through the media. If you're honest and genuine, you become a likeable brand.
2. Be untraditional and break the rules. Tim Ferriss, who has sold millions of copies of his books, had a major publishing deal with Amazon's "New Harvest" imprint. All traditional bookstores banned the book to retaliate against Amazon, who they see as a threat. Knowing this, Tim had to come up with a creative strategy that had never been done before in order to break through the noise and get his book distributed. He partnered with BitTorrent, which pushed his book to reach hundreds of thousands of downloads and then he made a deal to distribute his books through Panera Bread restaurants. He then activated his online fan base and used his media connections in order to get the book out there and it became his third bestseller. If you copy what others have done before, you can't stand out. Advertising agencies should be creative, think different and do something that's unexpected to attract attention.
3. Build a community around an idea. Sheryl Sandberg is not only the COO of Facebook, she is also the author of Lean In, a book that has recently taken the world by storm. Sheryl's book was successful because through all the PR and advertising, she had her own online community of women at leanin.org. When she was on TV, she would always plug the website and as a result it has over a hundred thousand members already. She has used advertising and PR as a way to build her community of fans that would help push her book and message even further. Big advertising brands shouldn't just focus on the advertisement but on what happens before and after that ad is shown. Where are you going to send viewers? How will you convert them? What are your goals? These questions will help you make the most out of an ad in a world where advertising is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.
Dan Schawbel is the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press, September 2013).