We have recently been involved with promotions for artists, Bernard Springsteel and legendary designer S. Neil Fujita, (You can see our photos at: flickr.com/webpro if you're interested), and this is a question that comes up.
Do You Need A Brand? Or A Personal Brand?
Posted by Create Space
On the surface, a brand and a personal brand seem so similar that it's not necessary to have two separate categories. In reality, they couldn't be more different. A brand is an image designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. It's an exercise in cautious messaging. In most cases, companies spend a lot of time and money developing a brand. Committees form. Focus groups meet. Stress levels elevate until the perfect brand identity emerges.
Personal brands would fail miserably if developed under the same process. Personal brands are multifaceted snapshots of an individual. In short, it is your personality on display in a public forum. It is not contrived. It happens organically. An abundance of caution is the wrong way to go here. Personal brands thrive under the risk of being completely transparent. In the ultimate of counter intuitive thinking, personal brands are most effective when they appeal to a narrow, passionate audience. Even passionate detractors of a personal brand are as likely to spread the personal brand's message as the followers.
There are exceptions, but rarely is it possible to have both a brand and a personal brand. They are just too diametrically opposed to work together in a successful manner. With a product on the market (whether it is a film, book, or music), the question presented is which brand type is appropriate for you. The answer in most cases is a personal brand. As an artist, you are looking for passionate followers. While they may love your art, they won't be part of your word-of-mouth campaign until they connect with your personal brand - you.
Creating a personal brand is both easy and scary. It's easy because you are just being you. In essence, you are an open book. However, not everyone is going to like what they see, and that is the scary part. It's not fun being disliked, but it's what happens when you build a passionate following. It always comes with passionate dissent. That's when you know your message is getting out.
I would be remiss if I didn't offer a word of caution. Things said on the Internet tend to live forever on the Internet, and seep into "real" life. Don't compromise your future or your safety. Be passionate but don't be impetuous when building your personal brand.
So, go ahead, be yourself, and build your personal brand. The passion and sales will follow.