Monday, July 18, 2011

The Power of Your Personal Brand: A Case Study Approach

People change, so how do celebrities keep up with their current fans and attract new ones over time? This question is in every celebrity or politician’s mind. This movement toward personal branding has been seen in every brand through the ages, where marketing specialists cook up new “hip” ideas to appeal to new generations, as Coca-Cola has been doing throughout our lives.

Brands are powerful, and several celebrities have been working in interesting ways to develop their personal brand and further their career. Let’s analyze a few actors and see what has happened throughout their lives.

Russell Brand – a British comedian, at first, known for his Rockstar-ish ridiculous style. He has exchanged his metal chain, his leather pants and pointy shoes for stylish business type attire that is more presentable to the public, attire that is appealing and professional. Since the change, his career has taken off, and he is well on his way toward becoming a respectable actor. Russell Brand’s personal brand, now changed, has directly impacted his career for the better. Now we must ask ourselves, with this change, what affect will this play on Russell Brand’s existing fans?

Brad Pitt – perhaps the best example and most interesting case in personal branding. Brad Pitt’s career has evolved, and through the years, his personal brand has changed. At first, he was viewed as a hunk with a pretty face. To build his brand beyond his “pretty face,” Brad Pitt started taking roles that were not based on looks (Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys), and with the marriage to Jennifer Aniston, his image has shifted from “pretty boy” to a “romantic”. These movie roles were not taken by Brad Pitt because of lack of options, but rather as a necessary shift of his personal brand. In recent years, after his partnership with Angelina Jolie and several adopted children, Brad’s personal brand has changed again. What is Brad’s personal brand now and has it made him more successful? And what will his brand look like in the future?

Charlie Sheen – the only person whose name is associated with “tiger blood,” is perhaps the most fascinating example of personal branding.  Charlie Sheen’s personal brand matches the characters he plays on screen: rebel, crazy, easy going, etc. Once his latest outbreak came about, his personal brand was not hurt because his target audience already expected this type of behavior, it was consistent. This shows that once you have a solid foundation for your personal brand, and are consistent with it, any press will be good press. How was this different from Tiger Woods/Britney Spears/Mel Gibson, and the negative press on their personal brand?

As we can see, a personal brand is powerful and is necessary. Once it is established, it has the power to attract your target audience and increase your popularity. It is important to stay true to your personal brand and shift it slightly and appropriately with your target audience. People trust your personal brand and do not want to be taken for a fool when you betray your own image.

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