I’ve come to a conclusion about branding. There is so much written about re-branding, but I’m beginning to feel that re-branding doesn’t really exist. You start a business, a career, a life and where you start becomes your brand. When things aren’t working, you can’t suddenly decide to be something else. The marketplace knows you already and it has it’s learned opinions about you. As the old saying goes: Wherever you go, there you are.
I’m not just talking about business here. You have a brand as a professional for sure. But, you also have a brand as a husband, parent, sibling, child and friend. You’re known by others around you for certain traits, attributes and failings. That’s your brand.
It’s the beginning of the year. The holiday decorations are put away, you are (temporarily) back in the gym and if you’re like most people, it’s a time of reflection. If you’re like me, you are compulsively writing new goals and considering where you want to go this year and how you’re going to get there.
Now, I for one am not fond of looking back. That only spawns either self congratulations or regret. Neither of which are particularly useful. I certainly allow myself to learn from the past. However, my personal tendency is to assess where I am now and figure out where to go from here. I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go. So, if I can determine where I stand right now, (and if you can be honest with yourself, you can too) I can make a few minor corrections and stay on course. Tweaking that course becomes my next brand.
I started as an actor and musician. As I traveled that path, I learned that there were things about that life that made me very unhappy and that I just couldn’t reconcile. I slowly started moving towards production and before I did production full time there was an overlap where I was still performing. When I moved to repping from commercial production, I was still working in advertising, just in a parallel capacity.
The reality is that I started in entertainment and advertising and I still work in entertainment and advertising. As I’ve traveled my career path, I’ve never totally reinvented myself, but I’ve grown. There are several times where I’ve leapt instead of stepped. But, overall it’s been a slow process of next branding. Of tweaking the course, of adding layers to my experience.
Next branding is a vertical process. Of putting experience and skill on top of each other like blocks. The common thought is that brands scale horizontally, and they do. But, only in response to the desire to grow vertically. You widen your foundation only in order grow upwards. It’s simple physics.
So, I ask the question: what’s next for your brand? What will add value to the brand you’ve built already? What will add value to those you work with and those you love? What horizontal steps do you need to put in place in order to grow vertically?
Write out what you want and an action plan for how you’re going to get there. Your experience is invaluable, don’t look back at it in judgement, learn from it to move forward.