Remember that scene in American Gangster where Frank Lucas (Denzel) came to Nicky Barnes (Cuba) club and insisted that he stopped stepping on the dope he bought from him and calling it “Blue Magic” because it was fucking up his rep and his overall brand?
Now would a geeker on the street be able to tell the difference between Nicky’s stepped on product and Frank’s pure product? Eh maybe, maybe not but that’s not the point. Frank wasn’t taking any chances with his brand so he acted immediately to put a stop to the fuck shit. Frank understood the importance of a brand.
Whether you’re a painter, photographer, videographer, rapper, graphic designer, writer, curator, whatever. Talent is not enough. It’s important but it’s not enough. Your brand is your identity. It’s how people identify with you. You can have all the talent in the world but if your brand is lacking it’s going to be an uphill battle for you to get where you want to be.
Pepsi. That’s a brand name. I stand by it. I guarantee it.
For The Creatives. Here’s some tips on building your brand. This actually applies to non creative people too so they can use these tips also.
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?
You shouldn’t have an identity crisis like a 2009 Nicki Minaj verse. Who the fuck are you? What do you care about? Is your favorite drink Peach Vess? Where you from? What you look like? What do you care about outside of what you do creatively? Break yourself down to the most complex and simple forms. Write these things down on paper and then show those things to the streets in the way that makes you unique. Be truthful about it though. People aren’t dumb. They can see through the fugazi shit. Keep it 10 outta 10 and you’ll be straight.
WHAT’S YOUR LANE?
This is the same as finding your niche. You have to find your lane and when you find your lane you have to do the dash. You gotta be all in. This is important because once you find your lane your target becomes easier to hit. Your audience, fan base, clients, customers, etc become easier to find and connect with. After that you can turn the fuck up and start juggin.
REPUTATION. GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE.
Don’t be one of these goofy muhfuckas who don’t give a fuck about their reputation in the streets. Your reputation is your calling card. It’s what people check on to see if they wanna fuck with and work with you. If your reputation shaky then people aren’t gonna wanna link and do business with you. Simple as that. If your reputation is trash and no one takes you seriously then your shit is not going to go nowhere. If your reputation trash you need to follow these steps.
Look in the mirror and admit you’re a headass.
After that go over every move you made. Every interaction you’ve had with other people. Now try to figure out what’s going wrong. If you can’t find what’s wrong then you probably need to quit what you’re doing. If you do find out what’s wrong, just take the necessary steps to rebuild your reputation.
Accountability is key. You have to be able to admit you've been fucking up. You have to be able to take an L without blaming everyone but yourself. How you respond to criticism is also important. Walk that line very carefully. Some criticism is fair and some isn't but your response to it will always effect your reputation.
It’s all about action. Don't continuously tell me what you're doing. People need to SEE what you're doing. If people see you active in the streets and staying true then you’ll have a better shot the next go round.
BELIEVE AND FOLLOW
First, you have to believe in what the fuck you doing. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then why should I?
Second, this is how brands work and how they get supporters. They either have to believe you or want to be you or follow you. You have to have one of the 3 things going for your brand. This is how you get paid.
You’re not Banksy my nigga. The Noob Saibot from Mortal Kombat shit is not gonna work for you. It took that man about 20 years of that unknown shit to get his name where it is today. You sitting behind a computer and your phone all day can only get you so far. Why are you trying to be a popular unknown muhfucka? You don't even clear $1000 a month on your craft. You can't afford to try that artsy anonymous shit.
You gotta get out here and show face. Even if you hate it. People call this shit networking. I don’t call it networking. That shit dead to me or the way it used to be done is dead. I hate the word networking too. Sounds like some "Hi I'm Bob from Accounting" shit. Uppity type shit.
Just go to events that goes hand and hand with what you do creatively. Introduce yourself to people and just go jam with muhfuckas. It doesn't have to be all about business. Good long lasting relationships can be built on having fun and things outside of business.
You can have business cards if you want. Some people may use them. Some may turn them into filters for smoking tree. Whatever. If you're a likable person then the people will remember you, support what you do, or wanna work with you. I value who the person is more than what they do creatively. You can be good at what you do but if I feel you a fuck nigga then I’m not doing anything with you. Just show face and connect.
CAN I FIND YOU?
I shouldn’t be able to find out who killed Tupac Shakur before I can find you and your brand. Simple. With technology where it is you need to be everywhere out here like dog shit. Make a simple website and a simple logo and work.
I see people put a LOT into websites and logos. Nobody cares about that shit. People care about the quality of what you do. You can have the most basic website and if you're work is super dope no one will notice or care about how good or bad your website is. As long as they can find you and your work and your work is high quality, that's all that matters.
FEED THE STREETS
You need to feed the streets weekly. If you can’t get creative content up weekly then you need to have behind the scenes footage. Be on Facebook live. Snapchat. Instagram. Twitter. As long as it deals with your brand you’ll be 100 out here. The streets will also get to know you (The face behind the brand) also. So you killing two birds with one stone.
CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT is what it’s all about. Show the streets your process. Bring them into your world. You gotta be consistent. You’re gonna have good weeks and bad weeks but as long as you’re consistent you’re gonna have longevity.
Whip wit ya wrist and take that risk. You'll never progress if all you do is side bet.
THE LONG TERM AND THE LEGACY
Every decision you make when it comes to your brand ask yourself this question.
“Will the brand take a step forward and contribute to my legacy?”
The money is cool but if that’s all you in it for then either you’re gonna be sad or you’re gonna fall short. People won’t remember the money. They’re gonna remember how you made them feel. That’s what legacy is. It’s immortality. Your brand will grant you immortality if you build it right. The money will come if you put legacy and doing right by people first.
Bottom line. If your brand is real then you've won. Real shit last.