This entry is a summary/adaptation of an interesting article I read about self-branding written by Tom Peters back in 1997. The original article is geared more towards people working in large companies, so I’ve tailored some of it to be more applicable to marketing filmmakers.
To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.
In this industry you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project, and you figure out how to distinguish yourself from other filmmakers. During this process you need to create a distinctive role for yourself, and create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.
Ask yourself: What do I do that makes me different, indispensable, intriguing? Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from other filmmakers. What do people say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy personal trait? What makes you stand out?
So how do you market brand You? You work on other people’s projects. Teach. Blog or write for the paper. Meet people. This article was written in 1997, before social media was on the scene so I’m sure he’d write it differently not but basically you need to be visible.
This next paragraph is important so I’m cutting and pasting.
The second important thing to remember about your personal visibility campaign is: it all matters. When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do — and everything you choose not to do — communicates the value and character of the brand. Everything from the way you handle phone conversations to the email messages you send to the way you conduct business in a meeting is part of the larger message you’re sending about your brand…The big trick to building your brand is to find ways to nurture your network of colleagues -consciously…Most important, remember that power is largely a matter of perception. If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader.
I also particularly like this idea about résumés:
You don’t have an old-fashioned résumé anymore! You’ve got a marketing brochure for brand You. Instead of a static list of titles held and positions occupied, your marketing brochure brings to life the skills you’ve mastered, the projects you’ve delivered, the braggables you can take credit for. And like any good marketing brochure, yours needs constant updating to reflect the growth — breadth and depth — of brand You.
And this concept of a career:
A career is now a checkerboard. Or even a maze. It’s full of moves that go sideways, forward, slide on the diagonal, even go backward when that makes sense. (It often does.) A career is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, gain you new expertise, develop new capabilities, and constantly reinvent you as a brand.
What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects. Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me Inc. What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as a technical wizard? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market? What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love? However you answer these questions, search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement. And review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.
It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today.