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What Sleeping Beauty, Stephen King, and Lady Gaga have in Common and Why You Should Too


NicoleLarsonThe answer was simple. I said Yes.

I didn’t even hesitate. Everything leading up to the moment was planned. Including the location.

When Kurt proposed to me, we were right in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The air smelled of a delightful smokiness from the fireworks that happened a few minutes before. Everywhere I looked there were twinkling lights. Him proposing at Disneyland was no accident. He did it here specifically because of what he knew it would feel like. He did it so we could have a story to tell forever, with a background setting of our favorite place on earth.

Why do I talk about my marriage proposal in regards to branding? It’s not to give mad props to the hubs (yes I see that smile you’ve got on over there you smug scruffy looking nerf herder. You did good, you did good). It’s not even to ward off creepy single readers with a subtle reminder that I’m taken (yea Nicole, they’re lined up around the corner hoping against hope that you were still single…get. over. yourself.)

I bring it up because of the power Disneyland has for us. How Disneyland makes us feel.

And that is exactly what your brand—as an artist and a creative—should do: create feelings.

Disneyland has a very distinct brand. I can sit here and rattle off the various techniques and nuances they may use to set them apart from other brands, but that’ll bore me you. I will tell you, however, how the brand makes us feel.

Nostalgic, childlike, whimsical, romantic, charming, imaginative

The key to a good brand is for it to tell a story.After experiencing a story you usually walk away feeling a certain number of things, whether its a theme park or the latest Captain America movie (which is excellent by the way, go see itstat!)

So the question to ask yourself when you are looking at your creative “thing”is: how do you want people to feel when they come into contact with your brand?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

—Color: Did you know that certain colors elicit certain feelings? People are going to have different reactions to pastels than they would to a black-and-purple-I’m-going-to-seduce-you-with-my-fishnet-stockings combo.

—Language: The type of language you use illustrates your voice. And your voice is linked to your personality. Are you an optimist who believes in fate? Then your language will be more uplifting, hopeful, even wistful. Are you sarcastic in nature? Then your language may be filled with more humor and the ever entertaining self deprecation. (Hence the comment about no one really giving a shit if I’m single…unless you’re Ryan Gosling and in that case I’m available)

—Style: This is also reflective on personality. (Personality? Am I talking about a person or a company? Excellent question my dear Watson, stay tuned). Are you retro? Modern? Chic? Goth? Preppy? Classy?

So ok, I know youve been dying to know, why the hell I keep talking about personality. Because having a brand is like giving your thinga personality. And that personality needs to be consistent in everything you do from this point forward. Like

—How you sign your emails

—What your resume looks like

—What your head shots look like

—How your website is designed

—How you talk on social networking

—How you present yourself in person when you want to make a good impression

—Even to the thank you cards you send out

The work an artist or a creative does is very personal. So it is very possible that your “brand”tells a very similar story to your own self. And it should, right?

Your brand should tell your story, your mission, your message. Some of the most successful creatives have brands. Lady Gaga, the woman dresses herself in meat and veils even when she’s not on stage. Angelina Jolie, she portrays herself as a strong family centered woman who basically kicks ass and the roles she gets portrays that kickassyness. Stephen King, he created a brand for himself right away with his horror stories and now he is very recognizable, thanks to his ability to pump out a new book every seventeen seconds and for staying consistent.

There’s that word again. Consistent.

(Boom! Theres the secret to a brand: figuring out your message/personality and staying consistent so that people will know what to except from you, love you, and keep coming back for more because they know how your brand is going to make them feel. Read that sentence again, its a doozy!)

And here’s how to get started. Ask yourself these questions…(no seriously, get out a pen and a piece of paper and brainstorm)…(I’ll wait)….

What kind of creative do I want to be?

How do I want others to see me and my work?

What do I want people to feel when they come across my brand?

If I had to give myself a tagline (like Nike’s Just Do It) what would it be?

Once you have all of those answered, find a statement or two (I would call it a mission statement but that’s just not sexy) that clearly defines you and your “thing.”Then…

What colors lend themselves to this statement?

What kind of language should I be using?

What style would best portray that?

Play around! Have fun. This shouldn’t happen over night by the way. This is a process and you should constantly be editing it, but the key is…you guessed it: that damn consistency again.

Because….do do do, do do da do (that’s me singing and bopping my head….a brand bop if you will)…

Once you have the message, you can create the statement, then you can pick out the colors, the language, the style, and then you can create your website with matching business cards, you can create a social networking schedule that lends itself perfectly to the message, you can create videos, hell, you can even give yourself a blueprint for the kind of independent projects you want to work on.

And Voila! (Oui Oui)

You’re on your way to a brand.

A brand that people will start to recognize. A brand people will start to associate you with. A brand that people can experience, and in the end walk away with a feeling, forever tied to their memory of you.

Getting engaged at Disneyland was no accident. The feelings the park give us on an average day are the exact feelings we want to feel on the first day of the rest of our lives. Don’t you want people to have that same reaction to you (castles and fireworks optional)?

Is there a successful creative out there with a brand you love? What kind of a message do you want to say about your thing? Let me know in the comments and like my hubs says, Well spitball it.

Nicole Larson

About Nicole Larson

I’m sitting here, writing my YA Novel, waiting for the hubs (to bring me another glass of wine already), when the cat reveals he wants to have his own talk show. This sadly, does not surprise me, so I go back to blogging about taking my creative career seriously. Speaking of blogs…I’m the Founder (and midnight cocktail waitress) of Real Creatives Drink Champagne where I say (cork) screw it to the stereotypes facing all creatives and toast you on living the creative life confidently (including my free 7 day brand building email tutorial called ICEBERG). It’s my own digital (spiked) lemonade stand and if you come over I’ll give you a brownie (because brownies).