Creating a successful personal brand in today’s world is harder and more competitive than ever.
The industry has become saturated as platforms such as YouTube and Instagram have given people the space to become social media influencers so it’s harder for people to stand out from the crowd.
Renowned drag queen Divina de Campo discussed how she created an authentic and enduring brand identity on Fiverr’s Ninetwentynine podcast – here are her tips on how to build a successful personal brand.
Understand your audience
My audience has always been front of mind in all my ventures. Like with any business, it’s important to know your audience inside out so you can meet their demands and tailor your approach to resonate with them. Understanding who they are and what they’re interested in should be the starting point to any activity and is the best way to help you engage with and grow your audience.
I started out with a style that was rather conceptual and quite artsy but looking at my audience at the time, this wasn’t going to work. The shows I was doing at local pubs were definitely different to what I’m doing now. As my brand grew and my career progressed, so did my audience. Each performance is tailored to who they were and what I view as the best content to engage that particular audience. Of course, being the producer of my entire brand and the director of all my content, I quickly learned how to adapt my skills and be flexible in each situation without compromising my authenticity.
As you grow, so will your brand identity and with time, your audience will also grow and adapt with you. When building a brand, it’s about looking for where the opportunity is and a lot of those opportunities come from your audience. It’s important to remember the core of your brand whilst being open and flexible to create an enduring yet authentic brand.
Creating your personal brand requires wearing many hats – you’re in charge of the creative and the logistical side and you have to be on top of everything from finances to production. It’s important to have your ducks in a row, keep organised whilst keeping your brand fresh with creative content. Not only can this be a lot to handle but the management of the back end of your brand can really make or break your operation. When first starting out, my main goal was to make it and I focused on putting all my work out there and centred my work around my craft the creative side of things. Like many, you enter the business with a passion and can be blindsided by the admin behind building a brand.
There wasn’t much structure to my work and I found myself freestyling a lot. Learning to take a methodical approach allowed me to be more targeted and run my brand like a business. Being able to see where you have come, where to go next and how to plan your activity set me up for my success. Being methodical empowers to you test new boundaries whilst staying strategic. It doesn’t mean you have to compromise the creative ‘fun’ side of your work, in fact, it’s a pillar for that. Having a strong foundation allows you to freely focus on the front end production without worrying that the backend logistics will let you down. Overall, I’d say it’s the most effective way of working.
Authenticity is key
Breaking through in any industry is difficult but building a personal brand has an added pressure now that social media has heightened the competition in the business. Building a brand identity that stands out from the crowd is the first challenge but doing so whilst staying true to yourself and retaining your brand authenticity is a whole new obstacle.
Also, you’ll quickly be exposed to critics and people scrutinising your business, which is, of course, your personal identity. I credit a lot of my success to being consistent in my brand message and staying true to myself. Don’t be afraid to push back on anyone trying to change what you stand for and remind them who you are and what your brand means. With the saturated social media influencer market, it can feel like you’re competing with the masses and trends in the industry may force your hand in questioning your personal brand. Remember that you are your product and staying true to that is the key to creating an enduring brand as your audience will appreciate your authenticity and your brand identity will be more powerful as people trust you. Staying true to yourself will allow you to build a loyal audience and keep engagement levels high as people are more likely to resonate with an authentic brand that is not just following the crowd.
Remember that you can’t put round pegs in square holes. In every market, you will be forced to flexible as change is inevitable. Be aware of when and how the industry evolves and look at how your audience has developed then adapt to that. Being flexible is a key trait in for any entrepreneur – as markets change we have to adapt to that order to thrive. This doesn’t mean you have to change your entire brand or offering, it may be that you change how you connect with your audience or focus on certain content more than others at a particular time. Being adaptable is about developing with your macro-environment whilst staying true to yourself – this will ultimately improve your brand identity whilst allowing you to remain authentic to your personal brand.
Like many, as the world faced dramatic changes, I was forced to adapt and maintain the relationship with my audience whilst being considerate of the environment around me. When you’re faced with challenges like this, it’s about creating opportunities for yourself rather than focusing on the negatives. We’re all getting used to a new way of working and connecting with each other, whether it’s on a personal or professional level. It’s about using the resources available to us and going from there.
We’re lucky to have technology that keeps us all connected 24/7 and for me, it meant I was able to speak to my audience whenever I wanted, from anywhere in the world. I adapted by introducing my one-women online concert, ‘At home with Divina de Covid’ which allows me to continue performing to my global audience, straight from my living room!
There are so many tools and technologies out there today that keep us all connected. No matter what forces you to change the way you work, being agile can allow you to easily adapt and create opportunities out of these challenges.
Embrace your anxieties
In creating your personal brand, you’ll find that your anxieties and insecurities become heightened or brought to attention as your brand grows. Having ‘haters’ is a common effect of success and with widespread brand presence, there is greater chance of people voicing their critiques and highlighting what they see is a flaw. Personally, I don’t acknowledge any negativity I receive from people I don’t respect – their comments are usually not constructive and I don’t think you should waste time or energy on them. That’s not to say that you should take my approach. The best thing you can do is find what works for you. If you want to acknowledge the haters, question if you could take anything useful from what they’re saying, why they may be saying such things and don’t hold on to the negativity too much. Always focus on the positives and remember that you can’t please everyone.