As a creative professional, how do you open better opportunities and do more of the work you love? How do you differentiate? In the context of personal branding, this means presenting yourself in a way that sets you apart from others in your field. Your personal brand should be easy to explain in an elevator pitch, yet complex enough to generate a range of ideas and evolve over time.
You can get some unusual personal branding insights from a classic Harvard Business Review interview with Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the richest person in the fashion world, and one of the world’s leading authorities on building “star brands.”
Become a Star Brand
According to Arnault, a star brand has four key characteristics. “A star brand is timeless, modern, fast-growing, and highly profitable,” he says. “It is very hard to balance all four characteristics at once – after all, fast growth is often at odds with high profitability – but that is what makes them stars. If you have a star brand, then basically you can be sure you have mastered a paradox.”
To work toward becoming a creative rockstar, you should cultivate your own unique sensibility independent of passing trends. At the same time, you should pay attention to your media diet and attune yourself to the zeitgeist. And, you must have the courage to ask for what you’re worth. A creative staffing firm such as Artisan Creative can help you get a fair price for your work.
Be Your Own Biggest Fan
“A lot of companies talk about quality, if you want your brand to be timeless, you have to be a fanatic about it,” says Arnault. As a creative professional, this means pouring your passion into every piece of work you do. It also means presenting that work in a way that showcases your personal brand in the most flattering and exciting possible light.
Make sure you invest time and attention to detail when building your creative portfolio so it best communicates who you are and what you’re capable of. Attend networking events to build a professional support system and get comfortable with promoting yourself.
Be Bold and Take Risks
When working with the world’s most famous designers, Arnault’s biggest management priority is to give them the freedom to be themselves. “If you think and act like a typical manager around creative people – with rules, policies, data on customer preferences, and so forth – you will quickly kill their talent. Our whole business is based on giving our artists and designers complete freedom to invent without limits.”
As the manager of your own personal brand, this means giving yourself some space to pursue unusual ideas and try new things. You can orchestrate the right environment to loosen your creative muscles, or do fun and experimental work on your own time – work you really love – to freshen your perspective. Also, give yourself permission to occasionally pitch a risky idea. It may unlock some hidden potential in a project.
First, build rigorous self-discipline. Then give yourself the freedom to be yourself and shoot for greatness.
Seek Inspiration From Unlikely Sources
While he doesn’t make demands, Arnault does encourage designers to broaden their horizons. “Not long ago, I said to one of our designers, ‘Why don’t you take a trip to Japan and see what the teenage girls are wearing on the streets at night?’ These girls are very leading edge in fashion; they create trends years before they hit the mainstream, like with those very high shoes, and it makes very good sense to watch them. I did not say to the designer, ‘Go and see what kinds of shoes they are wearing and copy them,’ although I was hoping he would notice their shoes. I just suggested, ‘Go look.'”
To grow and refine your personal brand, capture ideas and inspiration from as many different places as you can. Go to museums, art galleries, symphonies, and public gardens, and take note of anything that strikes you. Explore the hidden history of your profession and how it’s done differently in other times and places. Keep an open mind, and you’ll have the flexibility to do unique, courageous work that is unmistakably yours.
At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals get more from their lives and careers. Contact Artisan today to learn more.
We hope you’ve enjoyed issue # 546 of the a.blog.