Times are (a) changing. Computers are getting better at many things. Even creative things. It’s definitely a time to invest focus in things that can’t be copied by a computer (easily) - time to invest in what makes you you. I don’t find myself spending a huge amount of time evangelising Gary Vee shtick- but the guy does have a point - maybe a personal brand is worth exploring:
Why a personal brand?
We’ve had web 1 and web 2 and we are allegedly moving into web 3 (If anyone can explain what web 3 ACTUALLY is then please, message me). Whatever it is - it’s not quite the giant revolution that some NFT twitter bulls were touting in late 2020, whilst extremely long on jpegs, and living in what may feel now, like a virtual reality. So the question begs - if we aren’t all wearing nauseating VR ski goggles 6 hours a day and fiat isn’t dead quiiiiiite yet - what really is next?
Something that has been lurking in the shadows for some time is just starting to rear its head - a new path is becoming increasingly better trodden. The influencer, content creator, personal brand model behemoth is gradually entrenching itself into a new kind of normal, and those who have been grinding at personal brands for a decade are reaping some significant fruits. From a base first principles perspective a personality is more immediately captivating and compelling than a brand. This is why branding agencies like Vovi model brands on human attributes. It’s why Trump & Zelensky had fitting resumes to win an election. It’s why Tesla has never spent a dime on advertising.
People are tuning out to advertising and have done so for the last 5 years minimum - brands represented by ‘just’ a brand don’t quite have the edge - over brands that are represented by a person, or at least a relatable human story. We love the relatable - we worship celebrity - the mixture of the two is an intoxicating elixir of hope. So when we see the rich and famous person that we relate to - it resonates - we binge their content - we idolise - and we let them sell us products - whilst clicking ‘skip’ on the corporate branded ads that precede each of their attention grabbing vids. We spent the first decade of the internet setting the scene - building the platforms such as (Apple, Google and so on) - the second period was spent building the networks - (FB, IG, Snapchat and so on) The third period will not yet be some kind of crypto, NFT, VR revolution, it would seem. It will be building new business models that put the content creator, the personality first and the product/experience second. This seems to be the obvious next step.
Which businessmen have adapted?
Let’s put the business hat on and take a look at Steven Bartelett. He went public with social Chain in 2019 and went public with his personality a little more recently. He has engaged in one of the easiest and simplest personal brand builders: the podcast. He understands that podcast listeners offered their ears - but they now offer their eyes too (YouTube has 33% to Spotify’s 22% of podcast listeners preference). Why spend a dollar reaching people with ads when there are infinitely cheaper ways to reach the world for free and sell your products, spin your narrative, exert your influence in a way that cuts through more decisively? His podcast has killed it. He’s nailed the guests - he asks great questions - they are business-y yet somehow his gender split seems not to skew too hard to male - its genius. He gets it.
Which content creators have adapted?
The obvious place to go is OnlyFans but you've heard people make lots of money from that (if you havent here it is). The second most obvious is Mr Beast: with his intrinsically logical and brutally consistent evolution approach to content creation, but again this is an overdone case study - if you aren’t aware of MrBeast though - watch this. A more interesting example however is Cody KO, creator of "i'd cap that" app aged 21 (arguably the original meme), and now youtube comedian from Canada. He has since pioneered one of the most relatable content formats which is now commonplace - the "react video" (arguably the OG gogglebox), and has begun to monetise his fanbase with an incredibly impressive assortment of verticals. From clothing -through novelty mugs - to gated podcast content. If you have reach, and you aren't using it to launch a variety of products to monetise your fanbase - you're behind.
Try building a personal brand - Podcasts aren’t hard to start - tweeting your thoughts is fun - it’s all free and it doesn’t require too much effort. The best way to reach people is through relatability, it has the highest ROI in todays advertising market. Get people to care about you. In general, double down on what makes you you - and what makes you known. It will be an important component of what you are doing in the future, and you’ll probably enjoy it.