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Faces Are the New Logos in the World of Creator Brands

I’m certain you’re familiar with the concept that “a logo doesn’t constitute a brand,” but it certainly serves as its representation. Logos were created to identify and set apart products and companies in the physical world. For instance, you might spot McDonald’s at the nearest service station, Nike on your fitness instructor’s shirt, or Signal in the toiletries aisle.

Faces Are the New Logos in the World of Creator Brands

Nevertheless, the online realm differs somewhat from real-life scenarios. Our attention is less focused on spaces and objects and more on visual content like videos and images. In this digital content landscape, faces hold significant importance.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, where platforms like TikTok empowered everyone, including brands, to create videos that could potentially reach a vast audience regardless of their follower count, businesses are increasingly recognizing that entrusting creators to manage content creation (both behind and in front of the camera) can lead to substantial growth and relatability. But what implications does this hold for the brand itself?

The Emergence of Brands Driven by Creators

I believe we’ve reached a consensus that a logo alone doesn’t define a brand. True brands are built upon a vision and purpose, fostering trust. The concept of purpose-driven branding, introduced by Simon Sinek over a decade ago in “Start with Why,” still remains the cornerstone of most contemporary brand-building endeavors.

 

Common Traits of Creator Brands

  • Most employ advertising, but they place higher value on organic content, often excelling in this domain.
  • Their marketing strategy leans towards decentralization, collaborating with other creators to endorse and distribute their commercial content and perspectives.
  • They aim to be relatable like a friend, not inspirational like a leader.
  • Prioritizing connection takes precedence over striving for utmost excellence.
  • Their communication involves interaction, rather than being one-sided.
  • Video serves as their primary mode of communication, as opposed to design or text.
  • It’s less about the reasons behind their actions and more about the individuals driving them. This is why people are more likely to recognize Elon Musk in a picture than to accurately depict the Tesla logo. In contrast, this wouldn’t hold true for brands like Nike, Pepsi, or McDonald’s.

The Marvels and Complex Aspects of Creator Brands Acknowledging the rise of creator brands due to more entrepreneurs adopting content creation, the question arises: why should the general population care? The answer lies in examples like Prime becoming the fastest-growing sports drink in history and the Feastables launch video garnering nearly 200 million views. To put this in context, the most-watched Super Bowl commercial received about 140 million views.

Efficiency of Creator Advertising

  • Expansive Creator Networks Boost Brand Awareness: The effectiveness of creator brands doesn’t solely depend on the brand’s financial resources, but also on the quality and reach of their network. When a prominent creator introduces a brand, smaller creators join in to benefit from the momentum. This generates not only free distribution but also potent word-of-mouth marketing. A quick YouTube search for “Prime” illustrates that a significant portion of content isn’t produced by the creators or the brand itself.
  • Leveraging Creator Expertise Improves Marketing Performance: Creators possess insights into media creation, distribution, and content consumption behaviors. This knowledge allows brands to not only achieve strong organic performance from the start but also to craft more engaging advertisements.
  • Community Strengthens Product-Market Fit and Feedback Loops: Building an engaged community is challenging, yet it’s a valuable asset for enhancing products and services.

The personal brand of the creator is intricately linked to the brand itself. This holds true at various points during the brand’s growth, but is particularly crucial in the initial stages. A decision made by the creator who leads the brand can significantly impact its performance and reputation. A case in point is Elon Musk’s choice to take control of Twitter.

However, scaling can pose challenges. As the creator expands and introduces more brands, each with new products, maintaining a healthy relationship between the creator and the brand or products can become difficult. A viable solution could involve implementing a strong diversification strategy. An interesting example of this can be seen in Feastables and Beast Burgers. Both brands utilize secondary characters from the Mr. Beast universe (such as Karl and Chandler) to promote new products, thereby alleviating some pressure from the brand’s main figure, Jimmy.

Strategies for Infusing Creativity into Your Brand There are two viable approaches to develop a creator brand or infuse creative elements into an existing one.

Founder-Led Creator Brands: If you’re reading this, chances are you (or your founder) aren’t a top creator just yet. That’s okay. You can initiate your journey as a creator by starting to feature in your brand’s content. If you haven’t done so already, you can even create content through your personal brand.

However, it’s understandable that many founders or entrepreneurs lack the time to learn creator skills or produce content, even if they’re enthusiastic about taking a leading role in representing their brands. This is where a capable content team can step in.

I find it intriguing how certain content teams have shown minimal evolution in recent years. Despite the significant shift in the landscape of online content due to the emergence of discovery-based algorithms, many content teams still prioritize crafting material primarily tailored for search engines. This emphasis often revolves around SEO and written content as the means to bolster their brand’s growth.

An excellent illustration of a discovery-focused content team that capitalizes on the presence of a somewhat introverted founder is Nothing Technology. This tech brand is striving to compete with Apple, a global giant. Their strategy is particularly clever. Recognizing their limitations in terms of resources and execution compared to Apple, they are positioning themselves as a more daring, straightforward, and relatable alternative. This approach has proven to be remarkably successful.

Through their YouTube Channel, Nothing Technology’s content team has curated a diverse collection of captivating content spanning various popular genres. This ranges from reaction videos to product reviews and even collaborations with creators. Many of these videos prominently feature Carl Pei, the CEO of the company. However, they’ve also shrewdly diversified by including other team members in the mix.

Brands led by creators Not every founder is inclined to become a public figure, and that’s perfectly acceptable. You can still establish a creator-driven brand by collaborating with creators (either in-house or as partners) to enhance your outreach, elevate engagement, and cultivate a committed community.

Here’s how to approach it:

  • Identify a micro-creator (with a following of 10,000 to 50,000) already producing content in your niche and propose a lasting partnership.
  • Provide the creator with a clear understanding of your target audience, product category, primary advantages, as well as your brand’s positioning and point of view.
  • Allow the creator to decide the content to share and how to present it.
  • Initiate organic growth while finding your voice on the platforms.

However, what if the creator eventually departs from your company? It’s entirely fine. Just keep moving forward. Similar situations have arisen multiple times in Hollywood, and we’ve all come to terms with it. Think about the various actors who’ve portrayed Spiderman or James Bond. As viewers, we acknowledge that it’s a normal part of the process.

Collaborate with a small group of creators who can potentially work together on content. Mr. Beast serves as an excellent example of this collaborative approach, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, The Futur has effectively employed this strategy. While Chris Do has always remained at the helm, he astutely introduced distinct personalities like Matthew Encina or Ben Burns, which breathed new life into the brand and broadened its horizons.

 

Faces have become the contemporary counterparts to logos. We are currently in the early stages of the creator economy, and an increasing number of individuals are recognizing that when it comes to establishing a strong online presence or brand, nothing surpasses content creation.

As adeptly explained by Noal Yuval Harrari in his book “Sapiens,” trademarks were conceived by capitalists to detach commercial activities from specific individuals within the commercial landscape. Naturally, this approach carries significant legal and growth advantages. The most evident manifestation of a trademark is undoubtedly the logo, which enables us to distinguish trademarks associated with businesses managed by groups of individuals, not just one person. Purpose has historically been employed to confer symbols with meaning and emotion. However, forging direct connections with people holds far more potent potential.

This explains why we find ourselves more engaged with creators compared to brands. This inclination has always been present within us. Human beings are inherently inclined to be drawn to other humans. The mode of communication might be through symbols, but today’s technology empowers us to consistently produce and distribute media at an expansive scale, often at no cost. This shift now enables media to facilitate direct human-to-human connections, and your brand can reap the benefits of this transformation.

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