Beyoncé is a celebrity and the CEO of a multimillion-dollar company. She is also the product that company sells. Beyoncé is a person and a commodity. She’s a brand, and in the twenty-first century, we call her a macro-influencer. Just like all other influencers, Beyoncé has to be able to separate herself from her product in order to maintain long term viability and sustainability.
What makes influencer branding unique from traditional branding is that the core product is a real person, not an inanimate object. Sure, a CEO could be emotionally attached to a company or a product, but they are still one step removed. When their product receives harsh criticism or they experience the sting of a failed partnership, it is not a direct hit. In my upcoming book, From Individual to Empire: A Guide to Building an Authentic and Powerful Brand, I share the secrets of positive psychology that not only help you protect yourself from the ups and downs of the business but factor heavily into the creation of your brand.
A real, live, breathing person presents many challenges to creating a successful brand, challenges a product-based company simply would not face. There are psychological components that must be addressed and incorporated into an influencer’s brand identity that are nonexistent for a typical product. These forces must help shape the brand as well as grow it over time. Failure to tap into the psychological components at the onset will spell disaster for anyone building a brand.
The very first thing an influencer must do is learn to view themselves as a product. They need to be able to step back, remove their personal bias from the equation, and make sound business decisions. McDonald’s golden arches can’t think, and their french fries don’t feel. They have a board of directors who study analytics, make projections, and develop strategies to increase their market share. Influencers, on the other hand, may have a very difficult time separating the creation of their product from the business of getting that product to the consumer. They tend to make shortsighted business decisions based on emotional or personal needs, and that typically leads to disaster. That’s why the first thing a young influencer has to learn is how to distinguish between the self as a person and the self that is a commodity.
Secondly, an influencer must be okay with commercializing personal attributes. I realize this may sound dirty to some, but it’s, unfortunately, a requirement. Public figures must be willing to be vulnerable, sharing their true selves in order to create a connection with their audience. And as we have all witnessed on social media, this will cause negative feedback that can sting. Without the proper tools to separate relevant data pertaining to the business and irrelevant data pertaining to the ego, the influencer may become despondent which then effects first their health and then their business.
By separating the self as a product and the self as a person, the influencer protects their ego and maintains positivity in the overall business. They protect themselves from burn out and depression, which has played out in many ugly ways from drugs and alcohol to suicide. Remember, if an influencer is unhealthy, so is their business!
I’m going to be revealing some of the positive psychology principles that pertain to influencers throughout the next few blogs. So, be sure to follow along here and on my socials! And as always, share this post with a friend who may need to hear this message.