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The Transition: From an Artist to a Brand
NXT ANIMAL is a newsletter exploring the future of creativity. We translate new trends in tech and business for artists and creators.
This question is very confusing: Should I start building my own personal brand, or should I start developing a brand name?
I’ve been there.
I was a filmmaker and writer who wished to start a company. I literally spent 2-3 months reading, researching, and asking questions to see if I should start my business as Reza, or start it with a brand name. Finally, I decided I wanted to build a brand, something bigger than myself.
A brand name suggests scale. If one day your business becomes more than a one-person operation, a brand name provides room to grow. Also, for me personally, I wanted to create a global brand for artists and creatives and felt that this would be easier to accomplish with a brand name.
So I started building my company, NXT ANIMAL.
But then I also started using my own name alongside the brand name. For example, most of my emails between the clients and audience have been sent through as
Reza at nxtanimal dot com. I am also the only writer of the company's newsletter.
That's when I asked myself, "Isn’t this a mixed message?"
A bit later, I learned that some other new creators and founders run their businesses the same way, which gave me a great validation. Although they start a brand or company, they are the face of it themselves.
Another thing that I learned from them is how they are sharing the process. If you follow the designer, Jack Butcher, or the founder of ConvertKit, Nathan Barry, you can actually see how they are shaping and pivoting their companies in front of their audience (a.k.a. building in public).
The takeaway is: If you are planning to build a company, then do it authentically by being the face of it.
But what if you are not yet ready to start as a brand or a company?
I have some cool stuff for you!
From 20 bucks for templates to a legit company
Ezra Cohen started sharing his ideas and tricks as a young and hip video editor on IG and YouTube. After a while, he started releasing some simple templates. His products were so successful that it took his Instagram audience from 3k to 70k in one year. Eventually, he transitioned his personal brand to a company called EZCO TV.
That’s the same story with Tiago Forte, a successful online teacher and writer. He explains his transformation as follows: “I started as an independent creator – but over time, I chose to build out a real business that transcended my personal brand”. And that’s how he started Forte Lab.
The last scenario: the ARTISAN
But what if you don’t want to start a brand or a company at all? What if your nature is closer to that of an artist or a craftsperson?
That’s totally fine. But be an artist for 2021. Use the Internet to unlock the traditional gates, such as galleries, record labels, and publications.
I strongly suggest that you follow artists and creators such as Pablo Rochat, Elliot Ulm, and JR. Another great example of someone who is mixing traditional media with Internet spaces is the New York Magazine art critic, Jerry Saltz.
What do these people have in common?
They don’t wait to be hired or assigned. They are willing to use social media as an open sketchbook. They experiment with their ideas and share them in order to find the type of work they wish to do. This practice attracts audiences, and therefore brands and clients.
None of these creators, at least up until now, showed any interest in running a big agency or company.
If you want to dig a bit deeper: at the end of this article, I wrote about Pablo Rochat and his unfiltered approach to social media.
That’s all for now. I’m leaving home to go trick or treating with my son. Remember, whether you run a biz or remain an artist, life is like a Halloween party for us creatives. Put on the costume you enjoy, and go out to discover and have fun with people you love.
Every week, I send out a brief and practical newsletter to hundreds of new wave creatives, founders, and creators all over the globe. Join us!