dark brand

How do you turn on your dark brand?

I HAVE ONE SIMPLE – AND PROFOUND – QUESTION FOR YOU…
 
There are no shortcuts when it comes to creating a dark personal brand (aka – a mysterious, magnetic, moody, Machiavellian, mystical, magical experience for your audience).
 
If you’re not turned on by your personal brand – which is what happens when you try to be something you’re not, or when you copy others – your audience will be turned off.
 
Your audience knows a real – or manufactured – dark brand when they see one.
 
So, don’t take shortcuts.
 
Instead, nail these 3 steps – IN THIS ORDER:
1. Your Identity (the internal brand) – who you are and what you want
2. Your Image (the external brand) – how you communicate your identity
3. Your Income (the strategic brand) – what business model respects your identity
 
Not sure if you’re a dark personal brand?
 
Trust your instincts.
 
There is no formula – just the hallmarks of a dark personal brand: PRIMAL, PROVOCATIVE, POWERFUL. You will instinctively be drawn to these concepts, and they will be an undercurrent through your whole life – if you choose to look. Darkness leaves clues.
 
Been ignoring those clues?
 
Feel like you’re play-acting, pretending, procrastinating?
 
Want to turn yourself on again?
 
Ask yourself: WHAT IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THE WORLD IN WHICH I LIVE?*
 
Don’t edit or second-guess your answer; let the symbols come directly and strongly from your subconscious – and they will tell you what you’re made of, and whether you’re a dark brand… or not.
 
(*A profound answer, from an extraordinary female adventurer and author who later went on to trek solo across Australia’s outback: ‘Desert, purity, fire, air, hot wind, space, sun, desert desert desert.’)

How do you create a dark personal brand?

I specialise in personal branding and Dark Branding – for women, and for the female audience.

Clients come to me for advice on creating a dark personal brand.

Do you want a dark personal brand?

You need to start at the beginning.

So, let’s break it down.

A personal brand is:

An experience.

You create an experience for your audience with 3 things, IN THIS ORDER:

  1. a lead character (your internal Identity)
  2. a storyline (your external Image)
  3. a way to interact (your Income Strategy & Source)

A personal brand is not:

A logo, tagline, website, or any other copy or visual device.

(The test: remove those things from your current brand… and see if anything remains.)

Then…

A dark brand is:

An experience… that is primal, provocative and powerful.

You can personalise these concepts by asking yourself 3 things:

  • What’s my Desire (the primal)? – ie: what do you want to be/do/have?
  • What’s my Dissent (the provocative)? – ie: what makes you different?
  • What’s my Dynamite (the powerful)? – ie: what’s your one-of-a-kind zone of genius?

A dark brand is not:

A cheap marketing stunt that uses sex, death, fear, depression, hate etc for shock value.

(The test: again – remove those things from your current brand… and see if anything remains.)

The above is a simplified blueprint of a professional process that requires time, courage, honesty and implementation. There are no shortcuts, and it’s not for everyone.

But the rewards are great if you are one of the ones.

 

 

 

What is Dark Branding… and are you it?

I coined the term, Dark Branding, to describe the realm of storytelling that is the antithesis of, and antidote to, light branding – which is where marketing is pretty much stuck at the moment (think the endless, cookie-cutter memes of ‘happiness’ and ‘gratefulness’, and content or brands that perpetuate the myth of perfect motherhood/bodies/interiors/diets etc etc etc).

While there will always need to be light AND dark (read up on Taoism for more on this), society’s current obsession with the light side of life – and the misguided idea that we should be working towards a Utopia – means that there is an unparalleled opportunity right now for genuinely dark brands, whether a person or a product, to cut through the forgettable mass and make a unforgettable mark.

But what is Dark Branding?

Dark Branding must be:
• Primal (example: Dita von Teese). Primal refers to the physical plane – your actual human body; all the messy blood, sweat and tears of it, the erotic and the enjoyable, the painful and the pleasurable. Light brands are often concerned with the spiritual realm, and the rejection of the physical.
• Provocative (example: Twin Peaks). That which is unusual, unapologetic, unique and utterly, enigmatically wondrous owns this space. Rather than simply ‘sex sells’, the truly provocative is something very, very hard to pin down.
• Powerful (example: Museum of Old and New Art, aka MONA). Something becomes powerful because it is bold, boldly goes where others don’t and is beholden to nothing. Something powerful cannot be ignored, and it therefore changes and challenges the world around it.

These three are the non-negotiables.

Dark Branding is also:
• Premium – because it is, by its very nature, a niche proposition
• Personal – ditto
• Peerless – ditto
• Perennial – ditto
• Polarising – ditto
• Un-PC – and therefore needed on our intellectually timid planet

Dark Branding is NOT:
• Simply sex or porn – it is more sophisticated and subtle than this
• Obsessed with death – this is an element or theme, naturally, but it is not the be all
• (Only) visually dark – a dark brand can be visually light, yet still have an undercurrent of darkness (think of one of the original masters of personal branding, Frida Kahlo)

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you have a personal or product-based brand that is not getting traction, or feels stale or off somehow, here are some questions for you…

ARE YOU TRYING TO BE LIGHT WHEN YOU’RE MEANT TO BE DARK?
This is an affliction. It comes from people being scared of their inherent darkness. They avoid making the hard decision to understand their own darkness and instead look around them at what’s trending – and simply copy the conventions of the day (this is why those insipid, sparkly gold, handwritten Instagram quotes abound). But if your true nature leans to the dark, then the closer you get to expressing this, the more your world will resonate with others (and with yourself).

ARE YOU TRYING TO BE DARK WHEN YOU’RE MEANT TO BE LIGHT?
This is less common – because it’s simply more challenging to be openly dark than it is openly light. Society is not so accepting of the dark at the moment. But, again, it’s about being yourself. A true light brand (not a contrived, copycat version) is a wonderful thing.

Personally, I have never tried to be light. I’ve always known it’s not me. (If you know of the Birthday Book, I am born on the Day of the Dark Pragmatist, which it’s eerily apt). I have researched, created and collected dark brands for more than 20 years – and I currently have two of my own. I have admittedly been guilty of toning down my darkness in the past. But experience has taught me one thing: if your brand turns you on, it will turn others on. If you are turned off by yourself, then others will also turn off from you. So the closer you are to your true self (whether you lean to the light or the dark), the more successful and happier you will be, both personally and professionally.

So, if you are a dark brand – be brave and go bloody be a dark brand!

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