From faux pas on Twitter to the success that comes with millions of adoring fans, celebrities run the gamut on lessons in personal branding. By looking at what Hollywood stars do right and wrong when it comes to branding, entrepreneurs can put together smarter marketing packages, especially on the Internet.
Look for the Big Break, Understand the Long Haul
Celebrities usually come into the limelight in one of two ways. Either they get a big break that catapults them to the top, or they work their way up step by step.
Businesses should work daily to gain more exposure in the market in little ways -- working themselves up to a bigger audience one customer at a time.
At the same time, keep an eye out for opportunities. Features on your local television news program, a mention in a popular website, or a retweet from a Twitter power player are all breaks that can expose your brand to thousands.
Pay Attention to the Audience and Gain Control of the Message
Celebrities with the best PR campaigns tend to have some control over the message.
Obviously, you can't police what everyone says about you online, but you can understand what message consumers are spreading. Keeping an eye on social media and online reviews lets you understand where both negative and positive information is coming from, ensuring you can answer concerns with your own messaging and actions.
Don't censor your audience by removing posts or confronting individuals -- that just makes you look petty or afraid. Instead, respond with specific information about your brand or try to contact a specific customer to offer solutions to a situation.
Be Different, but Be Yourself
For better or worse, the celebrities who are household names are unique. From Lady Gaga to Weird Al, well known celebrities may say outrageous things, dress oddly, or make decisions that break with the norm.
At the same time, unique branding only succeeds long-term if the differences are genuine.
The TOMS shoe brand carved a place for itself in a competitive niche by donating a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair purchased by a customer. Such a campaign could have easily fallen into the category of publicity stunt, but the TOMS brand is wrapped around charitable activity -- it is an organic part of the brand.
Become a Specialist
Being typecast isn't something most celebrities enjoy, but you don't have to box yourself in to become a specialist.
Actor Stephen Amell, who plays television's Arrow, is relatively new to large audiences. Over just two seasons, Amell built a Facebook following of over a million fans without using a PR company.
Amell has become a go-to personality for the television show, DC Comics, and his own wine company. He participates in online Q & A sessions, hosts events at comic cons, and stages raffles for charity by offering comic-based goodies to his fans.
By concentrating on his character, his fans, and his niche, he's been widely successful, positioning his personal brand for future growth.
Entrepreneurs can follow suit: Find ways to engage others with the specifics of your business or idea. Don't try to be everything to everyone, but start with a small scope and master that before you grow your brand.
Kindness Goes a Long Way
Nothing lights up social media faster than a story about celebrity kindness. From a football player buying hundreds of dollars in Christmas presents for needy children to celebrity couples adopting children from Africa, people love to see kindness in action.
Seek opportunities to show kindness and charity in your community, but don't limit your brand to kindness in the pubic eye. Brands that are perceived as compassionate and honest in every transaction generate positive word of mouth and an audience willing to stand up for the brand in times of trouble.
Sex Does Sell, But So Do Other Things
Everyone knows sex sells, and it's obvious some celebrities, like Miley Cyrus, build their entire personal brand on that truth.
If your product or idea has a sexy side, don't be afraid to capitalize on it in a tasteful way, but understand that other things sell as well.
In the fast-paced, unsure world today, consumers are also looking for stability, integrity, intelligence, and creativity. Understand what need your product or service meets, and build your brand around that.