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What Darth Vader Taught You About Personal Branding


By Ivan Brezak Brkan, December 24, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out in theatres, and I’m sure that you couldn’t be more excited. But did you know that besides showing us how to use the dark side and force choke, Darth Vader has shown us how to grown our personal brand. Here are just some of the ways the Darth Lord has helped you think about personal branding, even if you didn’t know it at first!

Be Yourself Instead of a Clone

As the entrepreneur and best-selling author Chris Brogan noted to Navid Moazzez, you need to “be yourself instead of the clone”. The clones Chris is referring to are of course the highly-trained soldiers in the Grand Army of the Republic, who were bred from the genetic template of the bounty hunter Jango Fett.

Since we don’t want any more Clone Wars (the cartoon is ok, though), we don’t want you to be a clone of some other person who has already established their personal brand. You can’t be Gary Waynechuk so don’t try copying his wine podcast in order to become a social media expert and investor. While you might see the path of the Light side in Master Gary’s approach, you can’t copy exactly what he did. Luke didn’t copy Yoda, so you shouldn’t copy Gary.

When thinking of your personal branding, you need to differentiate in order to make yourself stand out. If you saw the Clone Wars cartoon, I’m sure you remembered how each of the clones tried to make themselves stand out by even a bit – color, haircut etc. And they’re clones, literally the same people – biologically. Their character, however, was different, and they understood that they need to each be themselves, even as parts of a literal clone army. Got that, padawan? Good, because being yourself is the starting point. You also have to be…

Be Unique, Even If You’re Part of The Empire

We’ve mentioned clones, but even Stormtroopers mostly looked the same. It made sense since the idea of the Empire wasn’t for anyone to stand out. On the other hand, not everyone can be the right hand of the Emperor like Darth Vader was. He was different, even by Sith standards. While he was dark like other Darths, his characteristic armor made him stand out.

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And that’s why when you’re trying to build your personal brand, you can’t just be “yourself” like the clones always tried to be. As I said, it’s a starting point, but you need to stand out. Oh, and how Siths and Jedis stood out. Each had special markings, and each had some characteristics and traits that made them unique. Among them was the fact that each Jedi had their own, individualised lightsaber… And no lightsaber was as unique as Kylo Ren’s:

Have a Personal Lightsaber… or Trademark

Here’s one thing that Kylo Ren, the – spoilers –, did right! if you remember watching the trailer for The Force Awakens, it’s definitely one of the most memorable and interesting things to show up on screen, although its introduction in the movie isn’t as climactic as one Wookie would expect.
I’m talking, of course, about the red blade lightsaber with the crossguard, made with a single cracked Kyber crystal that was barely enough to contain its power. The crossguards, were from a technical standpoint, lateral vents this very specific lightsaber needed. They were also useful as a defensive part of the lightsaber, ensuring that Ren wouldn’t lose his hand – just like Luke did some thirty years ago in his first fight with Darth Vader.

From a personal branding perspective, Ren’s red lightsaber is the best way that this Knight of Ren distinguishes himself from all other lightsaber warrior, Jedi or Sith or whatever the Knights of Ren are (we hope to find that out soon). When you see that crossguard shine in the night, you know it’s Ren, and you better run, far far away.

For you and your blog, it just means that you need a similar trademark. It can be something you that gives you a specific look (Think Seth Godin’s bald head and glasses) or a particular design of your blog. While others are using Medium, a platform that lets you write very readable blog posts, having your blog on WordPress with a custom theme ensures that everyone is 100% sure what website they are visiting. Just look at Neil Patel’s evergreen Quicksprout or the blog images of the Unbounce blog. They’re specific to those websites, so you’ll recognize them as you would Ren’s lightsaber gunning for your neck.

On the other hand, if it’s a double bladed lightsaber, say hello to Darth Maul.

Don’t Fear Transparency, Tell Your Son

Like Vader told Luke that he was his father, you have to own up to the things you’re truly doing both in your career – and sometimes even in your personal life because things have a habit of turning up, even if you’re the dark lord of the Sith. Thanks to Instagram, Facebook and the rest of the social web, those Wookies you want following your newsletter will definitely still notice if you’re ignoring the Emperor’s tweets while planning to overthrow him.

So if you have something to say: Say it. While a lot of companies and organisations, including the Empire, feared to communicate directly with their audience – your personal brand will be better off. Jedi are not the only ones that value the truth and transparency. Your target market will also value that you trust them enough (like Vader did Luke in the end) to tell them what’s going on… Not like Kenobi… No, Ben, you didn’t “kinda” tell Luke Vader was his dad, ok?

Which brings us to our next point…

Bleed A Little For Your Cause – Like Kenobi, Vader…

Why did Luke trust Kenobi and why did we like Vader in the end, after all the horrible things he’s done in the past?. Even if you didn’t see the prequels (I wonder why), watching Vader do away with countless Stormtroopers as well as Rebels taught you he wasn’t a nice guy. However, he got his redemption by sacrificing himself to save his son, bleeding a lot (into his suit) and dying in the end.

I’m not saying that you need to die literally to establish a personal brand, but you can’t me mister tough-Sith all the time. Seeing the scars like we did on Luke Skywalker’s old face or C3PO’s red arm in The Force Awakens shows the passage of time and how these characters have been through a lot – and have gained wisdom from those experience.

The same is true for a blog such as that of lifestyle hacker Tim Ferris. While Tim has made a career of “hacking” his lifestyle, he’s also the first one to write about how he has failed in the past, what he has learnt and how he is using that experience in the future. Tim is no “ubermensch”. He says that he does “experiments” to see what happens. Remember that job you had a few years back? Maybe that dreadful experience from the year before that? The ugly history shows your experience! It’s your scar!

Get Your Own Death Star (Platform)

Vader didn’t you go out in a Tie Fighter flying from planet to planet (blog to blog) scaring people individually (guest blogging). He had an HQ, a base – a platform from which all his power came from.

The number one mistake that most of us make when we try to create a personal brand is that we go out, open a few social media profiles, start writing for others and try to put as much effort in various platforms that can give us reach our target market. And that’s great. Vader had to go to Hoth to find the Rebels. However, he needed a power base.

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Like the Death Star, your personal website is your power base. It’s the place your target audience will come back from time to time to read about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. The Rebels feared the Death Star, not a new battle on Hoth, just as your audience will love your blog, not just a guest post you did once on that other blog that isn’t even yours. Get a Death Star, even if it’s a Lego set – or a Star Wars theme built on the WordPress platform!

Commit To Ruling The Galaxy (Or a Similar Goal)

You’ll never create a personal brand if you don’t commit to it, much like Vader was committed to ruling the galaxy with Luke as father and son. Luke wasn’t as committed so you’ve seen how that can turn out. You fall down an air shaft and lose and arm. So commit!

But seriously. You’ll probably say that you’re going to try to create a personal brand in 2016. That’s great, but don’t stop at that. Sit down and think about what you can achieve in a year, just like Vader had to plan out the construction of the second Death Star. It’s by no means an easy task. While a plan is there to be changed (like the Rebels changed the Empire’s plans with destroying the Death Star), you have to have a plan in the first place. Your plan? To dominate the market with a personal brand just like Vader did the galaxy with his force choke

Speaking of: I just hope Anakin doesn’t read thi… *ARHGHDHK* #forcechoked.

Credit for image: Jonathan Rey, Wikia


Author:

Ivan Brezak Brkan

The founder of the "Techcrunch of Southeastern Europe" - Netokracija - and ex-Techcrunch writer with years of experience writing about startups, technology and the domain industry!

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