What Lewis Capaldi teaches us about Personal Branding
Last night, after work I was sat eating dinner, catching up with Love Island (as any self-respecting millennial should be), when an advert for Lewis Capaldi’s new album: ‘Divinely uninspired to a hellish extent’ came on in one of the many ad breaks – and it got me thinking about Personal Branding.
We’re forever advising both employers and candidates about how important it is to have a clear, consistent brand message which is easily accessible and promotes either your career or your business; it’s so important that we’ve developed a suit of free workshops we offer to both clients and candidates to help build their own personal brand.
Whilst I’d ask serious questions about where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing for the last few months if you’ve somehow managed to avoid ‘Someone you loved’, I’ll forgive you for not having followed his accompanying social media and advertising campaign promoting the new album.
Since the success of his Instagram story attending the Brit Awards, he’s embarked on a campaign of short videos and funny tweets/posts that have ensured he’s never far from the spotlight. For my money, it’s one of the most targeted and impressive marketing campaigns a new album has seen and it’s notable not just how prolific it is, but moreover it’s content (Lewis regularly updates us on what tracksuits he’s purchased recently…). If you’re not a fan of the content you certainly can’t argue with the success of the album, it’s become the fastest selling album of the year and has outsold all others in the top 10 in both England and Ireland making it the bestselling debut album from a British artist in over eight years.
But here’s the thing – is it the best album for eight years? I certainly don’t think so. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I think whilst he has an incredible voice, his music is fairly average. It’s not just me either, The Guardian gave it 3/5 stars and NME gave it an even more damning 2 stars. So how has a relatively unremarkable album, become the most successful album of 2019? Even the man himself said about it: "I'm completely surprised about it," he declares."For lack of any better phrase, I don't have a f***ing clue what's going on."
I would argue that his success lies in his personal branding.
So what can Lewis Capaldi teach us about personal branding? First of all, it’s EVERYWHERE. You can’t move for Facebook posts or Retweets of clips of him in his questionable sunglasses chatting nonsense about something that’s happened to him. He’s never far from people’s attention with appearances all over social media, radio and TV interviews and adverts, awards and dinners, etc. No stone has been left unturned by Capaldi in his assault on the airwaves.
This is important – the platform you use to promote your personal and employer brand doesn’t have to be limited to ‘Professional’ environment. LinkedIn, we’re looking at you… Go where the audience is, which nowadays, is social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. All great platforms to showcase what makes you an excellent employee and employer and I guarantee are where we all spend the majority of our time - so utilise it; long gone are the taboos about social media being for what we got up to on Friday night and LinkedIn being for business only.
A regular series of updates is essential across a range of platforms is key. The updates don’t have to be extensive as we’ll shortly explore, but being in the market all the time is really important, so endeavour to keep on top of your feed.
The second important lesson from Capaldi’s success is the contact of his posts and how they’re not advertising his music, they’re advertising his personal brand. He’s built a brand on self-filmed videos in which he mocks himself, often in a pair of bizarre sunglasses or an unflattering tracksuit. This excerpt from a recent interview of his is a perfect example of his approach:
"I don't really pay much mind to what I put on social media, as you can probably f***ing tell," he jokes. "I just act like a tit and film it for a laugh."
"Maybe people like me because of a combination of the two, but I never set out to be anything in particular. I don't have a f***ing clue how to write a song that does well, or how to do anything on Instagram."
Capaldi is notable for how little he talks about his album, his world tour or his success. Whilst he’ll occasionally tell people to go and buy the album, it’s always tongue in cheek or as part of a joke – he’s never pushing it. Usually, he’s talking about something that’s happened to him, something people can relate to, engage with easily and have a laugh about and pass on to their friends. This is so important to bear in mind for us as well – content doesn’t need to be formal, overly professional or necessarily related to work and whilst I’m not advocating that you share your shenanigans from last Friday night, content that shows you as a human, someone people would want to work with, is so important to building a successful personal or employer brand.
Clients regularly say to us that above and beyond the technical ability they require from candidates, cultural fit is essential to a good hire and whilst your CV can be the best in the world, painting you in a brilliant light, it usually falls down for showcasing your personality. This is where a good personal brand can be essential: hiring managers will often look to find candidates on social media when they’ve received a CV and a funny, engaging personal brand can be the difference that makes the difference.
So the two main takeaways then, from Lewis Capaldi’s masterpiece in personal branding, are that it’s important to share regular updates across a variety of social media platforms, even if you wouldn’t at first associate them with recruitment/employment and that the content is less important than being visible. Showcase the things you think people will enjoy and relate to, even if they’re not headline news or strictly work related.