There’s so much beauty and mystery in building a brand that sticks. I want to share with you guys what’s working for me as I grow. Since I launched in February, I get questions weekly from really dope people asking how I got my brand to where it is. There are a lot of things I’ll share later in regards to marketing, but establishing an identity starts before that. So here’s my top list of things I’m learning:
Vulnerability and Authenticity
One of the things I’m learning is that I don’t need an image. When I was doing 30-40 concerts a year, impacting thousands of people with my music, I felt like I needed to have this persona; but my best moments were being authentic with a handful of teenagers sharing my life with them. My brand is personal to me. I’m learning the art of being grateful, hence the name, the Art of Homage. I’m a product of grace. I like to laugh, listen to good music at high decibels, and think on God. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to believe in the one who is. I’d rather be hated for who I really am than praised for who I’m not. I’m just me, people. It is what it is…whatever you’re putting your stamp on, be authentic to you.
When I started writing this piece, I sat down and thought to myself…if I had ten people in my living room right now, what could I tell them that could impact their dopeness. If your dream doesn’t involve making other people’s lives better, you need to dream bigger. I love to engage with people around ideas and concepts. There’s this deep desire to inspire people; to entertain, encourage and challenge myself and others to be all we can be in Christ Jesus. Most of my ideas rally around how I can create dope things that connect people and build community. All of my merch ideas involve some type of statement that rallies around how I think it will help trigger gratefulness and echo the true sentiment of what we believe.
Don’t be like me. I struggled with comparison for several years. I’m the guy who wants to see everyone around him win and it still snuck up on me. When I was actively running my indie label and doing concerts, I was constantly being compared to Reach Records and Lecrae. I just couldn’t get away from it. Every concert, someone would ask me if I knew him.
The first time I met Lecrae was in this small town we were performing in that night. We walked on stage as they were setting up to Lecrae reciting lines from my music and telling me how he likes it. This was a few weeks before Rebel dropped, which was his most groundbreaking project at the time. That album was wildly successful. Praise God. Around the same time, I felt like I had made one of the best albums of that period and it just wasn’t cutting through. Praise God. I trust in knowing that God’s plan is greater than mine even if I had good desires to glorify Him through my music. I learned that lesson through two or three years of struggle. It stole my joy and my ability to see how much God had done with my life in my mid 20s. I look back now and I’m in awe of what God did with my college years.
The best comparison we can make is with ourselves. Are you a better person than you were last year at this time? Last month? Last week? Yesterday? It’s really hard to be critical of others when you’re assessing your own shortcomings and trying to find ways to love people more and grow in God. The very things we find repulsive about other people should make us really think hard about the things in our own heart that are repulsive to God and others around us.
Creativity and Consistency
Vision and creativity is a gift from God. It has to be cultivated. I know a lot of people who are super talented but can’t muster up the ability to be consistent enough to execute a plan. Or even write out a plan. Great vision requires responsibility. It requires urgency and patience. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so I have to maximize my time. If I’m not taking steps everyday to move the needle of my brand and create a consistent clear message and product that people gain something from, then I’m wasting my time. If building a house were easy, everyone would do it. It’s gritty; its hands on; its everyday; even when you don’t see the fruit immediately. (But find a day to rest! lol)
Be authentically you. Don’t be afraid to fail. If someone else is doing something you want to do and you’re good at it, there’s a pretty good chance, you can do it too. Help as many people as you can and figure out how to do that in the best way possible. Chase hard after God and lean in on His grace cause you’ll never be perfect. You were born into a world where sin is the gravity of our hearts; we’re all bent toward it. The commandments reveal to us how none of us measure up; but thank God for Jesus in whom God sees us as righteous. Think on this rigorously. Chase after Him obsessively and love others while you do it…