Johnny Depp: Three for three

  • Johnny Depp, the brand:  Puts his talent to serving the character he portrays — authentically.
  • Johnny Depp, the player:  Builds upon his track record — skillfully.
  • Johnny Depp, the startup:  Tries something new with every role [this time, it’s singing] — fearlessly. 

And this morning, he’s nominated for an Academy Award.

Is this just an excuse to make my first post of the new year about Hollywood doings and the very fine movie, Sweeney Todd:  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street?  No.

But I realized as I sat through the movie [eyes shut during the authentic blood spurts] that efforts like Mr Depp’s — as well as the vision of Timothy Burton and the prowess of his entire cast — inject our lives with the artistic version of what every one of us should do and find in our own work.  Not how to get rid of annoying colleagues under the guise of a haircut and a shave or deal with competitors by turning them into pot pies.  I mean how Burton & Co look at their work and how they deliver.

The whole brand thing has been overdone when it comes to personal branding, but there is something to knowing who you are and immersing it in the task at hand.  The personality part — for people and companies — comes to how you choose to build a relationship with your stakeholders. 

In Mr Depp’s case, his stakeholders are diverse.  The camera, the scriptwriter, the composer, the director, the cast, the audience.  When you go for the truth, it’s much easier to perform — and the more you find new ways to convey the truth, the more powerful the message for all the stakeholders.

Many experts would say that players and startups have a long way to go, as groups, with striking upon a true brand for themselves.  Let’s say those experts are correct.  Seems to me the one thing that bears trying is learning from each other.

For players, it would be shedding the years of tired, cliche marketing to get back to the original idea behind the company.  For startups, it’s realizing that the patina of experience and being part of the system doesn’t have to mean old or old school.

For both, it is recognizing that brands begin with the desire to create something that works for the organization and for the community — and they end when things start getting phony, lazy, complacent or too expensive.

The next time you go to the movies and feel that the exorbitant ticket price was completely justified, think about the factors that made it so.  Those very same elements have parallels in every other kind of business, not just "the pictures."  A desire to dedicate oneself to the story and its characters.  An interest in community, not just quarterly stats and whipping the competition.  The capacity to innovate and act like a startup every day.

A leader that has the talent and focus of Johnny Depp?  Couldn’t hurt.

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