Krysta Masciale: Why Your Brand Will Reinvent The Industry

May 23, 2018

It's time for Hollywood to reinvent itself. Brand strategist and futurist Krysta Masciale believes that your personal brand will help make that happen. The way people think of you is your personal brand. So how can you shape how you will be known?

When facing challenges as a brand, you can replicate, reinvent or refine what is already being done. Krysta addresses how to avoid being a replica and take action to affect our industry.


- Thank you, Sam. Good afternoon, everyone. There is one thing that I know for certain, and it's that everyone has a brand, whether they want one or not. In fact, those of you who are in this room are part of a collective brand of post production experts. You are editors, you are color correctors, you're known for your sound editing and your music and you are the last people to touch a project, which puts you in a really cool position that's often underutilized. I think you have a privilege to actually change the way we work, and I actually think it's because of you that we're going to reinvent this industry. So, the reason I know this is that a brand is the promise of an experience, an affirmation of a vision that we have for this world, and when a person, or a product, or a service does the same thing enough times, we begin to put language around that experience, and start to categorize it so that the next time that we need to use it, we can access it really quickly. So, take NAB for example. 


There are so many companies out there with their individual brands, and when you walk into a specific booth of maybe your favorite brand, you start making assumptions just based on your experience. So when you go out there, I want you to start thinking when you leave, how did you feel? How did that experience make you feel and what are you prompted to actually say to your friends as a result of that experience? That's a brand. What people say about their experience with us is actually how we're showing up, and it's actually what our real brand is, not whatever we think it is. So, if how people experience us then becomes what people say about us, then I think we have an incredible opportunity to get really serious about how we want to be known. It's no one else's responsibility to craft your brand other than yourself. Everyone else is just working with what we give them. Your job is to be as clear as possible about the problems that you're solving and why you're solving them. I'm hoping today that if I can teach you how a brand is built, you can understand why your brand is the key to reinventing this industry. Are you guys ready?

- [Man] Yeah.

- Great. First, let's address the current climate. It is no secret that our culture is shifting, the change is palpable no matter where you sit in the industry. The pressures to compete are relentless. Most of you are probably nervous just thinking about it. These climates often force individuals and organizations to make one of two decisions. They either replicate or they reinvent. Again, what I'm hoping to do today is help reconnect you with the core of who you actually are, kind of the heart and soul of your brand so that being a replica is no longer an option. To do this, I want to take a look at three different steps that I've identified, three dominant traits or phases of a brand evolution. The continuum explores common choices that again, individuals and brands continue to make in volatile climates that they think make them competitive. The first is to replicate, the second is to refine, and the third is to reinvent. Let's start with one end of the spectrum and the most common in my line of work is replicate. 


The one thing that you need to know about being a replica is that no one buys the knock off without wishing they could afford the real thing. No one. So if all you're doing is slapping a less expensive price tag on somebody else's experience, someone that you're copying, you're just a poor man's version of that individual. Does that resonate with you at all? Or you probably know someone in your competitive landscape that's doing that to you, and it's super infuriating. The only thing about being a replica that is even more infuriating than being a poor man's version is that it's exhausting. No matter how you slice it, being a replica is an exhausting short term game because the expectations aren't actually set by you, they're set by the person you're copying, and then all the people who can't afford the person you're copying. You're never gonna be ahead of the curve. So what may now seem like, when you're choosing this phase, an act of self-preservation in order to compete, is actually the beginning of a legacy in inauthentic, unoriginal clutter that you're presenting to your industry. Unfortunately, the reason this is the most common choice between individuals and organizations is because they're just so stressed out that they're not going to be able to compete or keep up, that the idea of doing whatever's working for somebody else is so much more enticing than spending the time to come up with something original. 


The second item, opposite end of the spectrum, is to reinvent. These organizations and people see change as a a launchpad to get ahead of the curve, define the curve, remake, or revive a system that no longer works, or at the very least, they're coming up with a way to reinvent themselves that doesn't compromise the integrity of who they are. Their probability for longterm success is incredible, because they have learned how to make themselves relevant at every single shift that an industry takes. What's required to compete at this level is a commitment to a vision, a knowledge of why you do what you do, and a clarity in what you're uniquely positioned to solve for a culture that actually needs it. Individuals and brands that function seemingly all the time in this area, don't actually do this consistently. They spend a lot of time figuring out who they are, not backtracking, but revisiting the core of what they do and why they do it, and it's because of this that we think it's easy for them, and it's actually not. They've developed a discipline of refining. This neutral middle area is the perfect incubator for change. It's in this refining stage that the message becomes clear, the brand's culture is unified, and a focus is established that mobilizes people towards a shared vision. 


The critical question asked in the refining phase is geared around bridging the gap between who you are and who you need to become in order to be seen as a leader in reinventing your industry. This place, this little middle area, needs to become a part of your routine. It's not a place we only visit once, in fact, those people who make it look easy because they're constantly ahead of the curve and redefining everything that we do, they stay in this pretty consistently in order to stay on top of their game. So if you have a disciplined posture toward refining, I promise you, you will consistently be ahead of the curve, and it's because of this area that no one talks about, because it's not fun, that I want to spend the rest of our time here today so that you can get a leg up towards all the other people that aren't here right now. What cult brands do really well is evolve methodically. So, there's a pace associated with bridging the gap between how you're known and how you want to be known. This gap between who you are and where you want to be is arguably the most difficult, because it's so counterintuitive to visionaries. Pace is not something that visionaries and innovators and technicians and people like you who are creative, it's not something we like to hear. And it's because of this counter intuition that we find ourselves skipping over this phase in order to move towards hopefully defining our industry.  


I promise that if you follow the next six steps, you guys will be able to move your way through, methodically, not super slowly, so don't worry, you won't be there forever, the refining phase, in order to position yourself to reinvent the industry. So the first step, and you guys can take notes if you want, is to discover what matters most to you. 


No matter how many times you dip your toe into this refining stage, it's always helpful to reconnect with the heart of your brand, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to identify your core values. This is the why behind everything that you do. The values are a nudge that you get whenever you're working with a client or maybe a company that says, "You're definitely going to have to compromise your values "in order to work with these people. "Is it worth it?" Your values will help you establish the answer to that question, and they will help you make decisions that don't require that you compromise who you really are and what matters most to you and your organization in order to show up and compete in this marketplace. So write down your values, make your own definitions for them, and then use them to root the perception of your brand so that everyone else can start using the common language that you've now established. This will inform a message about who you are and who you want to be known as, no matter what the project is or who you're working for, and it also helps you make educated decisions to keep you out of situations that are just a really bad fit. 


The second thing is just to be honest about what you're capable of. So often, we ignore the things that we're inherently good at because we think that everyone else can do it, and that's not true. No one can do it the way you do it, and no one's motivated by the same reasons that you are, so even if someone's doing it in the industry, it doesn't mean that they're providing the same experience that then translates to a brand that someone would really connect with. So, stick to the basic tenants of not watering down what you're capable of by adding all kinds of other stuff that you're kind of lukewarm at, and just own who you are, move forward, and call it a day. 


The third is just to focus your vision. Where do you ultimately want to go? Who do you ultimately want to be? Narrowing your focus actually expands your influence. Again, I know it seems counterintuitive, but that's kind of the name of the game in this refine phase. It's so much easier to gain influence and momentum when you're funneling all of your resources and targeting your message in a super specific direction. 


The fourth is just to identify how you want to be known. Are you engaging in activities that will make it easier for people to say, "Oh, what they say and what they do "is actually in line. "I'm not having to figure it out by myself, "I'm not having to read between the lines. "They're disciplined, they're consistent in the experience "that I've had with them. "I can bank on, every single time." So how people perceive you is based on the interaction that they have with you, and it's critical to make the connection between what you say and what you do. 


The fifth is just to use consistent language to bring clarity to your brand experience. We often call this a brand promise in my line of work. It's how you communicate the value of your brand and why it's important. It helps to build common language again around the experience that you provide and sets you apart from somebody else in the industry and causes someone to understand why they're gonna choose you over someone that maybe is a competitor of yours. Being really good at what you do is not a differentiator, you guys. I don't know who coined that as the metric for being competitive, but that's just the bare minimum to compete. You have got to show people that why you do what you do is the thing that's going to connect you with them for a longterm engagement. It'll be unmatched, the loyalty is incredible, but you've got to identify that before you just become one of a million people that do the same thing that you do. 


The final step is just to target your message to a specific audience. By the time you've hit this step, you know what motivates you, you know what you're good at, you know where you're aiming to go and how you want to communicate the promise that you provide, so identifying the target audience is actually the cool part because it just helps you create a personality and tone around the brand experience so that you can better connect with the people that you hope to serve. What you'll begin to notice is that you're not alone. People will begin gravitating towards you who want to be a part of redefining how we work, and the warning label that I would say to anyone who's starting to engage in this kind of work is that change will happen, but at least you'll be driving it and not letting it happen to you. You'll evolve, hard decisions will have to be made in order to make room for the bandwidth required to compete against the status quo and reinvent it. If you're doing this work as an employee, you may discover that you need to find a better place to work because it no longer is a good fit for what you know you're capable of. 


And I would say make that decision quickly so that the rest of us can hire you and take advantage of the ideas that you have. If you are a leader of an organization, and you're realizing, "Man, I have other colleagues and executives, "or even employees on my team "who cannot get behind this vision as we move forward "in reinventing this organization," you're gonna have to have hard conversations before you move forward or else it's gonna get really, really messy. And if you're in a situation where all of this seems great, and you don't really feel like the organization that you're working for is bad, or you love your clients, but you have tons of solutions that you've never vocalized because you're too afraid or you think it's not your position to say so, now is the time to speak up. We need you. 


This is the only way we're gonna know that something's wrong and it's the only way we're going to be able to move forward and find solutions that help us all work together better. So those of you in this room and who may be listening later online, you guys have an incredible opportunity to drive change because you're at the intersection of art and technology. I believe branding is so much more than design and fancy logos and fancy words. I believe it's a promise of an experience and the affirmation of a vision that we have for this world, and I believe when done well, brands have the power to advance culture, add value to our lives, and connect us to one another. I also believe that the first step is here. 


 So I hope we can create a future where being a replica is no longer rewarded, where originality is the thing that gets the awards and the trophies. I hope that you guys are the ones that speak up because we need you, and we're for you, and we honestly, we really can't wait to see what you come up with. Thank you so much for having me, you guys.