Donald Glover is Childish Gambino. He has made a name for himself in all aspects of the entertainment industry by expanding and rebranding his brand – and he took some serious risks in doing so.
Donald Glover is a comedian. He earned a Writer’s Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Series in 2009 for his work on the popular series, 30 Rock, he has had more than one special on comedy central, and he plays Troy on NBC’s Community.
Childish Gambino is a rapper. He has released 6 albums and EPs since 2008, he has performed on tour across the nation, and is currently working on a new LP to be released in September.
“Ain’t it funny in a year I went from different to special/Yeah I got it together, yeah I took those chances.”
Here’s the kicker: Donald Glover is less than 30 years old. If he can do it, so can you! Whether you are offering a new service or product or doing a complete image overhaul, rebranding is a process that your consumers will either love or hate. And sometimes, that is just a risk you have to take.
The most important thing to remember is that whatever new concept you are offering has to be good. Donald Glover was able to expand into the music industry seamlessly because the tracks he released gave already popular artists a run for their money. He knows that he has talent in many realms, and he doesn’t want to let it go to waste.
“It makes me wonder what this rapping s**t’s a hobby for/Oh that’s right, because I’m gifted in another field, and another field, and another field.”
You should employ the same attitude within your company or office. If you learn some of the hidden skills of your employees, you may be able to expand in directions you never thought possible! Maybe your data entry folks have skills with Photoshop, or maybe your sales representatives have new ideas for social media. Don’t leave any talent untapped.
Glover wants his new and old audiences to know that he is just as serious about rapping as he is about comedy, which is why he created his alter-ego, Childish Gambino. In his track “The Last,” he raps, “People tell me I should spit under Donald Glover/But I try to keep my real name undercover/Cause if you hear my name, then you think it’s jokes/And I can’t go for that…”
It is important for Glover to let his comedy fans know that rapping won’t interfere with that aspect of his life, and it is also important for him to let members of the rap community know that he’s here to stay. If you are thinking of rebranding or expanding your company, make it clear to your target audiences what you are trying to accomplish. This way, you can attract a new following without alienating your existing customers.
Donald Glover also makes it easy for fans of his comedy to appreciate his music, and vice versa. His lyrics are creative, clever, and humorous – sometimes he shows off his rap talents on Community. No matter which aspect of the entertainment industry Glover delves into, his overall image remains the same. While expanding your own brand, be consistent.
What can you learn from Donald Glover? It is completely possible to rebrand yourself – if you do it right. And if a little confidence can go a long way, a lot of confidence will take you even further.
“Anything I put my mind to I accomplish it /From writing scripts with Tina Fey to laying down the hardest s**t/Who else is doing what I’m doing? No one.”
What do you think? Can you think of other artists or companies that have rebranded themselves successfully? Which ones failed?