Rebranding and Expanding Done Right: Donald Glover is Childish Gambino

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.”

Donald Glover: Comedian

Donald Glover: Comedian

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…”

Donald Glover: Rapper

Donald Glover: Rapper

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?

Image credit to Rick Chung.

Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+.


  1. Cybernetic SAM

    This is really interesting, I knew he was a comedian and I thought he was very funny. I had no idea he was also a rapper. I am very interested to hear what it is like. As far as re-branding himself, he was very smart about it. He holds more opportunity to keep his career alive this way, as in either field you can’t stay in the starlight forever! I respect him a lot more now, knowing that he had to do with the success of 30 Rock all under the age of 30! Kind of makes me feel inspired yet defeated. I think there are a few stars out there right now that have also re-branded themselves (like Justin Timberlake). He did go from popular boy-band heartthrob to nothing, he is an amazing actor as he has proven in many realms (such as comedy and in drama) which isn’t easy for most actors! I gained a lot of respect for him as well.

    • Jenna

      Thanks! I highly recommend checking out his music. It is extremely creative and original. And I completely agree — by marketing himself to different aspects of the media he is more likely to stick around for the long haul. I felt the same way after realizing how much he has accomplished in so little time!

      Justin Timberlake is a great example of a re-branded celebrity! I think I actually like him more as an actor than as a musician! 🙂

      • Amanda

        I just watched the music video you linked to, and he does have real rapping skills– so it seems that he made a good choice to rap–but I didn’t enjoy the lyrics or the video much at all.

        • Jenna

          He is an extremely talented person. I’m sorry that you didn’t like the lyrics or video, though!

          • Amanda

            I’m not just not too big on rap music, and I thought the video was overly simple, and almost strange the way he was just dancing around, lol. But now that I think about it, it is a nice change to see that style compared to the mostly naked women dancing in most of the rap videos.

  2. amy

    Great blog Jenna! I loved your quote, “Don’t leave any talent untapped”. That is sooo true for businesses! You can’t just assume people think or do things one way, when in reality they may have a totally different interest or way of doing things.

    I too am surprised that he rapped, I just knew of him from Community. Thanks for the insight!

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Amy! Good point! If every business tapped into the hidden talents of their employees not only would they be getting more bang for their buck, but their employees would be happier to come to work!

      You should definitely check him out! 🙂

    • Amanda

      I really liked this post too! =) He has accomplished a lot in his lifetime–and his re-branding efforts seem to have paid off. He does has some nice rapping skills.

      And I agree with what you’re saying Amy–people have so many talents that go uptapped at times because they’re assigned only one particular job. By reaching out to your employees you can really discover more of their talents.

      • Jenna

        Thanks, Amanda! His re-branding efforts are certainly what made him able to accomplish so much in so little time!

        And you are totally right! 🙂

  3. JPorretto

    Great post Jenna! You’ve inspired me to re-brand myself as a professional guitarist. Seeing as how I’ll be broke while I do that, I’m going to keep my day job though =)

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Jeff! Go for it! If you dream, you can achieve! Haha, 😀

  4. Kyle

    Very interesting post Jenna. I’ve seen one of Donald Glover’s specials on Comedy Central and he was pretty funny. I haven’t heard any of his music though. I seem to recall hearing that he rapped, but I didn’t realize he took it seriously. I might have to check out his music sometime.

    I’m always amazed by people who successfully rebrand/expand their image (in a meaningful way, not in a washed-up-movie-star-doing-infomercials kind of way). I can only imagine the amount of talent necessary to not only make an entire crowd laugh at your jokes, but to flip the proverbial switch and captivate an audience with music and lyrics.

    • Jenna

      Thanks, Kyle! A lot of people thought that he wasn’t serious about rapping, but he’s definitely in it to win it. His music is just as creative as his comedy.

      It definitely takes a lot of talent to re-brand in a meaningful way. Unless of course you are on a TV show on the Disney Channel — in which case the transition from child-actor to musician is pretty much expected (neither of which done well, I might add). Donald Glover definitely has a lot of talent, and he knows how to use it!

  5. Mandy Kilinskis

    I love Donald Glover and everything he does. I am absolutely floored by how he was able to rebrand himself as a rapper, too. He’s a great inspiration for anyone that wants to rebrand themselves!

    [end] Donald Glover love.

    • Jenna

      I do, too! I can not even comprehend how multi-faceted his talents are. He’s a great inspiration for anyone who wants to do anything!

      [never-ending] Donald Glover love.

  6. Jill Tooley

    Ooooh, I like this chap! I’m a bit out of the loop because I didn’t realize how talented he was until now. The name “Donald Glover” kept popping up everywhere but I never knew exactly who he was…and now I do. So thank you!

    Rap isn’t my favorite music genre, but his alter ego’s skills are impressive. I may not run out and buy the CD, but I’m definitely going to follow his career more closely from now on. He’s going to be one of those celebrities that remains in the public eye for positive accomplishments! And good call on drawing inspiration from his rebranding – he’s proof that it IS possible to rebrand without compromising existing fans. Nice work, Jenna! 🙂

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    Very cool post, Jenna! 🙂

    I had no idea that Glover was a rapper or that he wrote for 30 Rock alongside Tina Fey. For someone in his twenties, this guy has an impressive list of accomplishments. **And here I am still waiting for my big break.**

    I remember seeing him in viral videos a few years back when he was still with the comedy troupe Derrick Comedy. I used to love that group’s YouTube videos, but I had no idea that Glover would be able to use his success on the web as a springboard into television (and beyond) so quickly. Well done on his part!

    He’s got some serious talent, that’s for sure! Judging by the quotes, he’s not exactly the most modest of young celebrities, but hey, it takes a big personality to establish a personal brand.

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2016 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.