WRITTEN BY OMAR SHAHID |
Wednesday, December 12, 2018 ;
It’s likely that the majority of people reading this blog post have heard the name Jordan Peterson, but won’t be familiar with his work. It’s also likely that some of you may dislike him. Whatever the case, he has developed an unassailably powerful and potent brand that anyone looking to create a personal brand can learn from.
But first, who is Dr Jordan Peterson?
He’s a Canadian-based Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto who gained worldwide notoriety after he slammed Canada’s government for Bill C-16.
But beyond this, it’s his dozens of online lectures, a barrage of interviews and two massively popular books, Maps of Meaning and 12 Rules For Life, that have catapulted him to international stardom.
For the past year, he’s been touring the world, packing out auditoriums with over 1000-2000 people wherever he goes (and he isn’t a popstar, he’s an academic talking about life’s deepest, philosophical issues).
It’s all rather strange.
But is it?
He has almost single-handedly revived the conversation in the mainstream around the relevance of Religion. Not only has this invigorated religious believers but also given a new outlook to those who had no reason to turn to Religion before.
He somehow unites people from various beliefs and backgrounds around a common cause. I and many other committed Muslims find what he says to be compelling, true and inspiring, but so do agnostics, atheists, Christians, people from working-class backgrounds as well as those who sit at the upper echelons of society. He has given people on the brink of suicide, a purpose to live.
It’s really quite the spectacle.
Any interview he does is devoured by hundreds of thousands within days. He even has a Patreon page which has almost 9000 of his fans giving monthly donations of at least $5. You can do the math, that’s a substantial amount he’s making.
If there is anyone who can show us how to build a loyal, die-hard fanbase, as well as monetise it as we move in 2019, it’s Dr Peterson.
But what’s unusual is that money and fame don’t seem to be his primary drivers, it’s something much deeper – and that’s what the world has picked up on.
But how has he created such a strong personal brand? Here are 9 reasons how:
1. An Authority
Dr Peterson is a thought leader, an authority and a public intellectual.
As a qualified psychologist and a former lecturer at Harvard University, he has spent the past 30 years reading and researching the things he now talks about publicly. He also isn’t shy to qualify his credentials, which he often does when challenged.
His talks, interviews and books all demonstrate that he knows what he is talking about. Sure, there is room for disagreement with what he says, but his breadth and depth of knowledge speaks for itself. He is able to speak strongly and convincingly, making him not just an authority but a remarkable orator.
He says what he means and means what he says.
What’s spellbinding about his public talks, however, is that they are always different. He doesn’t have a pre-prepared speech, nor notes that he refers from, but what you see is literally a live unfolding of his thoughts on a particular topic for over an hour.
“In order to think, we have to speak,” he says. And that’s exactly what he’s doing: while he speaks to audiences, he is refining his thoughts and arguments.
2. Well Groomed
Whether we want to accept it or not, one of the key factors to public success is image. Very rarely can a celebrity get away with not taking care of their looks, unless they have a very likeable personality or being nonchalant feeds into their brand, like Ed Sheeran for example.
Dr. Peterson takes his suit game seriously, and many of his fans admire this. He is sure to look sharp wherever he goes now , and realises that appearance matters. He doesn’t try too hard, neither does he try to stand out, but his polished look makes him even more alluring.
Dr Peterson is ultimately a serious person, and his suits certainly don’t let him down.
3. The Content Matrix
For those in marketing, there is something known as the content matrix. Your audience should be exposed to four types of content: Inspiring, Educational, Entertaining and Convincing.
Dr Peterson takes his audience through the entire funnel. His talks are both inspiring, they make people want to become better and lead more meaningful lives.
People are also thoroughly educated by his wealth of knowledge on the topics he discusses.
But he also has the charm and ability to make people laugh at times. And finally, having taken his audience on a journey, he’s in a position to convince them, often to buy tickets to his events or buy his books.
4. A Clear Brand
One of the mistakes a lot of Influencers make is that they have a messy brand. Nobody really knows what they do or what they stand for. In fact, they don’t even know what they are trying to do, aside from gain followers, which is a terrible goal.
I mean, how many followers is enough?
Jordan Peterson’s brand is clear. He wants to help people get their lives in order, inculcate meaning and responsibility into the lives of those who are seeking it, and he does this through telling biblical stories, which are infused with life’s deepest, most symbolic truths, as well as drawing upon his 30 + years as a psychologist.
Not only does he know what he’s trying to do, but he doesn’t want anyone to forget either.
Furthermore, he naturally and organically cites case studies of those he has helped into his interviews to reinforce the power of his message and what he’s achieving, increasing his buy-in power from his audience. In this talk with comedian Dave Rubin, he mentions that at every talk he gives, he gets people telling him how they haven’t committed suicide after being given hope by his talks, how he has fixed relationships between family members, got people who had no purpose to pursue a higher purpose, helped people increase their salaries and fixed their broken relationships with their partners.
By reinforcing his successes, not only does he motivate himself to continue, but keeps his audience invested in him.
One of the most important things for brands to possess these days is purpose, or even a higher purpose. People want the brands they buy from to be principled, to take stands.
In fact, according to Brand Z, which has analysed the world’s leading brands, has showed that companies that have a purpose earn three times the amount than companies that aren’t purpose-led.
His first public principled stance was against Bill C-16 as mentioned earlier. But that isn’t the only thing he stands strongly for or against. He has strong stands on radical feminism, masculinity, authoritarianism, gender equality and more.
People therefore know where he stands and can admire him for that.
One of the ways you can consolidate your message and brand is to show that you actually care about the things you represent.
Dr Peterson will show various emotions on stage and in front of camera. He is completely honest with his feelings and isn’t shy to show them.
When he relays stories of people he has helped overcome immense difficulty, you’ll often see him tear up. And when he staunchly disagrees with something he becomes impassioned, heated and even slightly aggressive.
7. Content is King
Many of you would have heard of this term before.
And, in many ways it’s true. We live in a time now where you can fast become irrelevant, your message can get drowned out, twisted and misconstrued.
What better way to overcome this then take pretty much every single reputable interview that comes your way, to further promote your message and clarify what you stand for.
Nobody has any excuse not to know what Dr Peterson stands for, or what he believes – and he’s made sure of that by flooding the internet with content.
This allows him to plug his work, and further generate income.
There’s also an interesting cycle that occurs.
Because he is constantly up for doing interviews, his fans have more content to watch, they then become more invested in his message and it ultimately strengthens his brand.
Furthermore, because his interviews gain millions of views, he becomes even more sought after as Youtube and media channels recognise they can generate some money (through ads) and potentially thousands of new subscribers, making him even more in demand.
8. Brutal Honesty and Humility
One of the things that Dr Peterson emphasises, not just in his talks but also in his latest book is to tell the truth, despite the consequences. And while it may be uncomfortable at first, it is necessary for you to grow.
One of the most striking clips of Dr Peterson is him, during an interview, changing his mind about an issue within 10 seconds, having realised that he’s wrong.
9. A Strong Team
They say you can only go so far by yourself. And it’s true.
Any successful leader always has a team that supports him or her.
And Jordan Peterson is no different. Whether it’s his literary agent, his supportive wife, his tour manager or Dave Rubin, who has accompanied and hosted Dr Peterson’s shows throughout his world tour, they have all contributed significantly to his success.
What It All Boils Down To
The truth is, if someone tried to replicate Dr Peterson’s model, they probably couldn’t – it would be contrived.
Strong leaders and brands don’t just appear overnight, it takes years of discipline, commitment and inner resilience.
But these 9 points show what it takes to build a strong, enduring and strategic brand.
Dr Peterson is intelligent, focused, hardworking and comes with years of experience which has shaped him into the person he is today.
But, by recognising what makes his brand strong, we can begin to formulate our own, unique strong brands too.