Approaching the ripe old age of 75, William Shatner (of all people) is as busy as any celebrity half his age. Why? Single-handedly, Tila Tequila has become a huge celebrity (with 902,111 buddies and over 30 million visitors) on MySpace, recently appearing on the cover of Stuff Magazine. How? The Muppets and the Simpsons endure because of the same thing. Some politicians have it, some don’t. This thing has the ability to launch and propel notoriety, independent of media or even sophisticated marketing efforts. And this thing is absolutely free.
It’s called charisma, and in a recent entrepreneur forum hosted by our firm, we set out to comprehend why some things take off amongst the masses while some don’t. What we came away with were observational insights that any left- or right-brainer can utilize to achieve that which no amount of media spending can achieve: a consistently committed audience.
(It is worth noting that before and after writing this article, this writer has never read the book, “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier, which apparently uses the term “charismatic brand” which we use here also. Total coincidence, really. This writer also cannot confirm if any of the attendees to our forum read the book. Based solely on reviews this writer checked online, there are genuinely new ideas on the charismatic brand presented here. But that isn’t guaranteed.)
What is Charisma?
What American Heritage Dictionary on Answers.com says of charisma:
A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm; personal magnetism or charm.
What we say:
The perception that a person, place, or thing has a mystique that an overexposed, monotonously zapped, natural human curiosity thirsts to explore for no other reason than that mystique possesses enough of a notable difference to commit at least some time to exploring.
Charisma is believed to be innate within the individual or thing, but it can be manufactured by any good marketer and more importantly, utilized repeatedly without fail as long as the manufacturer of this charisma understands that they must either a) expect their audience’s enthusiasm in its charisma to fade or b) keep refreshing the cause of the charisma.
As American Heritage defines it, charisma is rare; supposedly, not everyone has it. Then again, consider how anyone, from Daryl Littlejohn to nearly every actor can assume different identities in order to create and control their “brand’s” charisma. The internet has certainly made everyone a schizophrenic.
Furthermore, the timeframe during which an individual drawn to the charismatic brand is limited, not the charisma of the brand. Thus, a fan today may not be a fan tomorrow. But the charismatic brand will always have fans as long as it maintains its charisma.
What does it say of charisma if only famous brands have it and all famous brands do is entertain? Fame is not achieved entirely by being a source of entertainment. That which a famous brand does, recall, is different from the rest of society, becoming a distraction from the everyday, and thus, rendering the famous brand the center of attention. It engages in the activity as a form of expressing its charisma, but isn’t always for the benefit of amusing the masses. Thus celebrity as a profession, in the words of my good friend and great aspiring actress Alethea, is the most selfish profession in the world.