Why Influencers Should Start Their Own Brands

Here’s the thing -- influencers are already extremely familiar with current processes to make revenue in the creator space. It goes something like this: brands reach out to influencers, there’s an agreed-upon compensation for their work (money, products, exposure, etc.), and then influencers will typically incorporate products from brands into their social media feed or promote them in some other social manner.

But there’s a way to cut out the negotiations altogether -- starting your own brand. While this is by no means simple, most successful influencers have already done the hard work without even realizing it.

A difficult and crucial part of becoming an “influencer” is maintaining a substantial following and level of engagement. If you’ve already done this, and are continuing to grow, you have an ideal platform for any new brand at your fingertips. Not to mention, your own creative platform costs nothing to use, a factor that brands have to spend thousands on.

You’ve marketed yourself, and therefore your brand, to thousands of people already. And they like it.

I spoke with Jaquory Lunsford, a Los Angeles-based creator who’s most easily recognized by his presence on Instagram, about the problem with current influencer-marketing norms. To Lunsford, the industry views influencers “as cars and not as houses,” in that a car depreciates in value the more they’re driven, whereas a house is an investment.

By cutting out the initial transaction between brand and creator, promoting products becomes less of a secondary statement and much more authentic. This, in turn, creates fluid content that caters more to yourself than someone else’s brand ever will.

 Lunsford for Brevard Watch Co.

Lunsford for Brevard Watch Co.

Lunsford recently launched his own brand called Brevard Watch Co. By working with the company during its early months, Lunsford fell in love with the brand’s product and its message. When he came across an opportunity to take over the company, he knew it wasn’t one to miss.

Lunsford sees it like this: starting a brand as an influencer is not only a way to invest in yourself, but also a way to establish longevity within the brand you’ve already created. The pressure of pleasing an outside party dissipates, and you gain the freedom of having your own creative control.

Starting your own brand doesn’t just feed your creative side, however -- there are also financial benefits.

Because the brand you’ve already established is a significant marketing tool in and of itself, there’s less of a need to outsource to other creatives. Lunsford says, “We can take the creatives ‘in house’ to put the business in a place where it can be successful and generate revenue.”

Lunsford is one of many creatives who’s started a brand to monetize on his passions. Miguel Gutierrez, a Northern California-based entrepreneur, is about to officially launch his new company, Casey, early next month. Casey is a line of protective cases for smart speakers, designed for the likes of Amazon’s Alexa. His goal: to transform the way smart speakers are perceived with cases that serve as conversation pieces that can add to the dynamic of a room with their presence.

When Gutierrez was inspired to create this brand, it quickly became obvious to him that he enjoyed “the ability to be in the ecommerce and retail space, while still being able to maintain a sense of creativity.” It’s important that he has the “ability to create content the way [he] want[s] people to see it” as opposed to just working as an influencer.

Having his own brand allows Gutierrez to “get more into the business side of things while being able to incorporate design and artwork.”

 Casey Sound speaker

Casey Sound speaker

Creating your own brand also comes with production design and input. Some would argue that this aspect of a brand isn’t so different from what influencers already do. Lunsford says, “To me, the only difference in crafting a great photo and a great product is working with photoshop or manufacturers.” Regarding his role in the design of the watches, he continues, “It’s the same thing I was already doing but through a different medium.”

Product design and content creation are, in many ways, similar. Designing your own product allows you to expand upon the creativity that was before limited to photos and social media content. With your own brand, your creativity has no boundaries.

Starting your own brand is a way to outgrow the limits of creativity from the impositions of answering to someone else, while consecutively achieving personal growth. If influencers could create more content without the the pressure of pleasing outside parties, the creator space would inherently develop more individualized and authentic substance.