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The Next Big Thing? - The Power of 'Brand Me' Feat. Danisnotonfire

Posted: 21/11/2012 10:31

"This ain't the last you've seen of me!" shrieked Kemal Shahin at the cameras, the ninth person to leave the Big Brother House in 2005. Apart from a couple of random cameos, that really was the last we saw of him. A quick Wikipedia search finds that Kemal did in fact release a single four years later - "Through With Love" - which... errr... struggled. He now goes by the name Zulekya. So - there you go.

Kemal is symptomatic of a large number of TV personalities who fall foul of the classic "15 minutes of fame" phenomenon. The fickle British public love to raise someone to the lofty heights of stardom, only to lose interest the very next day. You only need to think of the 99.9% of contestants from the likes of The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and The Apprentice who seemingly disappear from the face of the earth. In the battle of those with true talent (e.g. the Ella Hendersons) and those with media magnetism (e.g. the Rylan Clarks), it's not always clear who, in years to come, the public will want to see on their screens.

But there are reality TV show formats that have evolved to create success for the personalities (or characters) within them. A chat with Candy Jacobs, whose appearances on ITV's The Only Way Is Essex have helped her to make her mark performing on the stage, brings the point to life:

"People shouldn't underestimate the power of 'brand me'. Just look at Made In Chelsea's Jamie Laing. He's used his fame to open Candy Kittens, a popular sweet shop on the King's Road. And The Only Way Is Essex's Joey Essex (his real surname bizarrely) makes his money by quite literally using his face in various promotional activities. With almost two million Twitter followers, it's clearly working for him."

Big brands often use celebrities to raise awareness of their products or make their corporate face more personal to their audiences. But just as the right human face can be a powerful ingredient to the success of a company, a completely unknown person can these days use their personality to build a mega-brand around them, gathering legions of fans that can run into the millions.

Nowhere is this more evident than YouTube. South Korean pop artist, PSY's Gangnam Style has caused something of an internet earthquake, and has been viewed a record breaking 775 million times as of this week, making it the most liked YouTube video in history.

Equally compelling is the rise of the YouTube vloggers. This group of online personalities are usually seen sitting in their bedrooms, talking to their cameras about - well - pretty much anything really. Take Charlie McDonnell, whose channel is called charlieissocoollike. His videos have been viewed an astounding 265 million times, gaining him an impressive 1.7 million subscribers to his channel; Stephen Fry has even recorded a bespoke outro for his monthly videos.

Danisnotonfire is another example of a young British YouTuber whose videos have had tens of millions of views.

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There's something about 21 year old Dan Howell, who lives with fellow YouTuber 'AmazingPhil' in London, which is instantly likeable. So what is it that he thinks makes him and his videos so popular?

"I think it's the relate-ability," comments Dan. "People feel like they have a personal connection with another person who is just talking to them, which makes it so much more sincere than TV. Vloggers on YouTube are in the business of personality. People may prefer me over someone else due to my specific sense of humour and the style of my videos, but it's nice to think that it's because people are just interested in me as a person, and they enjoy listening to my stories and opinions".

What Howell is no doubt too humble to point out are some of the other more obvious common traits. The most successful young UK YouTubers are articulate, creative, dedicated (it can take up to two days to create one 4 minute video) and, for their devoted female followers (of the teenage variety), easy on the eye. You only need to look at the comment box of a video featuring Dan and twin-duo Jack & Finn Harries (from Jacksgap) to get a feel for their popularity.

And Dan's personal brand is about to get an almighty boost. Beyond launching a range of 'Llama hats' and danisnotonfire branded t-shirts, his talents have now been picked up by the elite of the entertainment world.

"My work on YouTube caught the attention of producers at Radio 1 last year, which led to me creating a two hour show for them on Christmas day. This eventually led to last week, when I was offered the job as the new DJ of the request show! My future looks very exciting, and I have YouTube and my amazing followers to thank for that".

I think Dan needs to re-brand. He's clearly on fire.

To read Dan's interview in full (including his views on dating fans and Delia Smith), visit http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/alex-perry/ on Friday 24-November.

'The Next Big Thing?' is a series of blogs that focuses on small businesses, start-up brands and talented people in the UK. Whether they are quirky, practical, pioneering or downright bizarre, this blog shines the spotlight on what could be the next big thing...

 

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