By  Bri Simpson

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Sparks on the topic of branding and relationship management. He is the regional director of urban promotions at epic records, and has over 14 years of experience in media, promotions, and entertainment marketing.

During our discussion we covered things like owning your personal brand, embracing making mistakes, as well as collaborating with other creatives to further your career.

Because he dropped so many gems, I felt it would be more beneficial to discuss them in chunks, rather than overload one post. So for the next few weeks I will be sharing information on personal brands and ways to implement them in creative endeavours.

How to Use Your Brand.

“I’m not doin’ anything that’s not (in) my lane.’”

–Cory Sparks

When I was studying marketing in undergrad, my professors would always stress completing a SWOT analysis to better understand a business’ profile. A SWOT analysis stands for:

  • Strengths

  • Weaknesses

  • foreseeable opportunities

  • foreseeable threats.

I’ve always felt that this same outlook could be beneficial for personal use as well. In order to have a successful brand, you have to be honest with yourself. Take inventory on the attributes and skills you have that allow for success, as well as the things that are not your strong suit.

We have all seen the loaded social media bios with what seems like an endless list of job titles. “Model. Producer. Photographer. Curator. Artist. Designer” and whatever other cool label that seems fitting. When in reality, there are a lot of people claiming to be busy, when they are actually busy going nowhere.

With brands, it’s all about finding your niche, a specific segment of a market. With so many people starting their own businesses and pursuing entrepreneurial lifestyles, defining your niche allows you to position yourself in the minds of others.

Someone who says they’re a general “photographer” is viewed entirely different that someone who makes the distinction and says they’re a “street photographer.” With this brand distinction, not only does it strengthen your brand, but it makes it easier to connect and collaborate with other people when you know exactly what they have to offer you in exchange for your knowledge.

“I’m never closed off to learning anything.”

-Cory Sparks

TED Talks. Panel discussions. Workshops. Networking events. Mentors and peer reviews.Podcasts. Sign up for business newsletters and articles. Follow thought leaders and trendsetters (not always celebrities, but the people who make things run like writers, magazine editors, producers, etc.)

These are all ways to learn about the field you work in. The society we live in is so fast pace, it can sometimes be overwhelming with how much access to information we have. However, if you focus in on ways to grow, it won’t feel that way.

Willingness to learn is a strength that should be applied to everyone’s brand, no matter what industry or field you work in. There is a quote that has been thrown around for while. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Apparently, there is another part to that quote that goes “But often times better than master of one.”

What this means is, you can have your niche, the thing that makes you stand out, but don’t limit yourself when it comes to information.

Brand awareness is all about learning, finding ways to keep your brand fresh, innovative, and genuine. After-all, your brand (as stated in the first post on this subject) is like a person. Just like people who change their hairstyles or adapt new outlooks and perspectives, brands grow. It is our job to direct this growth with clear vision and understanding.  


Bri Simpson is a Creative Writer for AB+L Radio. Check out her website for more of her work.