The year was 1716 and it was the height of the Golden Age of Piracy. A young English deckhand by the name of Edward Tatch had just moved to the Caribbean. He was hoping to join the ranks of the region’s most feared privateers. Tatch, who had previously made a name for himself as a privateer in the Queen Anne’s war, was eager for the opportunity to command his own ship. While sailing under the command of Benjamin Hornigold, young Tatch was given the opportunity to prove his worth. Shortly thereafter, Tatch was given command of a small ship and began committing his own acts of piracy.
Now chances are you’ve never heard the name Edward Tatch before. You’ve more than likely never colored a picture of Edward Tatch in grade school, and most certainly never dressed up as him for Halloween. There is a reason for that. It is because Edward Tatch was, simply put, just a man trying to make a name for himself among a whole sea of other pirates. Thousands of men who were all coming to the Caribbean. All of them in search of the same fame and riches. All of them, desperate and willing to do whatever it took to succeed. So how did young Edward go on to become the most well-known and feared pirate in human history? Simple, he stopped being a man, and became a brand?
Jeff Bezozs (founder of Amazon) famously said “Your brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room.” Edward Tatch understood this concept quite clearly, and set about the mission to transcend himself from a man to a brand. To do this, he needed to create a new identity for himself. In order achieve this new identity, he would need 3 things: a ship, an identity, and a logo
His first action was to get himself a ship, a ship that would be a representation of that new brand. He and his crew captured a French merchant ship and formally renamed it the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Queen Anne was the former Queen of Spain at the time who had failed to revolt against England. By naming his ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge, it sent a message to all non-Spanish vessel’s that they were prime for the taking. This name directly played into the ethos that he was creating for himself.
In addition to changing the ships name, Tatch outfitted the ship with 40 cannons. Most ships at the time tended to have between 16 and 20 cannons on them. So when Tatch armed the Queen Anne to the teeth, it became one of the most heavily fortified ships in the entire region. Entire navy’s feared the and the reputation alone was enough to cause sea farers to fear the Queen Anne.
As a Pirate Investor, you too, are going to need a ship. A ship will be the physical representation of your Brand. It will have to have the following characteristics:
- It must resonate with your target audience.
- It’s costs and upkeep must match your pricing structure.
- A Emotion Inducing Name
Let’s say that you’re a plumber and you’re interested working with millionaire home builders. You’re going to have to physical presence that will identify with millionaires. This means you are going to need a clean professional working work truck, Logo bearing uniforms for all your staff, and a professional looking office space that millionaire home builders can come to discuss their builds.
So no matter your industry or business model, your ship, aka your physical presence is going to have to be factored into your costs. The cost of up keeping these physical possessions are going to have to be factored into your pricing structure as well. So it will be up to you to find the balance in your business’s budget.
The Ship will have to have a proper name. A title that causes an emotional reaction with your target audience. In Blackbeard’s case, he wanted to inspire fear. But for you, you might want to pick a name that inspires luxury, or ease of use. Naming your Business should be a fun and creative process. There really is no way to go wrong here. So long as the name itself is induces some type of emotional reaction.
The Brand Identity
Edward Tatch was a typical name for an (Englishmen). Tatch needed something more fearsome. He needed a name that would instantly drive fear into his enemies. This new identity would be crucial because being a pirate was all about stealing plunder as peacefully as possible. Surrender was always preferable to actual combat, as that would run the risk of loss of lives, damage to the goods on board the enemy ship, and worst of all, an accidental sinking of an enemy vessel.
So Edward Tatch created the persona of Black Beard. In additional to his name change, Blackbeard created a whole new physical appearance for himself. He grew out a long black beard, he would wear and over sized black hat, and would wear a vest with dozens of pistols strapped to it. He even took long fuses and rolled them into his beard. He wouldn’t then lite the fuses and they would emit a terrifying smoke from his beard. He would howl like a madman when he closed in on his prey. Often times this was enough to cause his enemies to surrender their cargo without a fight.
And the more and more Blackbeard fought the more and more his reputation grew. Soon he was a known all throughout the Caribbean. He had eventually got to the point where enemies were so terrified of his name, that they surrendered willingly without even putting up a fight.
This is the same type of strategy you want for your own identity. The goal of a brand identity is to have future clients already know who you are, even before they meet you for the first time. Overtime you will build brand equity in your own name, and that equity will bring value to you in many ways. So in order to establish brand equity, you will need to consider these three things.
- Social Shareable Presence
- Create a Digital Portfolio/ Resume Website
As a professional in any field it is important to establish a name for yourself. All too often I see resumes and LinkedIn profiles where people are advertising themselves as representatives of their current employers. They advertise who they are working for, rather what they can do. No matter your field it’s imperative that you start re-writing your resume or LinkedIn profile to show case your individual brand. This can be as simple as changing your title from “Employed by XYZ Company” to “Digital Marketing Strategist Currently working for XYZ Company” Another great idea would be to get a professional head shot added to your resume or LinkedIn page. Depending on your industry, you can go for a traditional formal head shot, or a unique photo geared towards a more trendy clientele.
Another consideration is to becoming active on social media. Depending on your clientele this could be a combination of a website, a Facebook Page, Instagram Page, or all of the above. Either way you’re going to want to have a digital shareable link to help you increase your network. It is through this shareable social presence that you can introduce potential customers to your unique brand. It will be important to put great effort into this page because chances are your customers are going to see this page long before they get to meet you in person.
In addition to a social media, you are going to need an actual website. This can be a website to promote your actual brick and mortar store, or an online portfolio, demonstrating your past successes. Personally I’d recommend Wix.com. Wix is easy to use and offers a free version of their award-winning version of their platform. Should you choose to upgrade to a professional website, you will receive your own custom URL and you will gain accesses to several website building tools. Wix also offers in house customer management tools such as automated email marketing tools, SEO tools, and free ad vouchers for use with Google Adwords.
Another solid benefit of Wix is that you technically don’t own the site, you are simply renting it from Wix. This means you aren’t responsible for security updates and will have built in tech support should anything happen to your website. This is different from competitors like WordPress where you’ll be responsible for your own security and data management of your website.
To top off the entire identity, Blackbeard also created his own logo. This logo was unique and represented Blackbeard’s empire effectively. This logo could easily been seen by a telescope, hand drawn onto formal surrender documents, or even tattooed or branded on loyalists. It was through this logo, this small bit of artwork, that Blackbeard was able to do his most damage. Imagine you’re an English sailor aboard a ship and you’re tasked with keeping watch. Suddenly there on the horizon, you see a large ship. It’s quite far away, but it’s flying a unique flag. You instantly recognize it as the dreaded logo of Blackbeard the Pirate. You already know exactly what to expect from the logo as everyone in the entire Caribbean knows the brand. You know k the viciousness of Blackbeard’s crew, the impossible to defend against 40 cannon Queen Anne’s Revenge and you also know kindness Blackbeard shows to those who surrender without a fight.
So as you can see there is power in a logo. And while we’ve advanced far behind flags the timeless principle still applies. You need to have some type of small symbol to represent you and your own personal brand. In today’s world there’s more than one way to create a shareable logo. You can go the traditional route and use physical business cards. or the more tech savvy route and reliable on a social media page that is shareable across the internet. Personally I’d recommend a physical business card with links to all your business related social media. For help with designs, I’d recommend using Fiverr. A business card will quickly add feeling of legitimacy towards your growing empire, and people will treat you more like an actual entity rather than merely a person.
By following these 3 simple steps, a random English sailor was able to ascend and become the most legendary pirate of all time. Interestingly enough, Blackbeard’s official reign of terror only lasted about 1 year, before he and his crew were killed by Royal British Navy. But to this day, Blackbeard’s legend lives on in movies , media, video games. But we most not forgot Blackbeard’s personal branding lessons.
- Pick the right ship
- Create a professional Persona
- Create a Shareable logo
By following these steps, you too can become the master of your own destiny.