Building Your Brand With (Distance From) Nicolas Cage

Nicolas CageBetween 1996 and 2011, Nicolas Cage earned $150 million – from acting alone. For those who have seen this clip, that little fact is somewhat remarkable.

Today that money is gone. Plus, he owes the IRS $13 million. I guess four yachts, a jet, a private island, two castles, a palace, and 11 other homes, amongst other assets, can do that to you.

Cage’s career has this baffling diametric relationship with both wild success and… total failure. If you’re building your brand (histrionic in nature or otherwise), then take these cautionary business-branding tips from Mr. Cage at your own risk…

#1 Ignore the experts. You know everything.

Cage’s financial troubles are nothing new. In 2009, his (now ex-) business manager, Samuel Levin, warned him about out-of-control spending. According to a courtroom filing, “Levin was rebuked for trying to restrain the outflow of cash.”

Clearly, Nicolas Cage isn’t just a phenomenal actor, but also a finance wizard. Likewise, you should never give any heed to the experts you’ve hired to guide your business decisions. Like Cage, you are a fount of knowledge.

#2 Cryptically re-invent the wheel.

While we’re on the subject of trailblazing, do you know about Nicolas Cage’s acting method?

It’s called “Nouveau Shamanic.” He made it up. (Which he can do because he’s Nicolas Cage.)

What exactly “Nouveau Shamanic” is, no one can be sure, though this essay is a valiant attempt at unpacking it. Cage understands that obfuscation is essential when it comes to building your brand. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sign up for a course in something like Nouveau Shamanism?

Be sure that your customers/fans are always partly in the dark about what exactly it is that you do.

#3 Avoid extremes.

Every year, Hollywood bestows its worst actors with the “Razzie Award for Worst Actor” at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Sylvester Stallone has received an astonishing 13 nominations, Adam Sandler eight, and Kevin Costner seven.

Tied for sixth place with four nominations is Arnold Schwarzenegger and – you guessed it – our boy, Nicolas Cage. Sadly, Cage has never actually won an award. (Which shouldn’t reflect too poorly on him if you consider the fact that neither Johnny Depp nor Leonardo diCaprio has ever collected an Oscar.)

The lesson? Avoid extremes. Be good, but not great. Be bad, but not terrible. Toe the line of honorific mediocrity.

#4 Be charitable.

Okay, I’m ragging on Mr. Cage in good fun, but in fairness, he has his finer qualities, too. Last fall, Nicolas Cage became the first artist to support the International Labor Organization’s Artworks program.

The real lesson here? Leverage your brand for good causes. If you have assets, influence, or connections, you’ll never regret using those to help others in need.

Favorite Nic Cage memes, blogs, anecdotes? I know the answer to that is “yes,” so share them in the comments below.

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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