Brand Adaptation: lessons from Nicolas Cage

In recent some blog posts, I have stressed the importance of staying consistent to your brand’s core message.  However, can your brand be successful if it does the opposite?  Can your brand be successful if it constantly changes and is often indistinguishable from its previous iteration?  For inspiration, let us turn to the often contested, but always brilliant, career of Nicolas Cage.

In his next role Nicolas Cage will portray a deaf librarian who travels back to the ice age to battle dinosaurs and space monkeys in order to save his son who has been kidnapped by pirates.

Nicolas Cage might be Hollywood’s most diverse and successful “brand”.  While the first point of this claim can hardly be contended, the second certainly is.  Whilst became the fifth youngest actor ever to win the Academy Award for Best Actor (in Leaving Las Vegas), the past decade in particular decade has seen him take on a wide variety of often controversial roles with fearless abandon – and has been met with equal servings of praise and criticism.

As a “brand” he stands apart from his contemporaries, who often stick to relatively safe and similar roles.  Who else but Cage would have stepped into the shoes of Harvey Keitel’s Bad Lieutenant – the crack smoking, heroin shooting and publically masturbating cop – following the portrayal the likeable treasure hunter in the family friendly National Treasure series?

Perceptually mapping the career of Nicolas Cage: via

According to Roger Ebert, he Cage commits himself “with every atom” to each character, no matter how improbable his character is.  Whether portraying suicidal alcoholic (Leaving Las Vegas), a heroic fire fighter (World Trade Center) or a muscle car driving badass who breaks out of hell to save his granddaughter who has been kidnapped by a satanic cult (Drive Angry 3D) Cage always stays in character.

However although his performances often puzzle critics and the public alike he remains one of Hollywood’s highest paid and most bankable actors, earning $40 million in 2009.  Clearly Cage is doing something right.  But what is the message?  How can a “brand” stretch and morph across many different areas and still be profitable and receive critical praise?

Well as with all marketing and branding questions there is no simple silver bullet.  The Nicolas Cage “brand” is highly idiosyncratic and is underpinned by an exceptional level of acting ability.  Few, if any, Hollywood actors have been able seamlessly move between diverse roles as Cage does.  Lesser talented actors simply don’t take the risk, or fail trying.

In closing, the simple message might be if your brand is going out on a limb – go right out on a limb – and commit to whatever path you have chosen with the dedication of Nicolas Cage.

// Alec Schumann

If you need some inspiration,  take a look at the dedication which Cage brings to his roles.  A language warning for the feint of heart…

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

2 Responses to Brand Adaptation: lessons from Nicolas Cage

  1. John Desloge says:

    “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” ~ Ingrid Bergman

  2. Alethia says:

    Good article. Its realy good. Many info help me.

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