In early December 2021, the Twittersphere was surprised when “Saturday Night Live” comedian and movie star Pete Davidson suddenly popped up on Calvin Klein’s Instagram account. In fact, he became the face of CK’s IG account, complete with a bio that read “Pete here” and a selfie of him in a CK-branded T-shirt with the caption, “I got Instagram.”

The pièce de resistance occurred later when Pete and best friend Machine Gun Kelly showed up on CK’s Instagram Live seated in a living room wearing only CK briefs. In all honesty, Calvin Klein isn’t known for staid or traditional efforts when it comes to its promotion. But the above is a great example of Pete Davidson’s brand in conjunction with Calvin Klein’s.

What is a Brand?

What is a brand?

Let’s flip from Pete to business for a sec. The American Marketing Association defines branding as “…a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

In English, a brand helps you differentiate from others in your industry. It lets you stand out from the competition. It’s done by creating distinctive content and visuals, or accomplished through a unique style.

Which takes us back to Pete Davidson.

Pete Davidson's brand

How Pete Davidson’s brand helped him stand out

Pete joined the cast of “SNL” at age 20; one of the younger ones to do so, in fact. Even more interesting is how he got into comedy in the first place. Born to a nurse and firefighter (the latter of whom lost his life while on duty during the 9/11 attacks), Pete was your average mediocre 16-year-old student living on Staten Island and hanging out with his buddies.

One night, while at the local bowling alley, Pete’s friends dared him to perform a comedy act right there. The rest, as they say, was history. Following a handful of stints on MTV, Pete auditioned for “SNL,” got the call from Lorne Michaels, and was launched into infamy.

That, in turn, launched his brand, based on the following factors.

How do you create and maintain a memorable brand? Pete Davidson. The SNL comedian and movie star's style provides many great “how-tos” when it comes differentiation and standing out from the crowd Click To Tweet

The “ladies’ man”

During the past decade, the “King of Staten Island” and “Suicide Squad” star’s dating record included a brief stint as Arianna Grande’s fiancé. Other women on his arm and in his life have included Kate Beckinsdale, Cazzie David, Phoebe Dynevor, and recently, Kim Kardashian.

The “whatever”

In his interview with SFGate, Pete indicated that he’s not interested in being liked. Nor does he care what people think about him. His goal is to do what he loves. And what he loves is being funny.

The “scumbro look”

His “whatever” converts into a singular style and appearance. Vanity Fair dubs it the “scumbro” or “a catchall for the R.E.I.-clad trustafarian co-ed meets Supreme. It’s pizza for breakfast and caviar pizza for dinner.”

Pete Davidson didn’t invent the “whatever.” He is also not the original ladies’ man nor did he create the scumbro look. But he did filter it all through his personal lens, creating a unique brand that differentiates him from others.

Pete Davidson's style and your brand

Pete Davidson’s style and your brand

You too can be like Pete. No, you don’t have to wear weird clothes and have romantic flings. But you can develop your own, distinctive brand to stand out in your industry. To do so, keep the following in mind:

  • Be yourself. This isn’t some new-age guru-speak. It’s about finding your niche, one that fits. Pete’s whatever attitude is his style, one that he’s comfortable with.
  • Adopt flexibility. There is a plethora of content about creating and supporting a brand. Some of it is good advice. But I doubt Pete referred to any of it when creating his style. So educate yourself. Consider what you learn. Then figure out what makes sense.
  • Embrace bravery. Pete didn’t grow up thinking he’d be a comedian. But he jumped on it when the chance presented itself. If an interesting opportunity comes in your direction, don’t shy away from it.
  • Develop your backstory. Use your history to find your brand’s voice. Pete’s history is a foundation for an interesting backstory. Son of a 9/11 firefighter. His launch into comedy. The “baby” of “SNL.” These are definitely differentiators. Use your own to stand out.
  • Get noticed. Social media and Web 4.0 (i.e., connection via mobile devices and computers) make it easy to tell everyone and anyone about your brand. So tell them. Tell them again. Then keep telling them.

So when it comes to your business, take chances and build your foundational quirkiness — or “value proposition” if you’re into business-speak. Doing so will help you effectively compete against others in your field. This mindset, combined with your abilities and talents, can help you build and maintain a unique brand that gets noticed.