Ones to Watch: Meet Self-Made Millennial Julia Lang
With the high speed evolution of internet and technology, online and social platforms are heavy drivers in shaping and influencing culture. As imagery and media are quickly diffused, delivered, and consumed, visual personas for brands and people are more important than ever before. Because the internet grants extensive, accessible information to the masses, visual presence has become a new standard of language.
Since this shift in existence, artists, brands, creatives, and all others who rely on consumers, are intentionally curating their visual personas to control the public’s perception. Brand identity is communicated and delivered through multiple mediums and readily available to anyone with wifi access. It is a new kind of marketing. This constant, consistent form of advertising floods messaging to the global population under the disguise of “reality.” Above all, the influence of internet presence has created an entire industry for millennials to infiltrate.
We sat down with one of these self-made millennials, Julia Lang, who specializes in engineering not only online visual personas, but also in-person experiences on behalf of brands. She provides creative direction through curating, communicating, and delivering succinct public facing identities. Check out Lang’s advice on how you can become your own self-made millennial by cultivating and crafting brand images.
Wow, you are an entrepreneur with an agency that provides creative strategy, branding direction, image consulting, and even event production! Can you tell us about how you carry out each of the services you offer?
Heyyyy, and “oh wow” that’s a very diverse question. The services that my agency offers are very broad, yet also go very much hand in hand. Our client base is a variation of brands (lifestyle, fashion, beauty, food, beverage etc.), talents (sports, arts, fashion etc.), and record labels, other agencies, and companies.
Each client has a different goal to fill. Usually the range of services that my agency offers, are either all applied within the process of working with a client or in some cases only some are needed.
How did you develop your skills into these multiple services you provide for brands and people?
I started around 10 years ago: “Takes 10 years for an overnight success…”
I continued working on my expertise by living in multiple different places. From London, to Berlin, to NYC. Learning by doing, over the past 10 years, really has been my best teacher. I usually just jump in cold water and try to become the best in whatever I work on. Talents and companies started to trust me over the years and bookings increased rapidly since I am based in NYC.
If someone is interested in pursuing a similar profession to yours, what talents do they need to be successful?
Relentless drive! You will get a lot of NO’s along the way and many doors might close but key is to continue the work and build your own buildings (metaphorically speaking), if necessary. You probably have to sacrifice your weekends and nights but you sure will be rewarded with success in the long run.
What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on this far? How were you involved and what did you accomplish?
I was involved in launching Kareem Biggs Burke’s NIKE Air Force One sneaker and in rebranding his image. I traveled the world with him in a period of 6 months and shared very unforgettable moments with him and the team.
What about your strategy and direction helps you set your clients apart from other personas and brands within “relevant culture”?
I can’t spill the all tea in here– come on. But it’s more about having a god given feeling about what’s the NEXT hot thing and knowing where to place your clients to achieve the goal set. It’s always case by case for each client. There isn’t ONE BLUE PRINT that works for all clients equally great.
How much time per day do you typically spend consuming pop culture– through digital and other platforms?
Wayyyyy too much. But it’s really necessary to stay on the pulse of each days news and trending topics. Even the hashtags that we use for our clients on their social media posts change on daily “trending hashtags.” It wouldn’t be enough, if my intern or assistant were the only ones that stay on top of news and solely report back to me. I personally have to commit to it and stay alert.
Why do you think people, famous or not, curate their digital presence, especially through digital media?
Because that’s branding itself. I can say A LOT about a brand or talent by simply looking at their Instagram feed for less than 5sec. Matter of fact, those first 5sec determine if I will stay on the feed and even if I will follow. If an Instagram feed is cohesive and purposeful for each need, you are winning. We achieve a strong digital branding for our clients, as well as boost the engagement up. In same case engagement went up 700% after we got hired. Just saying…
If someone is talented, but does not invest in creating a curated, public facing image, do you think they will be less successful in the entertainment industry?
It’s a shame to say, but it might be a disadvantage that it will cause them.
Talent is talent, that will always overpower anything in life, but why not use existing tools… and benefit majorly from it.
Why do you feel it is important for a person or brand to curate a strong identity?
It can make or break a brand. More eyes than ever are on social media, more than any billboard, tv or magazine add can score. If you use social media SMART and know all the ways to succeed with it, your brand should be in a great place.
You’ve discussed presenting mood boards to clients for Instagram directions and the importance of traveling with professional photographers. Since the amount of work that goes into creating an internet persona is not always transparent, do you think the general public accepts these profiles as reality?
I think so. In the end of the day, the client will forever have the last word. Meaning, they are still also the ones who will respond to dm’s and comments etc. So even with some professional curation behind the scene and a team, it’s still very much them.
Why do you think the general population compares their own photos/lives to professionally curated social media profiles?
Because those profiles set the bar. You can find inspiration and innovation in them. Why not watch, learn and implement on your own profile.
There are scientific studies that prove social and digital media negatively impact self-esteem and mental health. How do you think the social media landscape could change to lessen or prevent these effects on the population?
I don’t think that social media can prevent these effects. Also even before social media, the same effects were given from high fashion or beauty magazines with very unrealistic standards. I rather believe that each individual person, has to train themselves that comparison in general is the devil. Embrace who you are – flaws and all.
Who is your dream client or collaboration?
Talent wise, Pharrell Williams, J Cole, Rihanna.
Brand wise, NIKE, Coca Cola, Chanel.
What projects are you working on now that you’re excited to share?
It’s a lot going on. Continuing contracts of previews clients, currently also contracting new ones and speaking on a couple of panels this year. I am also very excited for Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June… Let’s go!
Images courtesy of Malcolm McNeil
Stay tuned to Milk for more ones to watch.