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An American Legend: the Personal Branding of Arnold Schwarzenegger


Arnold Schwarzenegger is a classic multi-hyphenate, known for a wide variety of successful ventures. From starting off as a bodybuilder in his youth, to screen acting in the 1980s, to diving into politics and being elected for two consecutive terms as the governor of California in 2003 and 2007. Even now, at the age of 75, he is set to return to the big screen with upcoming action film Breakout. Inarguably, Schwarzenegger’s career has been long and varied – so how does personal branding work with so many moving parts? Because we at Octonano always love to examine every angle of strategy, we’ve taken a deep dive into how Arnold Schwarzenegger has built his personal brand.


Go Big or Go Home

As a bodybuilder, one of Schwarzenegger’s first and foremost values has always been discipline – it must be, seeing as he won the Mr. Universe contest not one but four times – and it’s clear where this practice has influenced the rest of his work. Once pumping iron stopped challenging him to his desired degree, he expanded his goals. In his Netflix documentary Arnold that came out last month, Schwarzenegger says, “I want to do the things that everyone says are impossible,” and this vision has driven his entire career. In fact, last July, for his birthday he published his self-awarely titles “Seven Unreasonable Birthday Goals,” which proves that his ambition has never once waned.


Reject Conformity

While casting directors were initially skeptical of Schwarzenegger’s body type post-bodybuilding career, his unmistakable muscles became a crucial element in securing his role in The Terminator. Then, once cast, Schwarzenegger continued to leave his mark by bringing his unique presence and flair to his characters: case in point, his iconic The Terminator line, “I’ll be back,” which Schwarzenegger himself recalls became “one of the most famous lines in movie history, all because of my crazy accent” (this line, spoken in his native Austrian accent, has also resulted in Schwarzegenner’s epithet “The Terminator”). These examples highlight an element of distinctiveness in Schwarzenegger’s personal brand, which balances those of blind discipline and repetition, creating a commendable blend of unique talent and hard work.


Laugh at Yourself

After building such a substantial image in the 1980s through the early aughts, part of Schwarzenegger’s contemporary personal brand involves gently satirizing his larger-than-life persona and its lasting impact on American culture. For instance, Schwarzenegger has continued to develop the fitness-focused aspect of his personal brand through partnerships with Gold’s Gym, even creating original YouTube content parodying gym culture. While this may seem counterintuitive, the result is that Schwarzenegger has remained relevant and approchable to a younger generation.


We at Octonano represent company and personal brands from many different industries, so it is always interesting to study such a well-curated variety of fitness, entertainment, and politics within a singular figure. While developing strategies to position personal brands within multiple sectors and target audiences, Schwarzenegger’s example of commitment to one’s sense of self is truly unique.


Are you looking to start developing your personal brand? Get in touch with our team of experts today!



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