The Brand Storyteller: An Interview with Mars Dorian

This interview first appeared on Successilism on Oct 30, 2012

The first thing you’ll notice as you visit Mars Dorian’s website is the kick-ass display of graphic illustrations. I was lucky enough to have him here for an interview to talk about his success with helping people stand out online while doing the things he love.

First of all, you really have a unique website. What’s the story behind it?
I just started out with a personal website for my design and branding services, but then I thought, heck, I can do this in English and on a global level. That was the first time I thought about creating my own creative personal brand.A year later, I found out that my site wasn’t creative and unique enough, so I bought myself a graphic tablet to create digital illus that support my work and content. My site become really known for that visual aspect !


mars dorian


How would you describe yourself?
I consider myself to be a Brand Storyteller – I help small business stand out online and help differentiate themselves from the competition so they can attract a raving customer fan base. I do this both through my design and consulting services.

What was your childhood dream?
Gosh, I had sooo many. I always wanted to be a creative person in the widest sense – a writer, designer, comic book artist and even filmmaker. Now I’m pretty much combining all of these, except for the film making aspect.Maybe that’s still coming up 😉

Growing up, what does the word “success” meant to you?
Properly being rich and buying everything you can. Lol, that’s soooo superficial now, but when I was kid, influenced by mass media, that’s what I thought being rich was all about.

Was life easy for you back then?
No, it always was a crazy challenge, and it still is. Working on your own terms, especially when you’re a creative, is always more hardcore than a “normal” job because A) you have to work your face off and B) you constantly have to improve yourself in order to stand out online. But I ain’t complaining – it’s the destiny I chose for myself. I simply couldn’t stand the thought of having a boss breathing down on my neck, and telling me what to do 😉

Was there something you wished you knew 5 years ago? Things you wish you did differently?
Yeah, I wished I learned to code properly back then. This seems like a minor thing, but it’s huge :
The ability to understand code, at least HTML and CSS, is so vital in today’s age. You can have COMPLETE creative control over your sites and all the social media sites if you know how to code it yourself, allowing you to only rely on yourself and creating the image exactly the way YOU want to !

What’s your ultimate failure so far?
Not one single action – it’s more the problem of creative procrastination, hah. In the last two years, I waited TOO DAMN long – instead of just shipping my work. Whether it was a design, a digital product or a site relaunch, it took me forever to get it all done because I was always believing “tomorrow” was a better day for releasing it. Bullshit ! If your work is gooood enough, deliver it now, and then improve the next one. That’s how you improve the fastest way!

Was there a time you felt like you were just wasting your time pursuing something that seemed far-fetched to other people?
Yeah, I started a pure comic site (now defunct) which was all about big, long cartoons and jokes nobody cared about. It took me forever to create those cartoons, and the results were a few shares in social media and no income, hah. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experiment, and I learned that I’m much better at designing and creating illustrated, kick-ass stories instead of doing cartoon jokes.

Describe a typical day for a Mars Dorian.
I work all the way through the night, as a lot of my clients are US based. I usually go to bed at 6 am or 7 am (really!) and sleep till noon. Then I do exercises, fetch me some breakfast, learn code and read news before I jump into my work again – all supported by an upbeat J-pop soundtrack. I luv luv luv working for myself and cranking up the music, that’s the only thing I need to float on cloud 7.

How do you drive traffic to your site?
At this point, it’s mostly organic. Whenever I have new content coming out, people come check it out and spread it
with their network. Especially when it’s a controversial one like the JK Rowling piece on terrible branding. I don’t really do that much to drive traffic on my site anymore, because the word-of-mouth is quite strong.

When I started out, I was HEAVILY networking with fellow movers-and-shakers and doing lots of guest posts. If you create a killer website, crank out awesome content and network with influences, then you’re growing over time. And once you reach a certain level, you get interviewed and featured by certain blogs and outlets. Which is awesome for your reach and reputation !

Aside from running your awesome blog, what are you currently working on?
I’m currently involved in a couple of design projects (“helping people stand out visually”) and working on my stories.

There are some people who believe that life as an artist is equivalent to failure, though it have been proven many times that it’s not. What are your thoughts regarding the subject?
Only average people say that, I should add small minded, average people. Those are the peeps that fit in perfectly into society, playing by the rules, a mellow sheep herd. They disgust me, because they don’t create change or innovation, so I couldn’t care less about what they have to say.

What inspires you?
Everyone crazy who’s moving out of their comfort zone and uses their creativity to create a life on their terms.

People that inspires you?
In particular, guys like Takashi Murakami, Richard Branson and Cory Doctorow. They’re all creating their own careers and are willing to do the things that most people aren’t willing to do, especially standing up for your beliefs and defining your own rules. That’s always firing me up like a laser gun!

Has your books’s success changed your life? How?
Yeah, it has given me a significant reputation boost and definitely more clients. Creating your first product is a powerful way to increase your standing in the (online) world, and will always help you with your biz. DO IT YOURSELF.

I understand that you offer consulting services to people who wants to “STAND OUT” in their business or whatever it is they needed to stand out from. What’s the idea behind it?
It’s really about (personal) branding. The online world is soo crowded nowadays that you have to be WAAYYY different if you want to stand out nowadays. Only someone who clearly differentiates their biz from the rest and caters to a specific crowd will have success online, and that’s why I’m trying to communicate to people !

How do you define success now?
Being able to (creatively) do what I want to do whenever I want to do it.

Advice for people who want to become successful?
Have an insanely high standard, work everyday, promise what you deliver and constantly challenge yourself to do even better work. Always ask yourself – how can I make this more awesome ? And then DO it.

So, what’s next?
I’m currently concentrating even more on the storytelling aspect. In the (near) future, I’m going to create self-published novels and novellas and turn the successful ones into a trans-media experience – spreading the story on different levels such as apps, comics and maybe even animation 😉

I want to be the kick-ass mix between an indie-storyteller and a micro-brand-marketer.