Business 101,  Fashion,  Planning for Success

Branding 101: How to Create a Successful Enterprise Built on Branding

Branding is all the rage in the digital marketing space and in the resounding physical world.

There are many factors which can be attributed to the meteoric rise in demand for branding and brand loyalty–from both the consumer perspective and from the brands themselves.

One of the key reasons branding is crucial in today’s market is the gargantuan surplus of cheap, commodified goods and the resulting tumultuous price wars that have catapulted the masses towards the clannish desire to find brands they worship and refuse to live without.

Economies around the world have supplanted entire cultures with mass consumerism. And with the adoption of this bitter flavor of blind (and bland) consumerism, there’s an insatiable appetite for cultural innovation and differentiation from people across the globe.

Brands have become the new religion (unless you’re a marketer and have always known that the very purpose of marketing is to create a nouveau religious experience around your brand zealots).

On average, it takes, at minimum, 5-7 instances for a person to interact and engage with your brand before they will ever consider liking you and buying your product, much less become a lifelong enthusiast.

I built a relatively successful online small business brand 5 years ago that I summarily dissolved. I had changed and evolved so much as a person that I no longer even identified with my work or my audience.

I had a cult following, high engagement, exposure/authority and people lining up to buy my digital books and utilize my services.

I learned how to build a successful online business not by reading tons of books, though I did/still read copyblogger.com and bought only one book in particular by Robert Bly. This was all I ever needed to garner me an audience, the resulting cult following and oodles of praise from my fans.

This column is, in part, how I did it. Now you, too, can establish a successful brand people will love:

Tap into a HIGHLY emotional need and create your own emotional vacuum

Here are just a few of the best niches to tap into to foster an emotional need and create your own specialized emotional vacuum:

  • Sex
  • Sports
  • Relationships
  • Politics
  • Body Issues
  • Weight loss
  • Wellness & holistic medicine (there are SOOO many niches in this group)
  • Mental health
  • Marriage and family issues (parenting is a big one)
  • Entrepreneurship

It’s nearly impossible to not find a very enthusiastic and loyal community surrounding any one of these particular niches and their many subgroups/sub-genres.

In a consumer world soaked in apathy, disengagement and very short attention spans, more people now than ever before want to be sucked into every flesh and blood consumer experience they can sink their teeth into–from the exceptional to the mundane.

Escapism is the new drug. And your brand must be completely centered around offering your brand of consumers a unique form of escapism every time they interact and engage with your brand.

For example, my audience “escaped” with me every single day in our private Facebook group where we all shared our everyday emotional experiences.

It was a secret place my fans could come to 24/7/365 and act out a passionate and unique existence. My brand zealots became my emotional tribe–volatile at times but always fascinating and entertaining, to say the least.

Your emotional crutch is what will ultimately lock them in. An emotional experience keeps your tribe hanging on and screaming “MORE, MORE, MORE!”

Make people feel a certain way and they’ll become your emotional captives and adherents. This can easily be accomplished through anger, love, adoration, fear, hate, acceptance, belonging, etc.

You have to make your tribe FEEL something with every fiber of their being. Failure to do so will get you lost in the discard pile like every other forgotten, unsuccessful brand.

Establish some form of exclusivity

People never want access to what they can easily get.

When I was in school, the Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog & 2Pac gangsta genre was all the rage.

The movie “Friday” with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker was an iconic hit in the theaters and everyone was wearing Dickies even though they were all unemployed (much like today’s hipsters who wear outlandish beards and faux-soiled work boots).

It was hard for a vast majority of people to dress and act like a gangsta without appearing tryhard, strange and embarrassing. In the mid-90’s, “L.A. gangsta” suddenly became a very exclusive fringe group with a lot of authority and a truly unique identity.

From this unique culture arose many other subcultures and finally, the resulting culture of today’s widespread acceptance of the “thug life” and mainstream marijuana use (my cringy, dorky 60-year old boomer brother-in-law actually posts “thug life” memes on Facebook).

And the L.A. gangster niche of the 90’s gave rise to stars like your Jay-Zs and Kanye Wests of today.

Exclusivity tends to manifest in tomorrow’s widespread acceptance of today’s budding culture. And rebellion is probably one of the easiest ways to establish any form of exclusivity.

Think about it… When a person or group begins to rebel, how eager are the rest of the happy, little obedient sheep to follow? They’re not very eager at all, are they?

Rebellion creates an aura of exclusivity all on its own.

The exclusivity component of my brand was formed on rebellion. And rebellious people hate authority (but will somehow eagerly flock to it when their favorite brand embodies a form of rebellious escapism and a clean break from the usual and the mundane).

Use symbolism, unique language and labels along with your branding

I talk a lot about luxury fashion on Twitter and how easily I can spot a designer not by the label but by their symbols and colors.

  • Dolce & Gabbana uses flowers, fruits, red and velvet
  • CHANEL uses black & white, camellias, houndstooth, pearls and classic designs
  • Alexander McQueen uses very masculine, sharp tailoring and bold textures (leather) in their designs which have a very distinct medieval English aesthetic
  • Balmain uses a lot of black and metallics in very futuristic, contemporary designs

And so on…

Most people mistakenly believe slapping a logo on a website and having a quirky name is sufficient enough to call yourself a brand.

Branding has to be so much more than that. A successful brand must evoke a sense of unmistakable identity–an identity that people long to claim as their own.

“That look is sooo ME!”

“That motorcycle is sooo ME!”

“That hat is sooo ME!”

“That sports team is so ME!”

Hint: My branding featured a girl with a uniquely “hidden” and unpredictable side (with a corresponding color to match) that would only come out when provoked. It was unmistakeable and people knew she truly was ME. And they absolutely loved it.

Get very, very specific with your branding. Use labels, colors, puns and phrases to evoke meaning and belonging to your zealots. Use symbols and imagery that people KNOW instinctively and understand precisely what they represent.

Have a genuine, authentic voice

People simply will not tolerate being sold to any longer.

The idea of pitching and selling has become synonymous with “bait and switch” and “another gadget, another sucker.”

People are immune to popup ads and vanilla, fly-by-night companies they’ve never heard of behind some velvet curtain pushing products on them without any redeemable value other than the cheapness in the price.

Rule: People who only care about cheap prices are usually very disloyal (and adverse) to branding.

Everyone else, on the other hand, wants culture. They want a lifestyle. They want an identity.

And they want that culture, lifestyle and identity to be as genuine and authentic as possible.

They want transparency. They want a company that is built on serving the needs of their supporters in the most uniquely authentic of ways.

One of my branding schticks was to be intimately and brutally honest (warts and all) about myself.

There’s a saying, “People want honesty, but they hate it when you tell them the truth.” It’s very true that some people hated me for speaking my truth. But lots of people absolutely loved me for it.

Soon after, there were social media accounts and blogs popping up everywhere trying to imitate my level of “truth telling.” It was very flattering to discover my branding was being mimicked by others.

You have to stand out. And in a world of liars, misfits and imitators, people are dying for authenticity and realness.

Give your tribe some of your realness. And they will absolutely love you for it.

Have a unique story that is the basis upon why your company is in business

I’ve always been particularly fascinated by Sara Blakely, the entrepreneur/businesswoman who invented Spanx and went on to become a billionaire fashion mogul designing shapewear for women.

I watched a TV interview featuring Sara and her story about 10-15 years ago on a major TV network. She deeply highlighted her struggle on how she got the prototype for her very first product, shapewear panties, to market.

Her idea was rejected hundreds of times by dozens upon dozens of companies.

It took her nearly 5 years before her product would ever reach consumers.

Her personal brand story profoundly appeals to women because:

  1. Women don’t want to be fat and we’ve been using shapewear since ancient times. The fact that dozens upon dozens of companies (headed by men) didn’t want her product was a slap in the face to women as a market and as a worldwide community with mass purchasing power.
  2. Blakely invented Spanx during her stint as an already successful saleswoman who hated wearing pantyhose, but liked the way pantyhose kept her figure “together” underneath her work attire (we can all relate to this).
  3. It’s a unique tribute to entrepreneurship for women–Blakely was an all-American working girl turned powerhouse business magnate who has made billions while creating innovative products for women.

Yes, women love Spanx for the features and benefits of the product. But they love Sara Blakely’s story more. If it were a man who invented Spanx, there would have been no story behind how the product became a mere concept then the everyday woman’s reality. Only a woman like Sara Blakely could give a story like this to the world.

Branding is a unique science.

It’s a set of laws and principles that millions of people around the world spend their lives trying to master and put into practice to build successful businesses and make money.

I’ve learned firsthand as a businesswoman just how important great marketing is and how crucial it is to strategically align your entire brand from start to finish with your message, your customer’s lifestyle needs and the needs of the market.

Spotting trends, identifying with people and various cultures, and finding holes and opportunities in the market to fill a consumer need is the lifeline of any business.

Solid branding is built on the identity of consumers. Serve your tribe’s needs by thoroughly understanding exactly what they want and need and you will be a success.

I’ve been a successful businesswoman for over 5 years. If you want to completely revolutionize your wealth, success and finally have the financial freedom you deserve, book a life changing consultation with me today.

Be Well