All Articles Tagged "branding"
Overnight, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has become the breakout star of 2014 awards show season. Snagging SAG and Critics Choice Awards for her film debut in 12 Years a Slave, the rising thespian has also earned fawning coverage for her razor sharp red carpet style as well as her heartfelt acceptance speeches. Add her natural, berry-black beauty and multilingual dexterity, and the Kenyan Yale grad has all it takes to be an inspiring new face—and force—for young women the world over.
We asked branding expert Julian Kiganda how she would leverage Nyong’o’s status for enduring maximum impact if the actress were her client. What she told us works for any brand on the rise, and we took notes for you.
- Think Bigger Than Your Service or Product.
“She’s doing an incredible job branding herself as an extremely talented, but grounded, fashion-forward actress,” Kiganda says of Nyong’o. She adds, the emerging starlet should also be thinking beyond acting and fashion. “What kind of company would she want to create that would hold all of the things (products/services/philanthropic efforts) that she’s passionate about outside of acting? How can she develop multiple streams of income so she’s not always waiting on the next major role to pay the bills?”
- Don’t Believe the Hype.
If you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring to set out on your own, you’ve likely heard a lot about “building buzz,” but in the “’Hot’ today. ‘Who?’ tomorrow” world we live in, Kiganda says it’s more important to know what to do with buzz. “Regardless of how good you are,” she points out, “there comes a time when the next big thing replaces you.” Her solution? “You want to strike while the iron is hot and build your brand while the doors are readily open and folks [are] anxious to usher you in.” She cites Magic Johnson as a good model to emulate. “[He’s] done an incredible job parlaying his celebrity into a sustainable brand on which to build a successful business.”
-Embrace the Big Issues.
Leverage your business to raise awareness of challenges and issues impacting your community. Speaking specifically of Nyong’o, Kiganda says, “Lupita has a major opportunity to use her celebrity to make an impact on the issues in Kenya (or elsewhere on the continent) that matter most to her, whether that be education, women’s rights, economic empowerment, etc.” Kiganda gives an example of one way she could authentically extend her brand. “Because she loves bold, bright colors and patterns, I would encourage her to promote African designers who don’t get the same play that the Pradas and Ralph Laurens do, but have some really incredible collections.”
Earlier we talked about ways to rebrand yourself for a new career. But what about branding your business?
When it comes to running a business the name of the game is branding because without it there would be no identity. Every company — both big and small — has a brand whether they put effort into it or not. But you need to make sure that brand is working for you and not against you. Now you are probably thinking you’ll need to spend thousands of dollars on an expert to help you. But if you want to save here are some branding tips to make your business successful.
One of the most powerful concepts in marketing is owning a word in the customer’s mind. It shouldn’t be a complicated word, but rather something simple that already carries a great deal of weight along with it.
For example, when you think of the word “safety,” in regards to driving what do you think of? Volvo owned that word forever.
When you think of “overnight,” in regards to delivery what pops up? FedEx usually, despite some recent holiday fails.
This is what owning a word in the customer’s mind can do for you. To achieve this result you’ll need to narrow your focus to a single word or concept. The most effective words are not only simple but also results-oriented. So it is always better to focus on one word or benefit rather than three or four. Once you have a solid footing with one benefit, customers are likely to associate your product or service with a lot of other benefits. A “safer” car implies better design, quality, and engineering.
In making your choice, remember that your word can be related to positive outcomes (cavity prevention), service-related (home delivery), audience-related (younger people), or sales-related (preferred brand).
When you launch a new business, it has to be promoted. Otherwise, who’s going to know about it? Getting people interested is the goal and there’s no such thing overexposure. You won’t need a marketing savant to get people talking about your product. Just use these 15 straightforward promotional tactics to make your entrance to the marketplace.
Recently we saw how Bethenny Frankel tried to get the best of Omarosa Manigault on her talk show. After losing a $10,000 bet to Manigault when some rude comments on The View were brought to light, they engaged in a quick word exchange where Omarosa had to defend her brand.
Now if you haven’t seen this clip yet you have to be living under a social media rock, but in short Omarosa in her own brassy way explained why the black tax is in full effect in Hollywood. “It’s different for you and I,” she explained on the show. “I am an African American woman. You get to walk around and be mediocre and you still get rewarded with things. We have to be exceptional to get anything in this business.” I’m sure many black women, even outside of Hollywood would agree with this sentiment, but Bethenny’s predominantly white audience found the comments to be in bad taste.
Whether right or wrong, there may be something we can learn from Omarosa regarding building a brand. On the show she made the comment, “I think it’s important to understand you don’t stay on for a decade in reality TV without being smart and creating a brand…” and I could not agree more.
While I was attending Howard University’s MBA program back in 2010, the university decided to bring Omarosa in as an adjunct faculty member. Many students felt that this could be damaging to Howard’s brand, since Omarosa was known for her shady ways and being a self-proclaimed b***h, according to her book The B***h Switch.
I — and many students — decided to make our trepidation know to the faculty, but the university’s administration had its own motives and decided to move forward with the class. In the end I decided that I wanted to see for myself what Omarosa was all about and enrolled in her Global, Corporate and Personal Brand Management course.
With Omarosa as my “professor,” I got a chance to get to know her professionally and personally, and took a look behind the scenes at her brand management. And she was nothing like what I saw on television. It was almost like Omarosa the professor wouldn’t even sit with someone like Omarosa from The Apprentice. She was kind, articulate, patient, and, surprisingly, appeared to be very genuine. She opened up her Rolodex and had some pretty impressive people (no celebrities though) as guest speakers in our weekly classes.
Over the years it has been a challenge seeing how she is portrayed on television and how it directly conflicts with the person I came to enjoy throughout our four-month weekly night class. When I think of that person and the one on television, I’m not sure which is the real Omarosa. But what I do know is each character is deliberate.
Maybe the nice sweet side she shared as a professor is not what would have made for good ratings on The Apprentice and the backstabbing heffa we loved to hate on the reality show would not have made the positive impression on Howard’s faculty that secured her teaching position and gained the respect of her students. Now I have never read her book, and since it has some of the lowest reviews on Amazon I’m sure a lot of you haven’t either. But she definitely knows when to turn it on and off and it has been to the benefit of her career.
Omarosa is right: There are so many reality TV stars that have a moment in the spotlight and suddenly fall into the entertainment abyss, never to be heard from again. But to be a reality star that has actually managed to stay relevant for over 10 years displays smarts and effective brand management. Our brand should not be a mistake or something we stumble upon, whether at work, school, in our writing, on TV or in our relationships. We should be aware of what we want our brand to be and each day work to accentuate those impressions.
Although Omarosa’s brand class wasn’t the most educational. But my lesson wasn’t in the coursework. Rather, it was seeing how she effectively controlled her brand.
We’ve seen recently the impact that good marketing can have on a company or a brand. Jay Z has a top album on his hands with Magna Carta Holy Grail in large part because of an effective marketing campaign that coupled technology with his famous name and a good (many would say) album. You could make the same argument for “Yeezus.” Kanye prepped us all with videos beamed onto the side of buildings around the world. People start talking. The anticipation builds.
But you don’t have to be a celeb on the level of a Jay or Ye to make marketing work for you. Every brand — even brand “you” — can benefit from an effective marketing campaign.
By now, you’ve already heard that Jay Z’s groundbreaking deal with Samsung (in which the company purchased one million copies of “Magna Carta Holy Grail” in advance of its release) is poised to revolutionize the music industry – or to at least start the conversation. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has already adopted “new rules” for calculating album sales. And although Billboard declined to include the Samsung downloads in its sales figures, the magazine’s creative editorial director, Bill Werde, admits that they will re-visit the issue: “In the coming weeks, we’ll talk through highly nuanced questions about our album charts…These discussions may well lead to some changes to our charting rules — or they may not.”
While the Samsung deal is undeniably making waves within the industry, some wondered if it would help or hurt MCHG’s consumer sales. Billboard silenced any doubts this week, however, reporting a whopping 527,000 in first week album sales. This means that even without the benefit of the Samsung downloads, and in spite of enumerable leaks as a result of those downloads, MCHG has easily topped the Billboard 200. MCHG is Jay-Z’s first solo number one album in the U.K., and it also set a Spotify record when songs from the album were streamed over 14 million times last week.
To quote the man himself: “Men lie, women lie/numbers don’t.” And in an era where albums sales have suffered a major decline, MCHG is a bona fide smash.
How did Hov do it? Well, many are crediting his innovative marketing techniques. The mini-films released in conjunction with the album’s promotion were inspirational, intimate, and indelible. There was also a Twitter session last week, an unprecedented social media move for Hov, which allowed fans to engage him directly. And his six-hour performance of “Picasso Baby” at Pace Gallery in New York certainly had tongues wagging.
Music fans can tell you why The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” or even Jay Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” are such monumental albums, but no one remembers their marketing campaigns. But nowadays, those campaigns contribute to both the exposure and the bottom line sales of an album. USA Today even proposes the marketing of MCHG is actually better than the album.
Billboard, which refuses to count the Samsung downloads in its calculation, estimates “Magna Carta Holy Grail” will…land at the top of their charts.” That proved true; MCHG is Jay Z’s record-breaking 13th number one album. No solo artist has ever had more. Six more and he matches The Beatles. #Factsonly
Ironically, in an interview last week, Jay Z described certain aspects of the Samsung arrangement to be “a loss” for MCHG – specifically, issues with the Samsung app which prevented some fans from successfully downloading the album. “The people that waited and downloaded it you want them to have that experience right away. That was the thing that was disheartening to me,” he said.
Jay Z’s statements were made prior to the news of MCHG’s robust sales figures. Still, there’s something refreshing about a self-proclaimed “business man” who is passionate about the quality of the fan experience and not just the bottom line. Which is part of what marketing is meant to do — speak to the customer and their experience of the product and/or brand while also driving sales. Despite myriad professional achievements, Hov continues to approach his work with the same relentless tenacity that catapulted him from obscurity, to his indisputable status now as a music heavyweight and mogul extraordinaire. From both a business and life perspective, there is a tremendous lesson for all of us in that.
Karen J. Francis is a freelance writer and media attorney living in New York City. Please follow her on Twitter @karebelle.
Social capital is one’s ability to use their social relationships for productive benefits in their lives, as defined by Social Capital Research. A recent study published in Future Internet discovers how African-Americans use social networks to promote their own social capital and economic mobility.
If you can effectively use your friendships and acquaintances to enhance your career and livelihood, you have powerful social capital. Unfortunately, blacks are disadvantaged in the social capital aspect; their networking with potential employers falls short compared to whites. This is a topic we touched on earlier this month, with our writer saying:
As Ditomaso points out in the piece when you are poor and black, you tend to only network with other poor and black folks, which means that the odds that your network would be able to connect you to the right opportunities, particularly ones that will enable you not to be poor anymore, are relatively slim. To Ditomaso’s point, connections are how most folks nowadays get jobs. That’s because the vast majority of job openings are not advertised – or at least not the good ones. And the only way to tap into the underground job market is if you, for the lack of a better term, have a hook-up.
Researchers delved into two reasons why African Americans have less productive professional relationships than whites. The first reason is fear that the job referral may disappoint the boss; one’s reputation is at stake. Secondly, studies have shown that black managers at Fortune 500 companies simply possess less clout than white managers.
The study indicates that African Americans can use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote their name and increase the likelihood of socio-economic mobility. In interviewing about 2,250 African Americans, the researchers concluded that the use of social networking can make up for the lack of social capital accrued by Blacks. African Americans are 44 percent more likely than whites to have more than one profile, which can increase one’s potential of meeting beneficial business contacts and promoting one’s brand.
Ultimately, the study focuses on how blacks can use an online platform to mitigate offline inequality. To increase your personal brand using social networks, check out our useful tips on enhancing your online profile.
Are you using Facebook and Twitter to bolster your career?
Your social media profile could make you or break you. It’s called “branding” ladies! Once upon a time only companies had to worry about their brands. But in the new digital world, individuals do as well. When it comes to online personal or business branding, the creation of social media profiles is absolutely essential regardless of age or your place on the career ladder. Whether you are just trying to get more exposure online, seeking employment, connect with your fans or customers, or working to increase your Klout score, social networking profiles are essential.
Am I the only one not surprised that Mo’Nique ended up losing weight?
Not that I was banking or placing odds about her personal appearance either way but rather acknowledging the delicious irony of “The lady doth protest too much…” And there was no bigger proponent of the fat girl fabulous gospel than Big Mo. It’s a sentiment that Mo’Nique has written extensively about in her New York Times Bestseller Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes from a Big Girl in a Small-minded World as well as her equally successful, high-calorie cookbook, entitled Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted, which featured “foods with flavor, from chocolate and cream to sugar and butter and everything in between.”
In fact, a huge part of her schtick as a comedienne and an entertainer was her appeal to a niche but rather large (I swear to God, on second reading, this is not a pun) market: the big girls. Whether you were a big girl or happened to be an admirer of the big girl body, She was pretty, sassy, funny and mostly importantly comfortable and confident in her skin. Behind the joke was an inspiration message. She could talk humorously about big girl love, relationships, sex appeal and even sex without being self-deprecating.
Remember the film Phat Girlz? Or the television show “Fat Chance”? What about the all plus size version of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”? Mo’Nique even had a brand slogan called F.A.T., which was an acronym for Fabulous And Thick. Heck, I remember that the only reason folks were still tuning in to the later episodes of “It’s Showtime At the Apollo” was to see what fabulous big girl getup Mo’Nique was rocking. Her overall brand as a comedienne was about daringly standing in the face of the single narrative of what was beautiful and healthy. And in some ways, she was a militant, fat acceptance fighter, as suggested in this 2006 article in Salon, where the breakout star of the show “The Parkers” even had offered up some less than supportive advice to former “The View” co-host Star Jones, who had rumored to undergone weight-loss surgery: “What I say to those beautiful women is, come on back! Be healthy, but come on home! Don’t be afraid of that big juicy steak with that baked potato and sour cream, baby, on top of it! That is heaven!”
But now the comedienne turned actress and television personality has lost an impressive 82 pounds. Instead of big juicy steaks and bake potatoes with all the fixings, Mo’Nique now only pigs out on a mostly vegan diet (with occasional fish) and she has also started a regular exercise regiment too. Not to mention that she looks great. In most circumstances a healthier Mo’Nique would be commended however you do have to wonder what she’ll joke about now that she is no longer F.A.T?
Last night on a humbug, I watched the last one-hour comedy special she did called Mo’nique: I Coulda Been Your Cellmate! I haven’t seen Mo’Nique’s standup routine in a long time, so I needed a refresher about her overall comedy style outside of the F.A.T. Brand. I have to say, outside of the constant screaming of “yasss!” there really wasn’t much that makes Mo’Nique stand apart material-wise. In fact, without the big girl brand, it would be hard to distinguish her from a number of funny yet non-household named black female comedians like Leslie Jones, Big Roz or even her two Queens of Comedy cast mates Sommore and Sheryl Underwood. This lack of comedic individuality is something I also noticed during her brief stint as late night talk show host on the BET network where without the defiant, big girl attitude her monologues were pretty dry and lackluster.
Generally speaking any type of extreme weight change can have an effect on one’s career. It was true of Kirstie Alley, who very public battle with weight held more of our public attention than her actual acting career. And it held true for Jennifer Hudson, who despite not ever declaring an alliance to Team Chunk, drew the ire of folks, who saw her weight loss as some sort of betrayal to the body acceptance movement. During her rise Mo’Nique’s jokes about skinny women were hilarious, not because they were necessarily bust-a-gut funny but because it spit in the face of what is considered normal in society. Many of us, who struggled with not only weight issues but other body acceptance issues applauded her success. Clearly this is not the message anymore. Instead Big Mo is championing women to get healthy. Nothing wrong with that. People evolve on personal choices and philosophies every day. However, branding is another thing. it will be interesting to see where Mo’Nique’s career goes now that she is just an average, skinny evil woman.