Becoming brand famous: How to give your business celebrity status

18th Jul 2014

When you started your business or began working with your brand, you no-doubt had visions of where you’d like to take it in the future. The dream, of course, was to have everybody talking about it, everybody wanting to buy it and journalists desperate to feature it. Perhaps it got there but has since become dormant, or maybe it still hasn’t reached its peak. Either way, your brand has the potential to achieve, or return to, fame – according to entrepreneur and brand guru, Linzi Boyd. Following the recent publication of her book, Brand Famous, Linzi speaks to MyC about what brand fame really is and how you can get there.

Achieving fame for your brand is not as pie-in-the-sky as you may believe. In fact, Linzi tells us that it has never been easier – or more rewarding for that matter. “Years ago, people didn’t even associate with fame,” she says. “I think the whole digital mindset has allowed people to think about fame in a different way. Now you can be internet famous; there are so many different brands and people that have come out of the internet from Justin Beiber to Michelle Phan – who was so well-known for make-up [on YouTube] that she got a big deal with L’Oreal – through to bloggers who now have agents and are sitting in the front rows of catwalk shows. So, fame now is thought about in a completely different way to how it used to be; fame was always very inaccessible.”

The internet has not only made fame a lot more attainable for brands, but it’s also helped introduce and develop the concept of brand fame itself. It’s still a relatively new idea though, and whereas we all know what fame means for an individual, it’s less clear what would it mean for a brand – what’s in it for your business? “There are three things people always come to me for, says Linzi. “One is for more sales, the next is more awareness and the third one is bigger value. Brand fame delivers on all those three things so that you can have a global business, a recognisable global business.”

She illustrates this by telling us about a recent client: “We worked with a brand that had one retail stockist up in the north of England and they came to us desperate for sales and awareness. We ran a project with them and we bought in a girl who was on the tipping point of fame. She was going to cost some money but wasn’t going to be unreachable. We created a whole campaign around her and in one month it delivered them about £1 million of awareness, and over four months £5 million. But not only did it do that but it opened them 150 retail stores in the UK as well.”

Starting out 

A slice of the brand fame pie is looking pretty tempting now – so how should businesses go about securing theirs? Well to start with, you need to ditch old-school ways of thinking and work out your brand’s real purpose. “[New-school brands] think about their bigger value: what’s the big game that they’re playing, what’s the purpose that they want to deliver,” explains Linzi. “So rather than saying ‘I’m selling a shoe’, it’s ‘I’m delivering X’; ‘I’m providing you with X’; ‘my purpose is X’ – but they might still be selling shoes. So it’s thinking about the bigger purpose; [successful businesses] are the businesses that have a conscious way of looking at things.”

Establishing your brand’s purpose may be a tough job, but it’s critical to its success. “It’s worth spending more time on this discovery phase because that lays down the foundation so you can build your brand,” advises Linzi. “Then it’s really easy to keep refreshing your brand so that you don’t have to go into mass renovation phase.”

These build, renovate and refresh stages represent different phases your brand might currently be in – and to move forward you will need to determine which is appropriate for yours currently. “So, ‘build’ is where a brand is in early-stage growth, or it could be somebody that’s looking to turn themselves into a brand,” she explains, “and the ‘renovate’ phase is for someone that’s either had a mature brand for a few years and is looking for an overhaul, or they’ve had a brand that’s been famous and they’re looking to bring it back from a dormant stage. Then the ‘refresh’ stage is somebody that has already got a brand that’s doing well and they need to create some spikes, some refreshers, to keep it ahead of the game.”

Once you’ve completed this discovery phase and worked out exactly where you stand, Linzi advises spending time on creation – put together a marketing toolkit and develop your product. Then, you should be focusing on finding your audience and connecting them to your product, before moving on to the communicate phase, where you’ll be drumming up conversation around your brand – something that social media and online publishing has made a whole lot easier for you. The last step on the journey to brand fame is evaluation – you'll need to develop relevant KPIs and ROIs to measure yourself by. The book guides you through each step in detail, taking a learn-by-play approach by turning tasks into games and helping you overcome the barriers you’re likely to run into.

Think big

Your biggest barrier, however, is likely to be you. “People with small brands think that they have to be small,” explains Linzi. “Their main barrier is themselves. Think big. Have a can-do attitude. You don’t have to be the most talented to be the best. If you look at people like Richard Branson, Madonna, a number of people, they weren’t necessarily the most talented singer or the cleverest – Richard Branson left school at 15. They have a mindset – they don’t stop at the first hurdle when someone tells them they can’t do it; they don’t stop at the first hurdle when they have a knock.”

So, put the work in and have the right attitude and your brand could find itself in the industry spotlight. We’re not saying you’re going to be in all the glossies or plastered across the telly mind – that’s not the only kind of fame. “There are different types,” says Linzi, “from Nike which is an advocacy brand and doesn’t have a famous person attached to it, through to Richard Branson who has more of a guru-type brand, with a famous persona and famous brand [Virgin], or the stamp collector fame which is somebody that is very influential within his sector but is not famous to the outside world. Then you have celebrity fame that’s a famous person who doesn’t necessarily have a product behind them.”

The latter is the type we’re most familiar with; we’ve seen these celebrities emerge into, disappear from and return to the spotlight over and over. In the fast-paced 21st Century, five minutes is quite a considerable stint of fame, and similar rules apply in business. “So you’ve now achieved brand fame: everybody’s talking about you, all the retailers are buying you, you’ve got distribution channels, celebrities are wearing you, there’s a waiting list. So can you stop now? Is it game over? No,” warns Linzi. “Always do the five steps: always be creating new things, always be looking at new ways to do things, what’s next, how to improve. Always sit with your passions and your purpose, what is on-message for you, what do you want to be known for and how do you want to leave people feeling?

“Ultimately, you get through a 15-year cycle and you need to re-renovate your brand because times change so much. If you want to keep your brand ahead of the game then you always have to keep refreshing. You can’t stop.” 

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