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Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One

Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One

Welcome to 99U’s monthly Book Club, where we look at book releases that challenge us to think deeper, explore new perspectives, and spark a better understanding of the nuances of a creative career, from leadership and community building to productivity and everything in between. *** Red Antler, the Brooklyn-based agency founded in 2007, is behind some of the most memorable campaigns of recent years and is responsible for the branding of some now-household names. Casper, Allbirds, Snowe, Hinge—the company has a knack for developing the stories of start-ups and new ventures, with a fine-tuned radar for what draws us to a brand.  Co-founder Emily Heyward works with brands from their inception, during those heady first days of launching a product, so she has deep insight into what makes some brands stick. With an eye to the psychology behind consumer decisions, and a keen knowledge of cultural shifts that shape our choices, Heyward’s book Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One, is a blueprint for anyone thinking about branding and how to create a sustainable connection around a product or service.  We drew out some key lessons from Heyward’s book, and what her branding strategies can illuminate about integrity, community, and storytelling.  Start before step one Red Antler starts working with their clients long before the product launch date. As Heyward says, “Half of our clients are ‘pre-launch,’ which means that we meet founding teams before they’ve launched their businesses, and help them to create the entire consumer-facing experience through the lens of brand.”  It’s here that the work of brand building begins, and where the big questions need to be addressed and answered. With any venture, whether it’s launching your own studio or embarking on a freelance career, it is crucial to examine your intentions and take a step back to look at the big picture view. Long-term success is impossible without a deep understanding of your purpose and answers to the inevitable questions of who you are and what you stand for.  “With any venture, whether it’s launching your own studio or embarking on a freelance career, it is crucial to examine your intentions and take a step back to look at the big picture view.” Heyward says, “Founders need to be thinking about brand from before day one; it needs to be embedded in their culture from the very start.” By weaving it into the DNA of everything you do, your brand will always reflect a fundamental purpose, and help act as a North Star with any tough decisions. Think of branding as woven into your entire being, not a surface-level afterthought. “Leading brands are able to form deep emotional connections because they stand for something that people care about. When I talk about brand, what I’m actually talking about is what a business stands for, at its very core.” Follow the “Why?” questions  Obsession arises from the personal connection that consumers when brands speak to them on a deeper level—or when they encourage alignment of their lives and the product. Asking “Why should people care?” prompts a host of philosophical questions, and in Heyward’s experience, many of these eventually circle back to the big one—fear of death. This isn’t necessarily the grim concept that it sounds like! “To successfully launch something new and have people fall in love with it, you need to tap into a need that’s deep and true,  » Read More

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