What's Your Unique Brand Voice?

How to Use Story to Create a Magnetic Brand Experience with Kimberly Smith of The Brown Beauty Co-Op (Podcast Episode)

I remember during our final branding engagement call, she said she wanted to open a store.

A real-life store.

A brick-and-mortar sort of situation.

Something that would require actual foot traffic in 2018.

To be honest, I thought she was crazy.

A new brand with not enough research on its customer base, an e-commerce destination that needed attention in order to grow, and (what I believed to be) a beyond risky brick-and-mortar environment in Washington, DC couldn’t possibly survive that kind of premature endeavor.

At that moment, I forget what kind of women I serve. I forgot how visionary the CEOs are that entrust me with their brands. After all, their steadfastness and snappy “yes’s” and “no’s” are the reason we vibe.

Kimberly Smith, founder of Marjani and co-founder of The Brown Beauty Co-op proved me wrong. In fact, she exceeded what I would expect of any brand in its infancy.

She opened that store. It’s fabulous.

Marjani, the brown girl beauty authority e-commerce business gave birth to the in-store collaborative venture that is The Brown Beauty Co-op.

And let me tell you, the experience created beyond those two doors in Dupont Circle couldn’t be classier of an example on how to tell a story, in real life #IRL.

In this week’s episode on The Share, I sat down with my client, friend and breakout beauty innovator to learn exactly how she transferred the magnetic brand story of her e-commerce brainchild into an in-store experience that has – in less than 18 months –  brought brown girls from everywhere together to celebrate their beauty and “Be the Possibility.”  

TUNE IN NOW to to Episode 03 on The Share to learn “How to Use Story to Create a Magnetic In-Store Experience.”

In this episode, you will learn …

-How to set an in-store mood that reflects your brand story and connects with your target customers’ shopping expectations

-How co-founder Kimberly Smith stays true to the Marjani brand voice offline through its employees, in-store signage, decor, and its sales approach

-Why it’s important for small businesses to partner with each other and the benefits they both can achieve from being “on the shelf” and “on the ground” with their target audience

-What Marjani’s core brand promise, “Be the possibility” really means to its founder and the customers it aims to serve in its in-store environment

Click here to listen in on our candid conversation and get inspired to exceed your industry’s (or your consultant’s) offline expectations!

How to Stay True to Your Mission & Ignore The Competition (Podcast Episode)

“What would you do if another brand moved onto your block?” 

The question is never a matter of if another brand will mimic your products, capture the attention of your customers, or try to delete your existence – it’s a question of when?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have something great to offer the world that’s already been proven. What that means is that that little copycat of a competitor is coming sooner rather than later. 

Here’s the solution on how to realistically compete as a startup against a big fish holding $100,000 more in marketing dollars than you …

My advice is simple:

Stay true.

One of the things that I always teach my students in Brand Story Mentorship™ is how to stay true to your mission and ignore the competition. I don’t preach that irresponsibly, of course. 

The lesson is rooted in the idea that your competition’s moves shouldn’t dictate yours. Their innovation cannot motivate yours. Their strategy must not alter your story. 

Don’t get me wrong, staying true doesn’t mean standing still or doing nothing. If you’re scaling a business, you absolutely must take continuous action to stay relevant.

My point is that your actions should stem from the intangible asset that no one on the planet can imitate, even if they do have triple the force in business-building resources.

It’s called your mission. 

In storytelling, we refer to it as your brand promise: the all-encompassing statement that explains the very reason for your existence. 

For Starbucks, it’s …

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one cup, one person and one neighborhood at a time.”

For Nike, it’s … 

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” 

For Marjani, a brown girl beauty retailer I had the pleasure of crafting the story for, it’s … 

“To break the mold of beautiful.” 

When you know your mission and you’re 100% confident in it, you’re able to compete on the basis of “why” not “what”.

Successful brands focus their marketing communications and brand growth efforts around why they’re selling what they’re selling to compel people to buy from them. Short-timers, on the other hand, gain short-lived popularity by expending their energy (and ad money) on promoting only the features and benefits of what they’re selling.

The shortcoming of the latter is that “what” is easily duplicatable. Not to mention that the “conscious consumers” of today buy more frequently from brands with clear missions that resonate with who they are. 

When you know your mission, you’re also able to innovate in a way that’s personalized to your brand and to what your customers expect from you. 

For example, a large competitor may be trying to knock off a particular lipstick of yours and sell it to the same market. Instead of trying to create more lipstick colors or invest money in improving your formulas, you’d reference your original mission (let’s say it’s something around “challenging beauty standards”) and create a complementary product for your customers that fulfills that mission in a new way. 

The Lip Bar, one of the most buzzed-about beauty brands right now, just did this with their launch of Fresh Glow, a 2-layer bronzer and blush duo. 

Let’s say you’re a service-based business with a mission “to empower new entrepreneurs with a CEO mindset.” When a new thought leader emerges with a “Side Hustle to CEO” course, instead of creating a competing CEO course with the same content topics, consider what “empowerment” uniquely looks like for your brand. Maybe serving your audience of CEOs involves a higher touch service, like a mastermind, retreat or VIP day. 

That’s what I mean by staying true and ignoring the competition. 

It’s about moving forward from the root of your brand’s core, rather than scrambling to play the game with competitors only chasing trends and popularity.

Remember, there are customers relying on you to be you. 

And believe it or not, in today’s crowded and competitive marketplace, there is still a cohort of humans loyal to brands that are loyal to themselves. 

Are you one of them?