In this day and age where there are so many people literally doing the same things, selling the same goods, or offering the same services, it’s no wonder why businesses struggle to figure out and showcase their strengths and uniqueness. There are numerous ways to stand out from the competition and establish your brand, but in order to do so and maintain that standing one must truly know who they are and what exactly they bring to the table. Failure to find and showcase the unique differences you have will surely put constraints on your business’s ability to grow and thrive. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to read the examples below and then decide if you truly believe differentiation is important.
Example 1: Nipsey Hussle & Proud 2 Pay
The hip-hop industry is often one of the most difficult to fully differentiate yourself in, but that didn’t hold true for the late Nipsey Hussle. Even before signing a partnership deal between his label All Money In & Atlantic Records, Hussle was already regarded as one of the biggest independent acts and one of the most respected throughout the game. He’s best known by the statement “The Marathon Continues” but a bold example of utilizing a personal brand is his Proud 2 Pay campaign model.
Proud 2 Pay started in 2013 when he sold 1,000 copies of his Crenshaw project for $100. This method came about because he deemed the system was a way for consumers to pay artists directly for their work and smite the aging record label system. All 1,000 physical copies of Crenshaw were sold within 24 hours; Jay-Z himself purchased 100 copies to support Nipsey’s nihilistic tactics. Combined with the support that he received from fans and fellow artists alike; Nipsey netted over $100,000 in a small amount of time. The following day, he would go ahead and release the project online for free, as if mooning the record labels in frantic merriment.
Having people believe in your name, product, and brand in such a way speaks testament to the strength of the said brand. This great feat boosted his name to a sense of notoriety in the music game. People saw that you can buck the system and win. This standing and continued growth on the brand powered Nipsey all the way through to his debut album, Victory Lap, being nominated for a Grammy in 2018.
Example #2: Rihanna & the Fenty Empire
Singer/songwriter Robyn Rihanna Fenty has left an ever-expanding mark on the world. The wildest truth behind that statement is that she hasn’t released an album in 4 years, but her platform and brand have grown more than ever before. She is now the owner of several brands: Fenty, Fenty Beauty, Savage X Fenty, & Fenty Skin. She has leveraged her business acumen and personal following to grow each of these ventures into very successful businesses.
Example #3: LeBron James
While known from his GOAT-level basketball skills, LeBron has made a name of great magnitude off the court. James has leveraged his name, network, much more to build a portfolio that can arguably be the greatest by an active player across all sports. In addition to holding the NBA’s top endorsement portfolio, James owns his own production company, Springhill Entertainment, and media company, Uninterrupted. He partnered with Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lindsey Vonn in 2018 to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company. The LeBron James Family Foundation opened the I Promise School in 2018 and plans to spend $41 million to send kids to college. None of these things would be possible without having the strong brand that he’s been developing since his days at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
Each of these examples shows the importance of having a strong brand, personal or business, and that tying into your ability to grow your businesses. There’s no set formula for building this brand strength, the only requirement is to stay true to yourself and remain consistent. A fake brand, even if momentarily strong, will never pass the test of time.