How Do You Create Authenticity?
David Oksman ’03, an advisor of the Summer Venture Program, spoke all about the importance of building a true brand that fosters a deep sense of connection and love within its consumers at a recent lunch and learn around marketing and branding. “I love to love,” said David. By building communities based on shared values and trust, David was able to create brand love for companies like Reebok and Life is Good.
Before David delved into creating a brand, he first had to define it. He explained that branding is about the relationship and associations your consumers have with your company. Using an example about Pavlov and his dog, David showcased that your brand should be clear to your consumers. Even more so, your brand should leave your customer wanting more.
Great brands fill a need. In doing so, a company understand how to emotionally engage with their customers. Nike is an example of a company that is able to trigger an emotional response from their consumers; they make people look and feel good. One way of doing this is by building an identifiable archetype for your brand. These are images, symbols, and ideas that are represent who we are. It is crucial to understand the archetype of your own brand. Nike’s is a warrior, with a “just do it” mentality. By using images of people being active, Nike is able to emotionally connect with their consumers’ aspirations and hopes of becoming fit warriors themselves.
In order to truly create an authentic and powerful brand, a company should fully encompass their mission throughout every facet of their business. “Why does your company exists?” asks David. Use that purpose to fuel the steps you take within your business. David gave an example about his time working with Life is Good to further showcase this idea. Life is Good is all about spreading optimism. Perfectly aligning with their brand and value, Life is Good hosted a Pumpkin Festival in which thousands of people came out to carve pumpkins and support Camp Sunshine. In fact, their first ever Life is Good festival gained an incredible amount of traction, with the most people on the Boston Common since the Vietnam war protests. All these people came as one to spread joy and optimism. This speaks volumes to their brand as Life is Good was able to bring people together all in the name of something their company believes in.
David spoke about his experience at Reebok to further showcase how important it is to internalize your company’s values. Reebok, a company focused on being one’s best self, got rid of all the soda machines in their company to reflect this healthy mindset. Furthermore, they only partnered with celebrities who were true to their mission like JJ Watt or Kendrick Lamar. David explained to our entrepreneurs that as startups, they have the ability to integrate their brand from the start—so take the chance to do so.
To end his talk, David highlighted that results are the outcomes of what you put into your company. To build a brand, of course you must do the challenging work, but most importantly, you need to know who you are and what you believe in. Stay true to that purpose and inspire others through your brand. If you do those things, your company will be able to prosper.
Want to learn more about David? Check out his advisor profile here!