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The 2 Steps to Building a Billion Dollar Brand


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Why do some brands achieve astronomical success while comparable brands fade into oblivion? The answer lies in the consumers’ hearts and minds.

Winning brands focus on the consumer’s emotional and intellectual response.

The best way to capture the heart and mind of your target audience is to create an unforgettable experience. An experience so amazing that your target audience can’t stop talking about your product or service. An experience that makes your target audience feel that their lives have been deeply enriched. In other words, create an experience that turns your target audience into a pack of screaming teenage girls at a One Direction concert.

Let’s look at a few companies that have created cult followings. In the retail sector, Lululemon and Apple are top of their game.

Lululemon enjoys sales per square feet of over $2,000, while Apple’s sales per square feet is 3 times that of Lululemon, at $6,000. To put this in perspective, Gap achieves $400 per square foot.

What is it about these 2 companies that morph their target audience into fanatical buyers? It’s all in the way they make the consumer feel.

Design — Lululemon’s tailored designs complement a woman’s figure and make her look and feel great. Prior to their launch, athletic apparel was frumpy and masculine.

Experience — The store recruits ambassadors to showcase the latest offerings; which enhances the bond the company has with their community. The in-store shopping experience and off-site events, including wine tasting, further the bond consumers have with the brand. Of course, everyone knows the Lululemon’s manifesto. In fact, many brands have attempted to copy this branding technique.

Design — Apple products are designed through the Apple Industrial Design Group, which was launched by Steve Jobs in 1977 to separate Apple products from their peer group. Prior to Jobs’ creations, consumer electronics were bulky and unattractive.

Experience — Apple’s story is celebrated in the book, The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty. When Steve Jobs set out to build the Apple store, his focus was not on selling product, it was on enriching the end-user’s life. The store is equipped with a small, yet highly trained, army, which direct consumers to in-store classes that enable the user to extract more value from the product. The icing on the cake is the floor design; which entices users to shop and browse for hours.

Lululemon and Apple are successful because they deliver beautifully designed products that make the end user feel smarter, healthier and happier.

Growing a winning brand requires selling, and selling relies upon design and user experience.

If you are building a company, spend some time in Apple and Lululemon for inspiration. Determine how you can bring the best design and experience to your target audience. Rumor has it that Steve Jobs spent time examining appliances at Macy’s to find inspiration for Apple products. Where do you find your inspiration? Leave a comment below.

This post originally appeared on Atelier Advisors. Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs.  All AlleyWatch readers are automatically eligible for a 50% discount on either of the courses using the preceding links.

Image credit: CC by Leo Hidalgo

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About the author: Lili Balfour

Lili Balfour is the founder and CEO of the SoMa-based financial advisory firm, Atelier Advisors, creator of Lean Finance for Startups and Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs, author of Master the Finance Game, and host of the Finance for Entrepreneurs broadcast on Spreecast.

After spending fifteen years in investment management and investment banking, she decided to develop a firm to cater to the specific needs of early-stage companies. At Atelier Advisors, Lili advises leading brands across industries: from tech to consumer goods. In the past, she has advised over 100 brands, including:

Bag, Borrow, or Steal, Visual IQ, Alpha Theory, Derivix, Practice Fusion, Peeled Snacks, Sustainable Minds, Firescope, Chix 6, Duchess Marden, Erin Fetherston, Eckart Tolle, and Stuart Skorman (founder of Reel.com, Elephant Pharmacy, Hungry Minds, and Clerk Dogs (sold to Netflix)).

While advising companies at Atelier Advisors, she observed a common theme – -brilliant founders avoided finance. She began writing about entrepreneurial finance to solve this problem.

As a native of Silicon Valley and a first generation Mexican American, Lili understands the importance of imparting wisdom learned in Silicon Valley to the rest of the world. Her goal is to teach the entire planet about entrepreneurial finance.

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