Building Incredible Brands: How Did They Do It?

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When you start a business, your first major hurdle is to build a brand that stands out – brands define great companies. This is a project that really has to be addressed before you get into the myriad of details involved in building your business. And this topic is do or die for most companies. Branding should be done before you release your first press release, stock your shelves, or do your first consultation. And many companies will pay big bucks to get their branding just right.

Not only is your brand the core of your marketing plan, it literally impacts every part of your organization. An effective brand will not only be your marketing message, it will serve as a sales pitch and a roadmap to a successful and profitable business venture.

There are common traits among successful brands – these are companies who have their brand stories down pat:

1. Start with Solving the Problem(s)

The key to building a terrific brand is to identify a market need using the current culture. Nike and others have done this by utilizing topics of injustice. You can effectively spin a compelling brand story using this methodology.

“It’s important to have a story that people can understand and connect with,” said Jennifer Eggers, group director of brand communication at branding firm Siegel+Gale. “Especially with newer brands, people care and expect that the brand is coming into existence for a good reason – to solve a problem, to change how we do things, to meet a specific need – and the story is central to communicating the brand’s purpose.”

2. Proudly Claim Underdog Status

It’s David versus Goliath in the brand industry and many underdogs never give up and fearlessly take on titans of their industry. And it can pay off in a big way. These are the disruptors and their stories make for epic reading. They are the renegades and the companies people love to follow and others aspire to become. Their brands become part of our culture.

3. Redefine an Experience and Retell the Story

A brand story is compelling because it has a message to impart. This happens in large part because many times the brand itself has taken an experience or an industry and turned it on its head. It shakes up the industry and creates a new standard.

4. Utilize Being ‘Social’ and Create Hordes of Followers and Fans

In today’s climate, social media and branding go hand in hand. If a brand has a clear identity and purpose, the company will connect with their followers and foster very devoted fans. It is no longer just a brand, but a status symbol and something that enhances a coveted lifestyle.

5. Proudly Flaunt the Founders of the Brand

A charismatic brand fosters passion in those who buy it and those who work for the company. A big part of that is the person or persons who founded the company. They don’t just let others do the work either. These are people who work in the company they started. They are the biggest salespeople for the brand and they embrace it as a kind of religion. Their company and brand are everything to them and it shows.

6. Know the Company and Their Brand – Know What They Stand For

The story of the brand, if compelling enough, can be distilled into a sound byte or an image that represents all the company stands for.

7. Do Good

And don’t just give it lip service… really do good. A company crafts its image in large part by giving back to communities, fostering sustainability, or by helping consumers find their best selves. These good deeds are what make great stories for a company. It makes them legendary not just memorable.

Here are ten examples of brands that have incredible stories:

Toms Shoes

“While traveling through Argentina in 2006, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie saw the hardships faced by children without shoes. This inspired him to create a for-profit business with giving at its core. The idea? For every pair of shoes the company sold, a new pair would be given to a child in need.”

“And with that, TOMS—short for Tomorrow’s Shoes—was born.”

Warby Parker

Warby Parker says it was founded as a rebellious upstart to tackle the problem of expensive eyewear after one of its founders lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford to replace them as a grad student. They also partner with nonprofits such as VisionSpring to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair sold.


In a letter from founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman on the GoPro site, he writes, “GoPro helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others – to celebrate them together. Like how a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun. The world’s most versatile cameras are what we make. Enabling you to share your life through incredible photos and videos is what we do.”


Who SoulCycle is: “Our mission is to bring Soul to the people. Our one of a kind, rockstar instructors guide riders through an inspirational, meditative fitness experience that’s designed to benefit the body, mind, and soul. Set in a dark candlelit room to high-energy music, our riders move in unison as a pack to the beat and follow the signature choreography of our instructors. The experience is tribal. It’s primal. It’s fun.”


Chipotle claims it is in the business of good food. It seeks to use high-quality raw ingredients, classic cooking techniques, and distinctive interior design to bring elements of fine dining to quick-service restaurants. Chipotle also says it seeks to cultivate a better world with respect for animals, farmers, and the environment.

Developing Your Brand: Who Are You?


Uber states that they are evolving the way the world moves. “By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.”


Airbnb promotes itself as a trusted community marketplace for consumers to list, discover, and book unique accommodations for unique travel experiences. All at affordable prices.

Under Armour

Under Armour brands itself as the originator of performance apparel, or athletic gear designed to keep athletes “cool, dry and light throughout the course of a game, practice or workout.”


Beats claims it brings the energy, emotion, and excitement of playback in the recording studio back to the listening experience and it has introduced a new generation to the possibilities of premium sound entertainment.

Virgin America

Virgin America states that its mission is to make flying good again, with new planes, attractive fares, top-notch service, and a host of amenities that reinvent domestic air travel. “The Virgin America experience is unlike any other in the skies, featuring mood-lit cabins with WiFi, custom-designed leather seats, power outlets, and a video touch-screen at every seatback offering guests on-demand menus and countless entertainment options,” the brand adds.

Tell us what your favorite brand story is and why. There are great ones out there and yours could be one of them.

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