Four Counterintuitive Methods to Build a Big Brand

Henrik Werdelin

There was a robot onstage when I walked into the Next Stage, located inside the Trade Show at SXSWi. I was hoping that robot was Henrik Werdelin, but no such luck. However, Henrik is the founder of Barkbox and I love dogs so he’s forgiven. Excited to hear what he has to say … even if he isn’t a robot (if he is it’s very convincing and he is passing my Turing Test).

Your brand is what other people say about you.

Rather than answering when people on Twitter ask for an opinion on BarkBox, the company retweets it and then lets their fans answer on their behalf.

1. Make everyone responsible for your brand. Encourage your customers, your finance team, your ops team, etc … make everyone buy into what you’re doing.

2. Focus on the user – not your industry. Know your unique proposition and work to bring that to everything that you do. For Bark, it was: dog as a lifestyle. They do it in each one of their divisions, BarkBox, BarkPost, BarkGood, etc.

3. Productize your internal brand. AKA brand from the inside out. Know who you are, live it and deliver products to your audience the same way. It’s all in your attitude. Allow people to interact with their people (people like them). Entertain and delight people.

4. Be a place to hang, even if customers aren’t buying. Don’t always be obsessed if you can monetize something or not. Create a relationship with your market and they will stay in the fold.

How to Cultivate Online Brand Ambassadors

Erin Ruberry – Peace Corps

Take content created by volunteers and Peace Corps shares it across all channels. They amplify what the volunteers are doing and don’t ask them to be social themselves. They’re the #1 brand ambassadors. If you’re not authentic, nobody is going to pay attention to you.

Give the host country a voice. Again, authentic way to learn about the experience.

Amplify the voices of friends and family back home. They want to celebrate what their loved ones are doing. Share how proud they are. “This is someone I know, let me tell you about it!”

Jason Townsend – NASA

We build compelling in-person events. Provide memorable and dynamic experiences.

  • Event participants come from local communities and go home sharing NASA content within their circles of influence.
  • Converse casual space enthusiasts into collaborators who want to share what NASA is doing.

We built a community that was there when we weren’t. NASA had to cease social media during the government shut down. The community stepped in during that time. News outlets even used the fans of NASA as sources to comment on stories during that time, since NASA couldn’t post themselves.