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Be The Only

SEPTEMBER 2011 Millennial Marketing Insight from HypeLife Brands: "Be The Only"

In this month's branding insight, I’d like us to focus on the amazing power of being The Only. What is your brand the only of?

Being The Only holds an almost holy power for a brand - no matter what it is, why it exists, or what it offers. Our work with every client begins with this important piece to help navigate us towards building successful brands. We start with it so it can lead us to many uncovered powers, opportunities and ultimately, your WHY.

Many of the most successful and influential brands out there are The Only in their category. Apple is the only lifestyle brand that offers what it’s something much more than just computers, it’s a new lifestyle that no other brand can claim, a subtle challenge to the status quo. Pinkberry blew up because it was one of the only brands successfully making yogurt, healthy eating (well, depending on your toppings), and the experience thereof sexy, hip and fun. Established brands like TCBY failed to capitalize on these opportunities even though they had many years to do so through a much needed rebranding of their they're going to be playing catch-up indefinitely.

Taking The Only concept into the realm of music (my favorite area for metaphors, of course), we can see this at play all over the globe. Lady Gaga? Love her or hate her, she's the only in her genre by a long-shot. As the “Pop Queen” she combines post-modernism, art, art nouveau, performance, and catchy tunes. There isn’t even a remote competitor on the music landscape right now that can begin to touch her empire. 

On the other hand, we have Nicki Minaj, who's either got a track playing on your radio every other minute, or a guest appearance. Yup, she’s the only...the only mainstream female rapper-and-then-some doing anything to speak of these days (and yes, she's talented and can sing as well, which helps). Kanye? The only. Tyler the Creator? Once again, the only...crazy flows, crazy rhymes, unique  production - there's a reason Kanye's given him a shout out back in February and the hype-train for his recent release was out of control. Results? More press than you can shake a stick at, and he's winning awards, whether he likes it or not. 

Other standouts from our recent hip-hop past that were, or still are, The Only? Jay-Z (unique flow, powerful stories, and unmatchable wordplay), Biggie (unique flow, unique charisma, unique sound), and of course, Madonna. Once again, no artist was able to so uniquely reinvent themselves in the pop category while still remaining relevant and The Only. The results? She dominated music and sold millions upon millions of records almost no matter what she did.

So again, what is your brand the only of? If you know what your brand's only is, immense power lies just under the surface of the simple appearance of the brand...knowing and articulating this only through your brand's messaging, positioning in the marketplace, and how your brand shows up in the world are all clutch. Harness this and the road for your brand's life ahead can be paved with gold. Fail to capture it, or if your brand is only another copycat artist, and you'll have a much tougher go at it.

The first step is to take a step back and think about it. Write out as many ideas as you can along the lines of "Superdupa Flow Clothing is the only brand that ______________" and find a position you can build from so your competitors can't even touch what you're doing. You'll reduce your competition to nil, and your brand will be the only one your fans turn to when they want something unique. And Generation Y loves let your newly defined The Only brand be another brand for them to love...maybe even past tomorrow.


Curt Cuscino
Principal + Lead Brand Navigator
HypeLife BrandsSaveSave