What an industry-revolutionizing entrepreneur can teach us about business strategy and branding
By Emily McConkey
Devon Brooks opened up a new market category when, in her second year of university, she created Blo, the first-ever blow dry bar. Blo now has over 90 locations worldwide and continues to grow. Having handed over Blo’s operations, Devon’s now focuses primarily on mentorship, and her new brand, Sphere, is transforming the coaching and mentorship industry with its accessibility, user-friendly platform, and accountability. In building her own startups and advising others as they grow their own, Devon has become a leading expert in brand articulation and strategy.
Devon believes that the biggest challenge that faces small business owners is being able to communicate the unique value of their product. She says that the root of this challenge is in a company’s relationship to its brand identity. “If you can’t harness your brand strategy, you’ll just breed failure,” she explains. “So many people spend so much time on the business idea but don’t give it legs.”
With reference to Glossier and Outside Voices as case studies, Devon revealed to us how and why brand identity must be fully aligned with business strategy for a company to gain sustainable success.
Articulate your brand in your business model
Devon’s own ventures demonstrate the necessity of understanding your own brand identity from square one. Her projects, in their very essence, were category defining concepts that were naturally built upon an emotive, powerful message. Devon has seen brand articulation mastered by Glossier, a beauty company striving to represent real, authentic women:
“Glossier was the first beauty brand that wasn’t afraid to admit that women use products other than Glossier. Think about it; our makeup boxes are filled with brands. We are completely disloyal! We choose whatever is working for us right now. So Glossier said, ‘take us through your beauty routine. What do you put on before Glossier? What do you mix with our products?’ And they have their customers tell these stories. The Glossier experience is built on the fact that women use all kinds of products, and they don’t pretend it’s any other way.”
Build a cohesive relationship between product and brand
Devon also points out that as you create your product, your brand identity should direct the decisions you make. She looks to Outdoor Voices as a powerful example of this:
“Tyler Haney viewed the athleisure industry that was, ironically, led by men (more than 86% of its consumers are women), and realized that everything in the athleisure space is driven by “you’re not good enough.” She then created a brand that isn’t about you being the next Venus and Serena; it’s about you being happy and using your beautiful body in daily life, you know, choosing to walk to work instead of take the bus. Their brand strategy was in total alignment with their product creation: colourful, feminine designs that reflect day to day style rather than athletics, and fabrics crafted out of raw materials that work well with your body.”
When she’s not building her own businesses, Devon keeps busy speaking and helping others build theirs. Check out her speaking profile here.