By Farai Simoyi, founder of Farai Inc.
Many people have dreams of creating a global empire as successful as Oprah has done, but many fail to realize that her brand was not built overnight, in fact Oprah has been building her brand for the past 40 years and it took many failures and pivotal moves to get her where she is today. Below we will look at 5 Steps Oprah has taken to build a global brand: ready...set...go!
1. Worldwide Brand Promise
Oprah is a powerhouse. She is one of the few women who have managed to build one of the top global brands with mass appeal and she has done this through delivering a highly compelling brand promise. Oprah's brand is able to produce product quality and innovation with emotional appeal regardless of where her brand is positioned. Every time you pick up a copy of Oprah Magazine or see her name in an advertisement as consumers we automatically know the level of quality we are going to receive. Your brand must ensure to have a worldwide brand promise so that wherever your consumer is, they know what to expect.
2. Find an Opening & Climb Through It
Oprah started her career as an evening news reporter in Baltimore, but she was fired from the position because she was too emotionally invested in her stories. A producer on the network even went as far as to say she was “unfit for television news”. The network demoted her to a day time show called “People Are Talking” which turned into a hit and prompted the start of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah understood that what some deemed as her weakness of being emotionally invested in her stories turned out to be her greatest strength which she used to her advantage. She found an opening in the market where consumers, especially women, wanted to hear stories that pulled at the heart strings and ones that they could relate to. When you see an opening in a market learn to push forward. They say some of the most successful business are those that solve a problem or those that cater to an under served demographic.
3. Tell Your Own Story
Oprah has always been a cheerleader of getting others to tell their story and in return we've gotten to learn about hers. There is no greater power than being the voice of your own story. People are now more invested in the people behind the brands as opposed to just the brands. Create an “About Us” or “Meet The Founder” tab on your website where you can go into detail about your background and what made you decide to start your own business. The more you share your story the more people will have an attachment to you and your brand. This will help you develop customer loyalty.
4. Take Calculated Risks
One of Oprah's most calculated risks was starting the OWN Network in 2011. The first year, OWN Network estimated losses were 330 million USD forcing Oprah and herteam to undergo a major overhaul. These losses where attributed to the lack of compelling content, limited viewership, & how OWN contractually positioned the brand with cable providers. However, addressing these failures head on helped her turn her network into a success. After her team reworked the business plan they realized that Oprah's loyal fan base missed seeing her on the screen, so they went back to the basics and started reintroducing Oprah on her network through shows such as SuperSoul Sunday & Oprah's Next Chapter with her record viewed Lance Armstrong Interview. We have to realize that in order for our businesses to grow we have to take risks. Risks are our best teachers because they bluntly show us our weaknesses and our strengths. If you currently feel stagnant in your business take a well thought out risk, it will be the best thing you can do for your business.
5. Collaborate + Partner
Oprah's brand has been built on collaborations and partnerships especially with women owned businesses. If you flip through an Oprah Magazine you will see hundreds of brands that Oprah and her team have endorsed or partnered with. One company Oprah is currently partnering with is Weight Watchers. As we all know Oprah has been dealing with her weight for years and she attributes it to her love for food. Her joining the Weight Watchers program is a great way for her to align her personal goals with her company goals. This type of partnerships does not take away from her brand, it only enhances it and allows her fan base to realize the human side of her brand. Before you collaborate or partner with another brand make sure your visions and ethics are aligned. The last thing you want to do is confuse your customers by endorsing a brand that could potentially ruin the integrity of your company.
Now that we've gone over the 5 steps to building a global brand, your next move is to get started! While you're working through the steps remember that it is reinvention and resilience that will keep your brand strong for years to come. Every year I go through this list because as you grow your company, your company needs should be changing. Pain points I had in 2016 may not necessarily affect me in my business in 2017, so remember to frequently replay, reinvent, and be resilient.
Farai Simoyi is the founder of Farai Inc., a sustainable and ethical lifestyle brand that focuses on people, product, and planet, founded in 2010 in Brooklyn, NY. This highly talented international fashion designer originally hails from Zimbabwe but now calls New York home. She was recently honored on the pages of FORBES and featured by the likes of Essence and Time Out as "Next Best Designer," Farai's purpose: "creating global fashion houses and developing emerging fashion designers."