Grow Business Fast with a Great Company Brand
In this excerpt from their new book, Get Big Fast and Do More Good (Amazon Publishing/New Harvest, 2013), entrepreneurs Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish share their 14 steps to creating a successful company brand. Their hard-won insights resulted in the 2006 launch of their natural beauty brand and products, Yes To, now the second largest natural beauty brand in America.
Step One: Pick a really great name.
If you are going to choose a horribly bad name, choose it for your first, smaller business. And try, try, try to pick a slightly better one for the business that takes off.
Once we’d agreed on the name, I’d tell it to my friends and I’d always get the same response: They’d pause and think about it and smile. And they never forget it.
Step Two: Be a little bit delusional.
We couldn’t afford to buy data in our first few years of business; we were basically flying blind. When we finally got the numbers, we found out that we were the fifth-biggest natural-beauty brand in the marketplace (and now we are number two).
Having those delusions can drive you forward, as long as you can still clearly visualize what you want for your company.
Step Three: Be a little bit jealous.
Inside every entrepreneur there needs to be a sixteen-year-old kid going out with his first girlfriend. You’ve got to be jealous.
Step Four: Hold off on advertising till you really understand your product and your customer.
Don’t worry that you are losing opportunities. Wait until all the elements are in place and you have the right ideas, the right people, and the money to do it well.
Step Five: Don’t outspend, outmaneuver.
Rather than try and outspend our competitors’ campaigns (since our competitors were driving the customer into our aisle), we would do “buy one, get one free” promotions and give the customer better value. By doing this we were able to level the playing field and piggyback on our competitors’ ability to get a consumer interested in naturals. A small company has to get creative about their brand when going up against a Goliath.
Step Six: Realize that good ideas can come from unexpected places.
Let your partner surprise you. Listen to them when they have an idea in “your” area of expertise and give it a chance. Don’t pigeonhole each other; after all, you are both seeing, reviewing, and thinking about the same inputs and information, but from different perspectives.
Step Seven: Personify your brand.
We are not smarter than our peers, we just put ourselves forward more because we want it so badly. Wearing orange is a small and easy gesture; I’m not jumping out of a hot-air balloon, but my orange socks have an impact; they’ve become my trademark. What’s yours?
Step Eight: Evaluate your relationship with your competitors.
I want to be friends with my competitors, because you never know what will happen. One day they may be the people most likely to buy you out, or they might want to partner with you or even want to work for you. So make friends with your competitors, and build a sincere relationship with them.
Step Nine: Find a category that has room to improve.
The best way to build a better business is to find a category that is succeeding in spite of itself. The other brands in our category were succeeding with products that were almost twenty years old; they weren’t bad, but they weren’t reaching their full potential either.
Step Ten: Look for your niche within that category.
Budding entrepreneurs often assume that they need to create something “completely new and unique,” but those are one-in-a-million ideas, and, frankly, most people are never hit by that bolt of “brilliant idea” lightning. The more useful tactic is to find a business where you can launch with a small percentage of a big market.
Step Eleven: Know when patience is needed and when patience is bu**shit.
Don’t let the concept of patience stop you from getting on a plane, hustling a meeting, or finagling your way into an industry conference that you don’t have a hope in hell of being invited to attend.
The flip side to this is that you’ve got to be somewhat patient for process. Our product formulations are key to our integrity and success, so we give them as much time as they need.
Step Twelve: Be the most interesting person your accounts deal with.
Chutzpah, a Yiddish term, can be a very attractive and valuable characteristic; it makes other people want to know who you are and be around you, if only because you’re probably the most interesting person in the room.
Step Thirteen: Start a conversation with your best customers.
Every three months I do has a conference call with the “VICs.” VIC stands for Very Important Carrots; and none of them have much in common besides the fact that they use and love Yes To products. Most of the VICs originally got in touch through Facebook, and there is no formal organization. We have thousands of VICs who go out of their way to talk about us.
Step Fourteen: Find the ten people you need to know to get your company brand to the next stage.
Find those ten people and convince them that whatever you are doing is better or bigger or stronger. If you can get those ten people to buy into what you are doing, and nurture and cherish those relationships, then that’s a huge part of building a massively successful career or company.
Excerpted from Get Big Fast and Do More Good by Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish, with permission from Amazon Publishing/New Harvest.
© 2013 by Lance Kalish and Ido Leffler.
On-sale November 5, 2013.
All Rights Reserved.
Ido Leffler is the Co-founder and "Chief Carrot Lover" of San Francisco based Yes To, Inc., the makers of Yes To Carrots, Yes To Cucumbers, Yes To Tomatoes, Yes To Blueberries and Yes To Grapefruit. Since 2006, Leffler and his team have built Yes To into one of the leading natural beauty brands in the world, achieving distribution in over 24,000 stores in over 20 countries, including Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Whole Foods Market, and Sephora Europe. Today, Yes To is the second largest natural beauty brand in America.
With a lifestyle that can be measured in frequent flyer miles, when the brand first launched, Leffler spent more than 400 days (in less than two years) flying around the globe, spreading the Yes To message. This travel, however, never hindered his commitment to Yes To's most important customers, who are known as "Very Important Carrots."
Lance Kalish is the Co-founder and former Chief Operating Officer for the Finance, Operations, Sales and International business units of Yes To Inc. Over the past six years, Lance and Leffler built the brand into one of the fastest growing skin care companies in the world, with coverage in over 24,000 stores in more than 20 countries.
Kalish is a serial entrepreneur. While his day job is looking after Yes To operations in his homeland for the Australian & New Zealand markets, Kalish currently holds Chairman, Director, and Advisory Board seats at several consumer goods and Internet start-up companies. Prior to this, Kalish worked with Leffler in their former business, Trendtrade International, a brand management company involved in international business development, export management, distribution deal negotiation and facilitation.