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What’s up VaynerNation!

Many emerging entrepreneurs understand one thing: they need to build a brand. A business is much more than the goods and/or services you provide. Your business is your relationship to your customers, your reputation in the marketplace, and what people think of when they think of your company. All of this equals brand. The problem is, while many people understand what a brand is, they don’t understand how to build one themselves. Keep reading to find out what I think most new brands need to know.

Which is more important, “brand” or “product”?

Many people have internalized “brand” over “product” for a long time. However, I would argue that it’s brand and product. The Nike swoosh really matters, but making tremendous sneakers that function is also a part of it. I think we’ve all seen great brands get diluted due to execution. There are many things that start off remarkable but as they expand into other areas, they dilute. Keep that in mind.

How much does the price of a product or service impact a brand?

You know, I’ve always been fascinated by the price of a brand. Coming from the wine industry, I know there’s an ungodly amount of wines that are $100 dollars that are not as good as a ton of wines that are $30 dollars. Like, what is that all about? What does that mean?  I believe that people have a subconscious belief of something’s value based on what they’ve paid for it.

And I do think there’s a correlation between price and quality. However, I think equally and in conflict with that, people are aware that some things are better values than others. Both co-exist and I think, for me, with VaynerMedia, Wine Library, my personal brand “GaryVee”–given that I try not to monetize my content, I’ve always tried to be best in product and best in value.

That probably seems obvious. My dad’s liquor store was called Shopper’s Discount Liquors. It was a “discount store” but we were selling the best brands in the world, only we were selling at discounted prices. I come from that background. So, I think, whoever brings the best value and the best product becomes the ultimate winner.

Yes, the perception of price dictates people’s beliefs about brands, but I think that oftentimes leads to people over paying for things. It can lead to people not finding great opportunities and bargains. I also think, sometimes, it’s exactly right and I do believe that some of the best products and brands do command the prices associated with them. It’s a complex environment. If you took an item you were selling for 18 dollars, and you decided to raise it to $80 dollars because there’s no understanding of it’s value (say, it’s in an antique shop, for example) do I think that would play out? I do. I think people would perceive that $80 dollar item better due to that price change.

The statement for new brands should be, “try us”. By saying it, by saying hey, our coffee is better than Starbucks, but we’re a dollar a cup instead of four– come and try us. Then deliver on that promise and be close enough that people’s subjective opinions can go either way. You definitely can’t say “try us” and serve coffee that nobody on earth would agree is better than Starbucks’. 

Why some brands, like our partner’s at Asterisk, have eclectic leadership.

Coming from the wine business, I think the best meals have multiple ingredients. Cheeseburgers are epic because they have cheese and a bun and lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup, and mustard–not just the burger. I think that eclectic, different, diverse backgrounds and experience levels lead to better meals. I think it’s really unfortunate that people don’t see that and it has been a calling card for me. 

The most effective way to bring different elements of culture into your brand.

It’s around authenticity. Brands should feel comfortable incorporating. So much of what I incorporate is because I’m actually comfortable in that world. Knowledge helps too. For example, I know that there’s a huge opportunity for me in the surfing and skateboarding community. I also know that me, GaryVee, just doesn’t know it as well. It’s just not as authentic to me as sports cards, sports, or hip hop because  certain things are just not life experiences. I didn’t grow up in Malibu, surfing all day.  

Trust me, if I did, my audience would be bigger in that world because my analogies and my adjectives and my vibe would have more of that incorporated. I can speak to that group on a human level, but I can never explode in that group because I don’t have the full context. Unless I move and surf for ten years, I won’t have context. 

That’s what I think about brands. Play where you can and if you’re a brand, as opposed to a solo human being, hire people that understand those variables and then that gives you permission to play in those places. That’s a good idea.

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