What the CEO of SoulCycle Wants You to Know About Branding

Written by Sam Lauron

We all know how important branding is for your career, whether you’re working your way up the PR agency ladder, leading a business of your own or establishing your personal brand. And if there’s anyone who understands branding, it’s the women who spoke at the Create & Cultivate pop-up that went down during this year’s SXSW conference.

Each panel that took place throughout the one-day event dropped some serious knowledge on entrepreneurship, female empowerment, all things business and the thing that ties it all together, branding.

Here’s what some of these talented brand builders and content creators had to say about crafting a brand that stands out from the crowd.

1. Embrace What Makes You Unique

For all brands, blogs and businesses alike, determining your niche or purpose is key to standing out in the crowd. Camille Styles of the eponymous lifestyle blog, knew that blogging was a crowded space and in order to stand out she had to figure out what made her website different from the rest. “If 99% of the brands in your space are essentially the same, then “find the 1% difference that makes you unique,” she noted.

If you need some guidance on figuring out how to best describe your brand, try a helpful exercise that Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking did when determining what made her food blog uniquely her: word vomit. She enlisted the help of friends to throw out words that described her and her blog, and eventually landed on a few key phrases that encompassed what she’s all about. A brainstorming session like this can help you figure out what makes your brand different and what kind of message you want to communicate to your audience.

2. Consistent branding is more important than you might think

We all know that consistency is key when it comes to building a brand (and most everything in life) but what exactly does that entail? Ashley Rose of the blog Sugar and Cloth offered tips for creating a cohesive aesthetic and brand voice. When curating an aesthetic that is authentically you, start by picking out 5-6 photos that you’re drawn to. Whether it’s the color palette, the subject matter or the photo quality, there will likely be something that is consistent in every photo that you choose. Then, use those photos as a reference for everything you post. This not only helps you figure out what your brand aesthetic is, but it will also help refine your content.

Your visuals aren’t the only factor that goes into creating a cohesive brand; your voice also plays a big role. Figure out your brand’s tone and make sure it’s evident throughout all of your content, whether that’s your website copy, blog posts or Instagram captions. Is your brand lighthearted and playful? Serious and informative? Inspirational? Determine what tone of voice best reflects your business and maintain that with everything you put out into the world.

No one can bring authenticity to your brand like you can, so focus on the big picture and do what you do best.

3. Live and Die (or at least decide) Based on Your Mission 

No matter what happens, whether it’s new challenges or periods of growth, always remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you keep your mission at the forefront of everything you do as a business, you can create a strong brand that will ultimately see big results. Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle says that a live human experience is at the center of SoulCycle’s brand. Everything they do across the board is centered around the customer’s experience. Coming from a household name, it’s safe to say that having a strong purpose behind your brand can build a truly loyal and dedicated audience.

Staying true to that mission also means that you need to “stay true to your vision and don’t worry about what others are doing,” added Camille Styles. No one can bring authenticity to your brand like you can, so focus on the big picture and do what you do best.

4. Branding is a marathon, not a sprint

Melanie Whelan added that although from the outside, everything looks big and branded, “it’s  just as challenging today as it was six years ago.” Building a brand is something that takes a lot of time and even more effort; a strong brand doesn’t form overnight. Even the best, most well-known brands out there have to work hard each and every day to maintain what they’ve built. But luckily, everything you do today is something that will add to your overall brand in the long run. By finding your niche, staying true to your mission, and maintaining consistency across the board, anyone can build a stand-out brand for themselves.

About Sam Lauron.

Sam is a writer and content marketer located in Austin, TX with a focus on thoughtful storytelling. Whether she’s conducting interviews with creative entrepreneurs or crafting web copy for lifestyle brands, her overall goal is to share their stories, knowledge, and brand messaging with intention. Connect with her on Linkedin.