This past week, WE Communications hosted a panel event where we brought together founding CEOs to talk about the beauty and battles of building a brand and how to manage a business when the world is in constant motion.
It was a compelling topic and broad enough to take us in several directions. Trish McEvoy, CEO and founder of Trish McEvoy Cosmetics and Susan Feldman, Co-Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer at One King’s Lane (OKL) and I tried to answer the pointed questions that Jenna Blaha, Marie Claire’s Fashion and Tech editor, put together.
“Aren’t we all suffering from MOTION SICKNESS?” – Jenna Blaha
There is no doubt that as the world dramatically changes around us, businesses must adjust while staying true to their brand. This is perhaps one of the most fundamental challenges of advising companies on their marketing and PR.
Trish and Susan offered practical advice like staying authentic to the brand and more often than not, having the strength to make controversial calls. They both talked about creating business ideas based on “finding the friction” in the marketplace: OKL started out of a perceived need for homeowners to have better access to furniture and decorating items that were previously only accessible “to the trade” and Trish McEvoy has built her brand with great products, coupled with teaching women how to use them. You may know her eponymous brand is famous for the half-face makeover, where they do one side and then the customer completes the other side. Even as they have started very different companies, they both credit word of mouth being instrumental to launching their commercial success. This is consistent with what we have seen in our recent Stories in Motion survey – that 54% of people would try, buy or recommend a product if it strikes them as a compelling new idea and over half of consumers surveyed also said they would recommend a product if the content related to it is helpful to their lives. Of course, these fearless, female founders have had to focus on one brand thriving for the past few decades. At WE, and throughout my career, I've seen so many businesses and have noticed some trends around what can be done to help them weather all the change affecting their share of dollar and their share of voice.
Here are some ingredients we think are critical in order to really fight against change, or use it to a business advantage:
They both shared stories of how they have evolved their businesses and their judgement over the years. One Kings Lane had to change from its start as a flash sale business, to a carefully curated home furnishings store that now lives both online and offline, with their OKL Studio in Soho. Trish talked about trust and surrounding herself with talented people, which she has done, but also ones who may need to pass a background check these days (this simple lesson was learned after an employee was caught stealing truckloads of product out of her warehouse). These very character traits of understanding honestly what’s going on, of looking ahead and at trends, data, how consumers are behaving and what the media is saying, to suggesting new ideas and change is exactly what we try to provide to our clients.
Something I learned being on the panel with two amazing business founders is that there is an undeniable super power among those brave souls who actually start their own companies. Trish McEvoy and Susan Feldman showed us that starting and fueling a company is as much about the culture as it is about the commerce. They do not rest on their success, they are consistently fighting for it, and even after decades of building a business, they continue to give culture, legacy and brand DNA a lot of thought.