The difference between Brand and The Brand, and why neither are defensible

“The brand is defensible” is a phrase increasingly muttered across the consumer landscape. The challenge with a statement like this is that “brand” usually lacks a definition, further perpetuating an important misunderstanding: people are mixing up…


Ignoring effective frequency: why buy buttons failed

Many considered buy buttons—little additions to social networks that allow users to buy what they were seeing—a major step forward for social commerce. Instead, they faltered. Conversions were dismal. Buy buttons failed for two reasons: 1)…


PayPal is an emerging brand’s best friend

To many people in the tech world, PayPal's days as an innovative company are long gone. The company brings up memories of an early frontier in web payments in the mid 2000s. But for an emerging brand, which often lacks a consumer's trust early…


Augmenting commerce with social, not the other way around

Companies across fashion and ecommerce have tried to bridge the divide between social and commerce by throwing boatloads capital at the problem. These efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Buy buttons and its ilk don't convert as expected,…


Emulating Facebook’s News Feed will fix fashion’s inventory problems

Fashion's retail cycle is dominated by endless sales and markdowns, which is highly problematic for brands and retailers. This is the ultimate race to the bottom: sales start earlier in the season, prices drop lower than before, all with the hopes…


Press is like crack and how fashion brands can stay off it

The fashion world looks at press as the holy grail. The common wisdom is that press is the best way to build a company and brand. The thinking is often along the lines of: If only we get press on this will the brand take off and we'll make a…


The fallacy of an online-only brand leading to immediate prosperity

When you start a new venture in a new industry, it’s easy to question why certain things exist. This is healthy, possibly mandatory, if you want to make an impact and stay ahead of the curve. But it’s highly problematic to take action without…


“I’m building a lifestyle brand”

I always laugh when people say they are starting a "lifestyle brand" from day one. You don't get to choose if you're a lifestyle brand; you have to earn it. Ralph Lauren didn't say he was a lifestyle brand when he first started selling ties. He had…


Gestures matter: thoughts on customer service

A brand is a set of values. Some of these values will influence how you treat your customers. These customers can be individuals you sell directly to or wholesale partners or distributors who you work with seasonally. Early on, you’ll have to figure…


It’s not all about money

Early on in a business, it's easy to think of success in a black and white manner. Is the business making money or not? Does this decision make me money? This is an easy lens to filter all of your decision through, but using it as a…