Create a strong brand Identity. Be bold. Be recognizable. Your tone of voice, your colors, your visuals — everything should be on-brand in order to stay top of mind in a world full of diversions. Be the fun diversion. From the packaging to the dimmer that adjusts the brightness of the sign, everything at yellowpop is branded. We love when people send us photos of a yellowpop package waiting on their doorstep. Even your unboxing should be an extension of the brand.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeremy Cortial.
Make cool things. Sell them online. Sounds pretty easy, right? As the co-founder of hot new home decor company, yellowpop, Jeremy Cortial knows creating a lifestyle brand is *slightly* harder than it looks. He and partner Ruben Grigri learned the ropes working in hospitality and design, and are rising to manage a growing team as their 3 year old brand takes off. Have they made some mistakes? Absolutely. Have they enjoyed the ride? 100%. From fans of street art and pop culture, to brand leaders that count Facebook, Smile Direct club, and Soul Cycle among clients, these two friends are on a mission to put one of their neon signs in every home. Because to them, creating neon signs means creating joy.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in France and have always had a special fascination for art & design which sparked from living in a country with such beautiful architecture. That passion led to my various jobs in design & interiors and ultimately creating yellowpop!
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
We both have experience in property renovation, interior design, and hospitality. Prior to starting yellowpop, we also had a coffee app called Drip, which gave us experience in the startup world. We’re both very passionate about art and design and wanted to create something that brings joy into people’s homes. That’s when we came across LED art.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
As entrepreneurs we surely had so many laughable moments — not sure if I can point a specific one right now! It’s all a part of the experience for us and we take every misstep is valuable a lesson
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
How I Built This is an amazing podcast. Hearing stories from entrepreneurs with so many different backgrounds and journeys is fascinating. I learned that Chipotle founder Steve Ells actually started the first Chipotle to finance a “real” restaurant. His story is very inspiring and proves that success isn’t always planned. Sometimes the vision and ambition come as you grow.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s not exactly a life quote, but it’s a word: Serendipity (we made a serendipity neon sign, and it’s one of our best sellers). This word really embodies our lives as entrepreneurs. It’s a long journey that mixes hard work, luck, and fortune. And honestly, sometimes it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. More importantly, you need to keep trying in order to create your chance to find the perfect formula. It’s going to be different for everyone.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
For us, being a lifestyle brand is about selling something that’s more than just a product. It’s the idea and the way of life behind it. Even if neon signs are our unique product, we don’t see ourselves as neon sign suppliers. We are selling an emotion, a statement, a mood booster. Buying a neon sign is more than buying a print. You buy something that speaks to you, that refers to something you care about and trust.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
Making people smile and be happy. We love the boost of energy that comes from neon. And we love leaving a positive, lasting impression in people’s lives. It’s so fun to hear how customers describe their yellowpop signs. When they tell us how “obsessed” they are, we know we’ve done our job right. It’s been a trip, really. Every day, we’re amazed to see so much enthusiasm toward our brand and our product.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
It’s probably very obvious, but the biggest example of a lifestyle brand (with a capital B) is Nike. They are not a brand. They are a statement. A way of living. What impresses us, is that they appeal to diverse customers and multiple sports, but their message is always spot on. Replicate is a big word, but let’s take Nike’s strategy as a starting point.
Try to understand what people actually like about your brand and what kind of emotions it triggers in them. Building a lifestyle brand is so much more than just trying to explain the features of your product. It’s about getting people to care about your product because of how it makes them feel and what it adds to their life.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
Be unique. A brand is a brand because their product or service is different. Define your target audience and speak to them like you were talking to a friend. Be transparent, trustworthy, and try to understand their needs and expectations.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Being too broad. I think one of the mistakes people make when they start a brand is trying to cater to everyone. What actually matters the most is to have a very small, but strong community of fans. People who love and recognize what you do. They evangelize your brand and give real (sometimes harsh) feedback that helps you improve your product and understand your market.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Do it! Start small at first and ask tons of questions. Find your target audience. Get your product in the hands of real people and ask for their feedback. Refine your process and do it again. It can be a lot of work, but this is how you get it right. Nowadays, your branding, aesthetic, visuals, and community building are super important and should be worked on from day one.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1 — Seek out your vision and mission
Find your how and why. It’s very important to know why you are doing this and how you’re gonna do it. From day one, we knew that we wanted to create a different brand. That the home decor space needed a fresh, exciting brand and a new, cool product. Admittedly, the concept was very abstract at first. Now we know from all the feedback we are getting, and the way our product is perceived, that we need to work hard to make sure everyone can have a bit of yellowpop joy on their wall.
2 -Build a community that loves what you do
Be as close as possible to your community, your followers, your clients. Speak to them. Ask for feedback. At yellowpop, our priority has always been customer happiness. Our Trustpilot reviews are, and will always be, the most important KPI to us. If a customer has a problem with their order (and occasionally, they do), make it right as fast as you can. Be proactive. Be problem solvers.
3 — Create a strong brand Identity
Be bold. Be recognizable. Your tone of voice, your colors, your visuals — everything should be on-brand in order to stay top of mind in a world full of diversions. Be the fun diversion. From the packaging to the dimmer that adjusts the brightness of the sign, everything at yellowpop is branded. We love when people send us photos of a yellowpop package waiting on their doorstep. Even your unboxing should be an extension of the brand.
4 — Never compromise quality
We are entering an era where people want to buy consciously. People care about the quality and the fact that your product will last. At yellowpop, our products are handcrafted with the highest quality materials. Each of our signs is tested for 48 hours to make sure that they work flawlessly. Quality is part of the user experience, and that’s something we care about a lot.
5 — Champion diversity and open-mindedness
From France to San Francisco, our team is full of people with unique and diverse perspectives. We love that. Working remotely can have its challenges, but there is so much to gain. We’re constantly learning from one another and learning to see the world through another’s eyes. At the end of the day, business is about people, and creative, collaborative teams make a business thrive. Create a company culture of acceptance, open-mindedness, and listening, and great ideas will flow.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think now, more than ever (if you aren’t tired of that phrase), the world needs more joy. Does the world need more neon signs? Yes (if you ask us). Yellowpop is a movement that makes space for joy. Neon is fun. It’s engaging. And it’s cheaper than therapy. If we could put a neon sign in every home, we know we’d be delivering a lot of smiles. I guess that’s our neon dream — to keep spreading smiles.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
To bring it back to Nike, I’d love to sit down with Phil Knight. I think it’s important to learn from other entrepreneurs, why not learn from the best? I mean, the brand is so ingrained in society and pop culture, it’s not even a brand anymore. It’s an institution. What an opportunity it would be to meet the man behind the greatest brand of all time (#fanboy).
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.