Focus on social good: Today, as our society is coming to terms with issues of racial and health injustice, viable brands must focus on goals beyond themselves. Since we launched our firm, we have made a commitment to help all of our clients pursue and share work in the social good space. When you show what you care about and how you are making the world better, you’ll establish yourself as a values-driven brand, consumers will respond and you and your employees will feel good while doing it.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Beth Doane, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Main & Rose, a global creative agency. With nearly a decade of experience creating, growing, and selling several companies by the age of 30, today Beth serves as a trusted advisor for some of the world’s most innovative CEOs, nonprofits, and governments. Previous to founding Main & Rose, Beth established one of the first sustainably and ethically produced fashion brands on the market, as well as founded and later led the private acquisition of Parlor, the first open marketplace for freelancers in a diverse set of industries. Beth also speaks frequently about branding, social impact and the importance of mental health initiatives in the workplace.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always had a passion for how products and companies can create a positive impact on a global scale, and I founded my first company when I was 22 years old. It was one of the first fashion lines that was manufactured sustainably and launched at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles. The success of the line led me to consult for several brands on how to make their lines more sustainable. My love for consulting and creative thinking eventually led me to start advising more on branding, marketing and design, and I launched an agency. I eventually met Kelly Gibbons, my business partner a few years later and we created Main & Rose together.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
While it’s nice to be able to learn (and survive) from past mistakes, rather than being funny memories, my mistakes have helped guide my decision-making. They continually serve as powerful reminders of how much I’ve learned as a business owner and leader. Among the mistakes, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars from failing to do enough market research. Today, this lesson helps me see where my clients may take a wrong turn, and steer them away from the same mistake I had once made. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that when people have an idea, they go full-steam ahead and invest too much money into something without testing the idea or investing in a GTM strategy. It’s too easy to think something may work, and then lose everything along the way. My advice is market test, A/B test, get advisors, hire experts, and don’t invest a fortune. Leaving room and capital for mistakes is key to success.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At Main & Rose, we believe that we are the design firm of the future. What sets us apart is that we’re intention-oriented and committed to working with impact-driven brands that truly make a difference in the world. We believe that commitment to diversity, inclusion and change starts internally, and we take great pride in being women-founded and women-led, with communities of color and LGBTQ people represented at our highest ranks. With offices around the globe, including in the Middle East where we have a strong female presence, we’re dedicated to building a team that is strengthened by our strong workplace culture, top management, and values-based brand.
I’m proud to say that Main & Rose is an award-winning global creative marketing agency that works with some of the leading brands and non-profits around the world, from the United Nations to YouTube and Disney. We run multinational branding, design and marketing campaigns that are values-based and evidence-driven, striking the balance between cutting-edge and time-tested, to harness the power of data and beauty of storytelling to shape and share a narrative that always puts our clients above the competition.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We’re working on several exciting projects. Recently, our team was hired to design and launch a rebrand for Oceana, a stunning luxury hotel in California and the first Hilton LXR property in the United States. As a company, one of the industries we specialize in is the travel, real estate, and hospitality sector and we’re proud to take the lead on campaigns and initiatives that will help drive the evolution of the industry forward.
We also focus on governments and emerging global markets, and have a strong presence across the MENA region. We recently partnered with the United Nations to raise awareness around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in support of the UN Agenda 2030. As we work to mobilize a new force of activists that’s largely focused on GenZ, we’re creating shareable grassroots campaigns to drive unprecedented change and measurable impact in the world.
Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
Brand marketing tells us the story, the mission, the underlying values of a brand, while product marketing should tell us what something is. Think about Nike, and its tagline “Just Do It.”and the iconic swoosh symbol. It’s brand marketing enables us to instantly recognize all Nike products because it’s constant. What makes it impactful is that the swoosh and tagline have remained the same, while promoting the company’s underlying mission around innovation and inspiration.
Yet, every year we see Nike release new products. Advertising and marketing enable Nike to continually change and evolve its products without having to change its original branding and mission.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. If done right, it can take years and may involve a large amount of investment in advertising, marketing, and design. While people often hear about a start-up company that “took off” over night or went viral, it’s important to know that that’s usually a one-in-a-million story. To establish a recognizable brand, it’s going to take time and investment. The reality is that any brand is going to have to compete with competitors that can spend millions of dollars more on marketing and advertising. To stand out, you’re going to have to realize the importance of strategically planning, building, and launching a campaign that helps you tell your story and sustain your brand.
Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.
1. Tell Your Brand Story Well: Most agencies and companies make a fatal mistake by focusing on new products and services, rather than the story behind the person making those products or services. My philosophy is based on the truth that humans have a natural urge to connect with people and want to share powerful stories. To build a trusted and authentic brand, focus on having a strong, relatable identity and brand story that resonates.
2. Focus on social good: Today, as our society is coming to terms with issues of racial and health injustice, viable brands must focus on goals beyond themselves. Since we launched our firm, we have made a commitment to help all of our clients pursue and share work in the social good space. When you show what you care about and how you are making the world better, you’ll establish yourself as a values-driven brand, consumers will respond and you and your employees will feel good while doing it.
3. Balance Timeless & Trendy: One of the toughest challenges for both new and old brands is figuring out how to offer a service or product that is trendy and current, but also feels classic and enduring. I advise my clients to study trends without copying them, which risks coming off as inauthentic, and is the quickest way to cause issues. I urge clients to find a balance between timeless values (reliability, creativity, honesty, service, e.g.) and more modern methods of branding (social media, video content, earned media, e.g.).
4. Create Communities: Brands are strengthened by having many enduring ties across customers and audiences. I encourage my clients to not only foster traditional relationships with their target audiences, but to also create communities centered around their personal brand, and a shared ethos or lifestyle. Create social media environments where your followers can interact and share their stories, or go offline and organize hikes, dinners, or retreats for your customers and your team. The point is to offer something more than just a product or a service — and in doing so, you can gain a major marketing advantage.
5. Be inclusive: For years, we have been saying that inclusion is the new golden rule of branding. Gender equality, diversity, and inclusion are not only morally important, they are also absolutely imperative to your brand if you want to succeed. Modern customers prize these values: regardless of what industry or market you’re in, any business leader who wants their company to be able to compete and thrive in the modern era needs to embrace the values of equality and inclusion. 21st-century clients and customers overwhelmingly consider these to be non-negotiables, particularly millennials, who grew up with a greater appreciation for diversity and tolerance. Inclusive brands will help your company tap into new markets and tend to financially outperform their less diverse counterparts, especially because they lead to better, faster, and more innovative thinking.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
There are so many unique brands that I have fallen in love with over the years. Some are smaller brands like Ila products, Aromatherapy Associates, TKEES, and Opal + Sage who I think have all done a beautiful job with their products, brand story, and more and have a loyal customer base which really speaks to their success.
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
Advertising and branding go hand-in-hand, and sales also capture the success of branding. Like advertising, with any branding campaign, we can measure impressions, and base measurable impact on how a person views a branded campaign. Perception plays a huge role in the success of branding campaigns, and can impact loyalty, trust, and ultimately, the survival of a company.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social media plays a massive role in our branding efforts and understanding its value is key to our clients’ success. Many agencies today don’t understand how to use social media or how true creativity plays such a role for it to really “work.” The key is not simply consistency or even posting nice images, but rather, knowing your audience, it’s interests, and how to engage them. At Main & Rose, our clients count on us to advise and execute their social media and digital marketing strategies. Whether that means creating plans or posting daily, just as we do with creating a branded campaign, we prioritize strategic and creative thinking in order to truly understand a brand and its target.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Thriving and burnout go hand-in-hand with mental health, which is something that’s personally close to my heart. Discussing my own experiences with mental health and the support systems I created has helped my team and business relationships grow. A challenge with working remotely that many organizations are facing today is identifying and managing the balance between work and home life. It can be very easy for the lines between personal/professional lives to blur and to create an expectation of being “always on” for your team, which leads to burnout quickly. As a leader, you set the tone for the rest of the team — so it’s important to be intentional about 1) setting appropriate expectations among the team that they aren’t expected to be dedicated their lives to working around the clock and 2) walking the talk and leading by example. If I am intentional about prioritizing my mental health and that of my team, they’ll follow that lead.
At Main & Rose, as a fully distributed and remote team due to the nature of our work, we’ve cultivated a transparent, open, and communicative culture that helps team members be seen and heard during challenging times — whether it’s about a personal or business matter. Several of our team members, including me, cite meditation as a key practice for success when it comes to taking a break. This break allows us to “turn-off” the noise, and thrive in our own controlled environment. In fact, many studies have proven meditation can increase productivity and even empathy. Taking time to practice wellness that can help relieve burnout can be as simple as taking a 20 minute walk every afternoon, or making time for an evening run or virtual yoga class. You’ll be happier, healthier, and have an easier time filtering out the chaos and finding the spark of inspiration you need to succeed during this challenging time.
You are a person of great influence. 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. 🙂
Luckily, the work I do each day involves building movements. Our clients are some of the most recognizable and impactful brands in the world. We’re honored to work with brands like The United Nations and TED and help build movements that drive monumental change, help spread innovative ideas, and inspire and impact millions of people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
There are so many people I would love to meet and who greatly inspire me. I’d love to sit down with Michelle Obama, Marc Benioff, and Rose Marcario, former CEO of Patagonia.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I encourage you to follow everything Main & Rose is doing by visiting our website and our Twitter page.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethdoane/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.