Purpose Led: We all have our whys and a cause close to our heart. Understand it, define it, embed it in what you do and communicate it through your brand. For example, I always wanted to touch lives. In the field of beauty and fitness, one can spread happiness and empowerment through our craft and the giving back can have another layer by extending help to others through skills or financial support. Purpose is key to defining a brand’s identity.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Demee Koch, founder of the conscious beauty brand DE MOI, and Board Advisor & brand consultant for the fitness equipment brand SPARBAR.
Multi-preneur Demee Koch combines her two passions: developing & marketing products of substance and championing important causes. She is looking back on a career in the beauty industry spanning over two decades. As a sought after speaker, guest author and commentator on the subject of conscious beauty, she strongly advocates healthy beauty, inclusivity and empowerment. Recognized and honored with awards as one of the most influential Filipinas in the world, Demee uses her influence to give back. Demee is on the Board of Advisors of the boxing brand SPARBAR, which quickly became a viral hit, spearheading their social activities. She also supports various other charities working to improve the lives of others. Demee made Switzerland her home base after finishing her MBA studies in International Marketing at the Swiss Business School in Zurich.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
This is a big question for me, since I grew up in a small town on an island in the Philippines, where life is modest. Basically at one point in my early adult life I decided to swap flip flops for real shoes, and stepped out into the world. I started out in the luxury beauty industry in Dubai, with the knowledge I had about the extensive beauty services offered in my home country. Then I did my MBA in Switzerland, and started operating multiple businesses from there on. There will be a book released about the whole story in 2021.
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?
We were looking into launching beauty treatments for men, and we actually wanted to call a treatment “face job”, since we assumed men love terms that sound technical. Fortunately, we didn’t go through with it, because we realized that it was way to mislead, having a sexual connotation. Teaches you to always get third parties’ feedback when coming up with marketing ideas after a long brainstorming session!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The brands I create, and the brands I am involved in as a consultant or Board Advisor need to have authenticity, integrity, rebellion and confidence at their forefront.
In this highly modernized world, I choose to do certain things in traditional ways. For example, I would rather work with a small or a mom & pop manufacturer who truly believes in my brand than with the giant ones. I focus on working with real and honest testimonials, and never use the traditional advertising or social media campaign approach. I build relationships and my reputation as a person of integrity to have real influencers and key opinion people actually proudly promote my brand. We are often asked for free products by influencers who wants to promote our products, but we politely turn them down. We also have a no discount or sale approach because our products are ethically priced under fair manufacturing processes.
For my brand DE MOI, we created our niche within the beauty industry. We put ourselves forward as thought leaders on conscious beauty, and advocate on diversity and communities.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, multiple ones! The common denominator is that it has to have a significant social impact. I closed a deal for an exclusive manufacturing for Sparbar, and also started creating a production place for DE MOI in the Philippines. This will be supported by local community funding and training, so not only jobs are created, but people have the chance for development. Furthermore, DE MOI is in talks with the social enterprise Two Good Australia that focuses on empowering women who were victims of domestic abuse. For Sparbar, I will be spearheading the foundation that focuses on empowerment through sports and education globally.
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 is focused more on creating awareness, educating people on what your brand is all about and what it stands for. It is like creating an entity, a brand persona. The aim is to have a certain identity to gain respect and loyalty from your target market.
Product marketing is product centric and sales driven. The focus here is to showcase the product attributes (i.e. how it was made, ingredients, results and process) to generate sales.
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 means building a sustainable business with loyal customers. It is the foundation of your company. In the world of a highly competitive global game, having a strong brand is key to standing out and gaining customer loyalty efficiently. The general marketing and advertising alone is a short lived approach and more expensive financially and effort wise. Gaining new clients is more expensive than retaining loyal clients.
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.
- Purpose Led: We all have our whys and a cause close to our heart. Understand it, define it, embed it in what you do and communicate it through your brand. For example, I always wanted to touch lives. In the field of beauty and fitness, one can spread happiness and empowerment through our craft and the giving back can have another layer by extending help to others through skills or financial support. Purpose is key to defining a brand’s identity.
- Passion: Purpose and passion are intertwined. Passion evokes emotions and captivates attention. Passion will help build your credibility because with passion, not only you will walk the talk, you will always be more than willing to walk the extra miles. For example, I am so passionate about my brand that I never get tired explaining what we stand for and I personally stand behind it. I am always patiently answering even the most simplest questions during unholy hours when I can. People see my passion this way.
- Integrity: Always deliver a promise or a claim. No sugar coating. Integrity will make your brand gain respect and loyalty. Don’t use the social aspects as marketing tools, e.g. using the social angle of natural or organic ingredients, cruelty free development, or charity to gain sales are not an honest approach. Fortunately, consumers nowadays look closer into brands. Whatever you are selling, you must ensure that this particular product or service delivers results and maximizes the value for your clients. Also pricing a product that is packaged nicely, but has low quality inside is a no go.
- Authenticity: Get inspired, but do not copy others. Make sure that you create a unique value for your brand. We can channel our uniqueness in our brand. To be successful nowadays, you do not need to create something totally new, but you can build on what is available.
- Competition: Cooperate with your competitors. Use them as a motivation to do better. Compete ethically and fairly. If you want to stand out, highlight your USP, and let the clients do the rest. After all, the market is big, we can all share it. Avoid at all cost a price war, no one wins in this game.
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?
Sparbar is an impressive example of a brand built organically, by its community. Despite the very humble beginning, limited resources, and a very tough and unforgiving industry, the brand has managed to amass a strong global fan base (300 millions views and growing at a few hundred dollars social media advertising) and have inspired A-list celebrities and all the top MMA personalities to personally promote and rave about it, for free!
The most impressive part is that it attracts global talents to help build the brand stronger and the moment the founder talks about the vision and the youth support the brand provides, it immediately captivates people into wanting to be part of it.
Using the strategy I gave above will help replicate it.
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?
The numbers are definitely a clear indicator of a brand’s success, but it cannot be about numbers in the start where you build your client base. The first few clear indicators of a branding campaign success are measured by the kind of employees you attract, the companies that want to collaborate with the brand, and the number of people who champion it. Becoming a point of reference in thought leadership is another indicator.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social media gives you access to the global stage to channel your story; what your brand is all about, what it stands for and to show evidence of your claims. There you can build on your audience and attract your target market.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
You are your greatest key to your success. Be purpose led. Practice self-care; listen to your body, “try” to keep a healthy lifestyle by eating well and doing some exercise, celebrate little wins / milestones, meditate, practice gratitude and kindness, give back (ideally from a place of overflow so you can give generously without limits), make time for loved ones, and during bad times be your own friend. Remember that you work to live and not live to work, and that each day you have is the best day you will ever have.
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. 🙂
This would be a movement of conscious entrepreneurship. I want every entrepreneur out there to care, to give back. After all, being an entrepreneur is a privilege. Therefore, I would like to inspire a new entrepreneurship, where founders make charity and community activities part of their business plan. It would need to be something they are truly passionate about, so the efforts will be continued. Just imagine, you would not only work hard for growing revenues and profit, but you would work hard because you know the cause of your choice will be supported through your efforts.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“No mud no lotus.” The lotus is a beautiful flower, but without mud it could not grow. I use this saying as a constant reminder that to actually bloom you need to go through process of hard work and overcoming challenges (the mud). This process should be appreciated, because it is the way to the reward (the lotus).
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. 🙂
Please schedule a lunch for me with Deepak Chopra! He is an inspiring source to me on the topics of consciousness, the human experience and connection. I enjoy his views on life, and his teachings on on the law of abundance.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Find DE MOI on Instagram @demoi.swiss and Sparbar @sparbarboxing.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.