How to Better Your Brand? Be Oprah.

By James Williams in Direct Marketing on October 28th, 2015

Last week, Forbes magazine reported that Oprah Winfrey (the media mogul, philanthropist and certified boss) elicited nearly $700M in capital investment for Weight Watchers International. This followed an announcement that she has agreed to purchase a 10% stake in the company and promote its services.

That’s major.

Untitled-1Image courtesy of Stanford Business

Winfrey was able to draw this level of investment based on the strength of her name. And while we’ll have to wait to see whether the investors see a return on their money, the return on Oprah’s brand is clear: people trust Oprah, they believe in her—so much so that they’re willing to put their money behind her—and for that reason her stamp of approval is worth its weight in gold.  

Oprah’s success is every brand’s dream and certainly there are many brands living it; however, it only takes a casual flip through any business magazine to know many of our most iconic brands are struggling. Why?

Branding is a continuous exercise of putting your best foot forward and many brands get complacent.

Here are 5 tips to help prevent this from happening to your brand.


"If I lost control of the business, I'd lose myself—or at least the ability to be myself. Owning myself is a way to be myself." – Oprah Winfrey

The key to any successful brand is knowing exactly what it is—and isn’t. McDonalds is not Burger King and Apple is not Microsoft. The brands are entirely different from one another, right down to the way each brand communicates to its audience. Fully understanding and owning the personality of your brand, your brand promise and the emotional benefits of your brand will help you navigate murky waters when times get rough.


"Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment." – Oprah Winfrey

Never lose sight of the competition. The key to maintaining (or gaining) a competitive advantage is knowing exactly where your brand stacks up against the rest. At the start of Oprah’s career (and later, as she solidified her position as leader of the pack), this was paramount. What value are you offering the market? How are you any different than your competitors? What is unique about you and how can you capitalize on it? Is there any opportunity to best your competition in a way that will increase the value of your brand and resonate with your target (and prospect) audience?

In other words, as was the case in the early 90s, in a world of Phil Donahues and Sally Jessy Raphaels—how can you be Oprah?

Holistic Branding

"The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance—and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning." – Oprah Winfrey

The experience customers have with your brand should be holistic. Tenets of your brand should permeate your organization right down to the receptionist who answers your phones. Oprah’s success is due, in part, to the relationships she has built over the years and the emotional connection people have to the brand she has established. Everything from her magazine and television show to now her OWN network communicate the same message: Oprah’s trustworthy and, ultimately, she wants you to be a better you. Who wouldn’t want to invest in that?


"Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe." – Oprah Winfrey

Your brand strategy should be comprehensive and consider both your long-term and short-term objectives. Oprah may not have always known that she would one day be a media mogul, but I can bet she aspired to one day be much more than a daytime television host. Begin with the end in mind and consider how your brand might evolve over time. Oprah did this by establishing a position from which she could grow, going from a local television anchor to who we know her as today while still retaining her core and a familiarity that resonates with all who follow her.


"We can't become what we need to be by remaining what we are." – Oprah Winfrey

Few people have done this better than Oprah, who today is considered as much a thought leader and wellness guru as a savvy businesswoman. She’s applied this same mentality to her OWN network, fine-tuning programming with the flux of viewership.

Build upon your success. Constantly re-evaluate your brand. Measure its effectiveness and optimize whenever possible. Brands, not unlike people, evolve over time and carefully refining your brand as it evolves will ensure you are always in-step with the market and, most important, your consumer.

Partnering with an agency that can help you develop your brand and strategize to ensure your brand’s experience translates across platforms is always a great (and profitable ) idea. Looking for a new partner to better your brand? Contact our experts.

Looking for a new partner to better your brand? Contact our experts.

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