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Once upon a time, successful brands rose to prominence through celebrity endorsements and million-dollar budgets. Within the last decade, creator brands have proven that success can blossom from well-watered digital personas.
Content creators have a clear path to stardom these days. Some creators have made appearances at star-studded events including the Met Gala. Others have scored major roles in movies and TV series.
As doors continue to open for creators, big corporations and world-famous celebrities are adapting their marketing strategies. House names like Rihanna and Google have blended their own influence with the power of influencer marketing to amplify brand recognition.
Fortunately for creators across all platforms, influencers can take their pick from potential revenue streams. Whether they’re partnering with existing brands to sell merchandise, courses, creator apps, and more, influencers have ample opportunities to flourish economically.
Some creators are pushing the boundaries of success even further. By establishing their very own brands, these trend-setters laid a solid foundation and inspired other creator brands to rise up beside them.
Find out more about how influencer marketing is flooding the advertising world here.
Why creator brands are on the rise
Anyone can create a brand. What sets a creator brand apart from others is the personal touch of a passionate creator combined with the buying power of an existing, loyal audience.
How have influencers managed to convert their success on social media into profits for their brands? The answer is not complicated. Content creators are tapping into well-established global markets having mastered a marketing strategy that many brands have yet to explore.
What creator brands have that most other brands do not:
- Ease of connectivity: as each creator has their own unique personality, each creator brand has its own unique community of loyal fans and followers. Consumers want to connect with brands on a personal level, and influencers are adept at making those personal connections.
- Influencer marketing advantage: According to one report by Statista, the influencer marketing industry was valued at above $13B in 2021. Influencers who create their own brands have already amassed a community of potential customers to support their brands before they launch.
- Gen-Z favorability: there are plenty of brands run by passionate founders, but content creators have a special Generation Z, who utilize social media more and for a wider variety of purposes compared to previous generations.
While brands of all sizes are teaming up with content creators to boost their social media presence, creator brands have a genuine foot in the door. Let’s take a look at a few creator brands that have paved the way.
For more insight into influencer marketing trends and statistics, read our 2021 Influencer Marketing Industry report here.
Keys to creator brands’ success
There are countless creators making a name for themselves across every social media platform. Many have thrived on brand collaborations and custom merchandise, but a few have ventured further into creating their own brand and business from scratch.
Some creator brands have become so successful that they offer a blueprint to the success of others. We’ve identified a few key traits that have made these brands successful.
Passion for the products
The daughter of Iraqi immigrants, Huda Kattan began developing her own beauty products from her home as a hobby. Encouraged by her sister to sell her first product, false eyelashes, in 2013 Kattan began growing what would become a successful beauty brand fueled by her blog readership.
Huda Beauty began with Kattan’s beauty blog and has since grown into a thriving business worth around $400M, and the content creator turned beauty mogul has since expanded into skincare with her new line, Wishful. What’s her secret? Kattan told Fast Company that she is motivated by passion first.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m so happy I have people around me who are motivated by money because they’ll make sure that we make money,” Kattan said. “But if it was up to me, I just love giving away product…. You spread beauty. We’re always focused on that. That’s ultimately our goal.”
Passion is a common thread that knits successful creator brands together. Not only are these creators passionate about the products they create, but they enter the business world with a consumer’s mindset.
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Knowledge of the customers
“I feel like God has given me so many beauty dilemmas so I can help people,” Kattan told Fast Company in 2018, emphasizing the value of her own instincts in product development for her brand.
The same could be said for well-known YouTuber and entrepreneur Jackie Aina, who launched her luxury candle brand, Forvr Mood, with a clear mission: to encourage Black women to pamper themselves.
A Nigerian-born U.S. Army veteran, Aina’s struggle with hypohidrosis — a condition that causes excessive sweating — led to her love for quality fragrances. From her personal interest, she birthed a line of budget-friendly, luxury-quality candles marketed directly to Black women with luxurious taste.
Within just the first four hours of its launch in August 2020, Forvr Mood had sold $700K worth of product, according to one report, and had gleaned more than $6M in revenue by July 2021. In the wake of her success, Aina aims to expand her brand beyond the realm of home fragrance.
— FORVR MOOD (@Forvrmood) July 8, 2022
Aina told Beauty Inc in 2021 that her focus when developing the company was to create a brand which could stand alone, without the power of her own name and image. “The candles, in my opinion, sell themselves,” she said, adding, “If you didn’t know the founder of the brand, would you still believe in the product? I would like to think people would.”
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Connecting with customers
One more commonality among successful creator brands is a laser focus on building trust and connecting with consumers on a personal level. Aina and Kattan have each utilized their individual experiences to relate to consumers.
Chamberlain Coffee, created by YouTuber Emma Chamberlain, is another great example of a creator brand that has seen success where passion meets quality marketing. With more than 11M subscribers on YouTube, the content creator partnered with Bixby Roasting Co. and Steeped Coffee to produce her custom caffeine fix.
Featuring organic beans, Chamberlain coffee comes in pouches similar to tea bags, that can be added to water. The brand focuses on reducing waste, sustainably sourcing ingredients, and delivering directly to consumers.
Coffee has been a centerpiece of Chamberlain’s persona as an influencer, so the creation of her brand seemed natural from the beginning. Natural brand evolution aside, Chamberlain has dedicated much time and effort to sourcing her products and developing the right branding strategy since her company launched.
Today, Chamberlain Coffee offers whole bean bags, steep bags, and a variety of coffee-related accessories like reusable straws, which align with the founders’ mission of providing sustainable products. On the brand’s website, Chamberlain is quoted describing coffee as “more than a drink.”
“It’s a way to connect. It’s a way to share moments,” Chamberlain states. “Ever since I was probably way too young to be drinking it, coffee has been a huge part of my life and routine. So much so that I want to share it with the world. But done in a way that I feel is right.”
Creator brands to watch right now
Now that the social proof is out there, more and more influencers and content creators are aiming at their own target audiences. Look out for a variety of creator brands in the years to come.
For now, here’s a short list of some promising creator brands you can follow and support today:
- Addison Rae’s Item Beauty launched in the summer of 2020. While the influencer pursues a variety of endeavors, including her second acting appearance in a feature-length film, Rae is making a mark in the clean beauty arena. Plus, as one of Forbes’ highest-earning TikTok stars in 2022, her name alone carries enough weight to turn heads.
- Hyram Yarbro launched his skincare brand, Selfless by Hyram, in partnership with charitable organizations Thirst Project and Rainforest Trust. With more than 1.1M followers on Instagram, Hyram is a leading influencer in the realm of men’s skincare. The unisex, philanthropic skincare brand is one of the first drops in a flood of men’s skincare creator brands to come.
- MrBeast Burger is a revolutionary virtual restaurant concept, launched in 2020, named for its creator Jimmy Donaldson aka MrBeast. The YouTuber with more than 98.4M subscribers is known for his wild stunts and charitable giveaways. MrBeast Burger is a delivery-only restaurant brand that allows restaurants to prepare and sell the branded food from their existing kitchens as an additional, low-impact revenue stream.
Want to know more about how Addison Rae and other TikTokers slayed at the Met Gala? Read all the details here.
A future full of content creators
The ever-evolving nature of technology continues to spin our world in new directions. As the global economy adapts to the impact of influencer marketing, up-and-coming creators and centuries-old brands may find themselves competing for many of the same customers.
One thing is certain: creator brands are another shining example of how the creator economy has made the unthinkable completely plausible for people of various ages and backgrounds. An influencer is a power, that fact hasn’t changed much. However, the ease with which any given individual might attain that influence is a game-changer for many.
Collectively, brands and consumers alike ought to keep an eye on content creators and the untold number of creator brands that are sure to crop up within the decade.