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Many influencers never get a taste of stardom, but for the exceptional few that do, their horizons extend past mere content creation. With industry recognition and a reliable fanbase, popular creators and superstars can launch independent influencer brands to support themselves and speak to their fans, with the hopes of finding a place beyond their own community in mainstream media. However, cracking into the consumer market, while lucrative and ambitious, is no easy task.
What is an influencer brand?
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Arguably the most distinct influencer resource is a dedicated fanbase. Unlike businesses serving a more general audience, creators rely on the consistent support of loyal followers and draw from personal engagement with a select group. This quality makes them effective marketers for brands that want access to these tight-knit communities.
However, many influencers aspire for something more individualistic: to construct a personal image free from contracts and control. To pursue this independence and support themselves on the side, some creators commit to starting influencer brands.
With a variety of product lines and services, influencer brands, like the creators who lead them, come from a diverse range of industries. Some of mainstream media’s largest names – including Michelle Phan, Kylie Jenner, and MrBeast – have found success appealing to their fanbase through personal niches such as beauty products or food lines.
You can read more about today’s top creator-owned brands here.
An Influencer Image
Independently-owned brands allow influencers to express themselves with full creative direction, and it is only natural that their business draws from their content and lifestyle. In this sense, influencer brands, with signature apparel and certified products, become synonymous with the influencers themselves.
This connection appeals to fans looking for parasocial relationships. Purchasing a creator’s merchandise seems less transactional and more personal and supportive than buying off the general market. By selling this innate experience along with a product, creators interact with dedicated followers and expand their community while also building their presence in the consumer industry.
Similarly, a brand’s success often speaks for an influencer’s capabilities and can give way to greater opportunities. With a solid foundation of repeat customers, a creator demonstrates their relevance in media and reach. Even influencers without much mainstream attention, such as micro influencers, can gain insight from experiencing the process of starting a brand, enhancing their performance in professional situations and increasing their value to industry leaders as brand marketers.
Considering these developments, experimenting with influencer brands does not isolate an influencer from future partnerships. Rather, it can unlock their potential and open doors to career growth as a brand marketer.
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Starting an Influencer Brand
Starting an influencer brand takes more than courage. Aside from the pressure of a risky investment, influencers often don’t have the certifications or resources to compete with mainstream fashion houses long-term and must rely instead on the loyalty of their followers and consistent growth for sustainability. Essentially, a creator’s relevance in media and the survival of their influencer brand often go hand-in-hand.
Fortunately, influencers begin with the upper hand: due to having established relationships with consumers already, influencers can appeal to their followers for positive initial traction, boosting their profile faster than a standard startup.
Full creative direction allows influencers to launch products catered exactly to fan expectations without any external interference. Proper conception and promotion of an influencer brand can ensure positive reception, strengthening a creator’s reputation within their community.
However, starting an influencer brand is more than just projecting to an audience. When creators launch brands independently, they compete with the entire market in their industry, where having a committed fanbase will only get them so far. Once an influencer makes the decision to cross over to commerce and brand their merchandise, they must also take on the responsibilities of marketing and management to compete with established companies with consistent history.
To boost performance, creators must take on a myriad of responsibilities and work smarter to overcome competition.
|Advantages of Starting a Creator Brand||Challenges of Starting a Creator Brand|
|Dedicated Community||High-cost Investment|
|Creative Control and Niche Industry||Lack of Existing Operations|
|Influencer Marketing and Status||Intense Competition|
See more creator-owned brands and how to partner with these entrepreneurs here.
Future of Influencer Brands
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While influencer brands may enjoy explosive popularity at first, sustainability becomes an issue down the line as new trends shift the attention of the media. These brands also reflect the influencer’s reputation: even small upsets in public image have harrowing effects on the brand’s success. With standards this volatile, it can be hard for creators to see a reliable future for the investment of a brand, not to mention the intense dedication starting a business entails.
However, while the challenges of maintaining a brand can seem discouraging, influencers can keep engagement high and overcome poor performance by evaluating their place in the market.
To develop an influencer brand, creators must be aware of more than just the intricacies of their content material. They should also understand their target demographic and popular media. Learning to adapt the niche of their content to the expectations of their audience will allow influencer brands to integrate into the fast pace of the consumer market.
By anticipating the future, influencers can ensure that their brands continue to gain traction and reach a wider population. With consistent growth and a greater diversity of interests, there are more options for potential content. At this point, creators can expand their niche and pioneer different industries to discover what best appeals to their audience.
Three things influencers can do to keep their brands relevant:
- study and understand industry trends
- maintain promotional content, including consumer engagement
- cater product lines to specific demographics
Realistically, considering how rigorous and competitive the market is already, not every influencer brand can find reliable success, even with well-delivered content. However, regardless of profits, influencer brands retain value to creators as experience that can be applied to future projects. Even if initial plans fall through, influencers can rely on the consistent support of their community and continue to rebrand themselves until they find a direction that best fits them.