Every small brand dreams of playing the field with the big dogs. But living in the times of the Charlie Sheens and the Kardashians, it's no wonder there is so much disillusionment for small brands trying to make an honest buck when only the rich and corrupt need apply.
Most brands want to take their marketing cues from the behemoths, but chances are they probably started branding long before the inception of social media, or they have big-dollar budgets to work with. So copying their business plan won't work.
Instead, take some lessons from DIY brands that have claimed their stake in this competitive branding game. You may be surprised what you can learn from independent rap artists and social media kings like Nicki Minaj, MC Hammer, and Soulja Boy, who have transformed their dreams and humble beginnings into large-scale brands, even becoming household names. They did it without a marketing team, and during a time when all odds were against them. All they had was a dream, a computer, the internet, and a microphone in hand.
One thing consumers all want is to be able to relate to the persona behind the brand. It doesn't matter if it's Charmin or the latest Lady Gaga track. You have to connect with their needs and wants by being emotionally in-tune. Rap music has always had an amazing crossover ability to be blinged out and yet still rooted in the hood. Moreover, rap music has even inspired many well-to-do suburban kids and adults into coveting a ghetto pass into hip-hop culture, which is humorously illustrated with the character Michael Bolton, a white-collar worker, getting gangsta in the film "Office Space."
Once the emotional connection is made, fans will actually pay $300 -- even if it's their last dollar -- for a Jay-Z ticket because they have an emotional connection with him and his brand. Fans are even willing to go the extra mile to re-tweet Lil Wayne's free download track to all their Twitter followers, which may not make him a dollar, but it certainly proves loyalty and engagement.