What’s your favorite brand? Have you ever thought about it?
Personally, when I find a brand that I love, I essentially become a brand ambassador for it – I’m telling everyone! Have you heard about Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness? Have you ever sipped a Rhinegeist on a Sunday afternoon (Bubbles, anyone??)? Do you shop the sales at Old Navy? No? WELL LET ME TELL YOU WHY IT’S AMAZE. That’s me. Walking, talking infomercial.
But only when I LOVE it.
So what constitutes a good brand? Here are my personal metrics:
- The Messaging. Did you bring me into the narrative instead of just trying to sell me something? I’m sold. Give me a back story and a solid mission statement and I’m on board. Philanthropic elements are a bonus. Customization/personalization of products even more so.
- Loyalty. And by loyalty I mean to the customer, and by that I basically mean customer fucking service. If you are loyal to me, I will DEFINITELY remain loyal to you. Loyalty programs? Custom coupons? Frequent buyer apps? I’m in.
- Design. I mean come on, I’m an artist. Of course I care about this. Attention to detail is everything. If you’ve got some really sexy packaging, I might even save that shit for… absolutely no reason other than it’s beautiful. Weird? Maybe just a little. But I’ve definitely used Lush shopping bags for Christmas gifting before, #itsart.
- End Game. What problem is the brand solving for me? I’m definitely a form over function kind of girl, but if the product/service is all form and no function (except for purely decorative elements, which, arguably ARE functioning), Bye Felicia!
Ultimately, a great brand needs to meet a variety of criteria, especially for those in my generation (oh yes, the Millennials!) and Gen Z. More specifically, we want to see (and buy into) authenticity and thought leadership. Screw mass appeal. We want a personalized experience. EXPERIENCE being the operative word here.
So who qualifies? From clothing to food, tech to specialty goodies and more… here are – in not particular order – my top ten favorite brands and why I love them! Enjoy.
- Amazon. I’m sure there are folks out there who have yet to jump on the Amazon bandwagon – some of my family members included – but IMHO, Amazon is the shit! Aside from the fact that they’ve breached a TRILLION dollar market cap, they’re doing a lot of things right. End game, they’re solving a lot for me. Aside from the free-two-day-shipping, and the binge worthy originals from Amazon Prime, I know that I can find just about anything I could possibly want and/or need on Amazon – brand name, not brand name, new, used, borrowed, or shipped all the way from China. I’ve found bathing suits for my juicy booty when other retailers failed me, I’ve purchased countless books in both physical copy and for my Kindle, I’ve even ordered food from Amazon Pantry. Their customer service is killing it. Their message is about making my life easier. And they deliver (pun intended), every. single. time.
- Costco Wholesale. If you’re not a Costco member, stop what you’re doing, and hook yourself up! Aside from an extremely large selection of wholesale food and grocery products, Costco slays: electronics, jewelry, furniture, Christmas decorations, health and beauty, beer and wine, appliances, vacations, my allergy meds… the list goes on. And all at a wholesale, discount price for the member! (In addition to other membership bonus – yes, queen!) On top of that – They treat their employees like actual assets, instead of “human capital”. I’ve known a few folks who’ve worked here and all I hear is “killer wages”, “excellent benefits”, “actual maternity leave.” Their customer service is outstanding, and despite my need for form and design – they don’t even use packaging. But thanks for caring about the environment, there’s that solid mission I love so much. #GoGreen
- Old Navy. Remember those sale racks I mentioned? Even when something isn’t on sale at Old Navy, it’s affordable, and I’m on the financial struggle bus y’all, so you know I’m serious. But affordability isn’t the whole story. Old Navy is the only place where I can fit ALLL of this ass “in dem jeans” (and pants), without pinching and grabbing in all of the wrong places. They run sizes from double-zero to like 24, and XS to XXXL, AND they run large. This might not be a bonus for some, but it is definitely a bonus for me. There is so much variety, and yet they still carry the most basic pieces that compliment and complete almost any wardrobe. I mean, if you’re trying to look Avant-Garde, don’t go to Old Navy. But if you like strong customer service, shopping incentives, a shit load of sales, good fabric, cute prints, and lots of options – this is the store for you.
- May Designs. Do you like specialty products? I do. May Designs is no exception. Started by a lovely gal named Mica May, May Designs specializes in selling designer prints on customizable notebooks and stationary! AND they’ve recently branched out to put their prints on tumblers, phone cases, skirts, and small bags (all customizable) – and honestly, I can’t wait to see what they do next! Almost all of their prints come from collaborations with other artists such as Emily Ley, Britt Bass Turner, and Studio Calico – just to name a few. The price point is high but not too high, the packaging is cute, and they even have a philanthropic piece to their mission: raising awareness and sending proceeds to The Littlest Warrior, a foundation focused on support for kids and parents of kids with Down Syndrome. Love it? YES!
- Cyclebar. I told you we were running the gamut didn’t I? Now… I am SO, like sosososoSO, NOT into fitness. I wish I were but I hate sweating, I hate heaving, I hate showering afterwards, all of the extra dirty laundry, the pathetic feeling I get when I can’t keep going… I’ll come up with almost any excuse not to workout… that is, until I met Cyclebar. This is more than just a cycling studio, it is a community. The instructors are more than just trainers, they’re DJ’s, they’re cheerleaders, they’re friends. The classes are 50 minutes of pure, heart-pounding endurance while the freshest beats bump and grind you through to the finish. Cyclebar ACTUALLY gets me excited about working out – because it never feels like a workout! No matter how I feel going in, I ALWAYS feel fierce as hell coming out. They have themed rides, freebies like food, Wine-Down Wednesday and fully equipped showers; they have pop-up shops with excellent vendors and a plethora of bad ass Cyclebar swag. The price point is fair, and best of all – all fitness levels are welcome! Proud member, two.5 years strong.
- Rhinegeist. A trendy little brewery local to Cincinnati, that sells a very large range of craft beer. They have an awesome location downtown with easy and cheap valet parking, and are one of the best locations around town for meetings, wedding receptions, workshops or a great night out! They are also utilizing some killer design tactics with their logo, packaging and swag and most importantly of all – their beer! At this point they’ve got over 150 brews from ciders to stouts to IPAs and so much more. The problem they’re solving for me? What kind of 6-pack am I buying this Friday night? Rhinegeist Bubbles? SOLD.
- Riot Games. Much like the name suggests, Riot is the producer of a game. And not just any game – League of Legends – an increasingly popular, FREE online game that blends the high intensity of real time strategy with the unique art and lore elements of role playing. The game is pretty simple… five real players, versus five real players, in a time-less match to destroy the other teams’ Nexus. There are hundreds of Champions to choose from, all of which come with their own backstory, a variety of “skins” (to change the appearance of said Champion), and their own special set of skills. Choose your Champion wisely and enter the Summoners Rift with four other players to annihilate or be annihilated! I am a true nerd of all things fantasy, and I would venture to say that next to Zelda and World of Warcraft, this is one of my favorite video games of all time. I’m no pro – but it doesn’t matter! They’re always updating their content, producing new content and improving the game at every level. Intrigued? Give it a go! You won’t be disappointed.
- IKEA. I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA, but I’m putting them on my brands to love list for three reasons, (1) Amazing designs, (2) Extremely Affordable, (3) Variety. The only reason I have to hate IKEA is that it’s always busy as hell and their store layout is… panic inducing. Instead of being able to flow easily from one part of the story to another, you’re forced to walk a relatively specific path through all of it – and with SO many people (moving at a glacial pace), I’m usually ready to punch someone in the face by the time I leave. But then when I get home with my cute little desk chair, my new plants or my fancy throw pillows and I’ve forgotten all about the lady with the screaming baby in the middle of the bedroom section, and I’m grateful that they have a brick and mortar presence in my town at all. I’ve gotten a lot of pieces for my home and studio from IKEA, and I just love the variety! Plus, they probably have the cheapest, cutest kitchen items you’re ever going to find! You do have to put a lot of things together yourself, but if I’m being honest, with a Type-A personality, this just makes me feel productive and accomplished for the day. Annnd now I’m planning my next trip to IKEA…
- Work Bigger. Seeing as I play a small, voluntary role as an actual Brand Ambassador for this growing company and online community, there was no question about adding them to my favorite brand list! Work Bigger exists to challenge the status quo, and redefine the meaning of work. I find myself so deeply connected to their mission – which is why I have become so involved with them in the first place. From a blog to a program to a community, Work Bigger’s goal is to support women by giving them the tools, resources and support necessary to transform their career transition experience from one that’s demoralizing and stressful to one that’s empowering and bad ass! It wasn’t until I participated in the program myself that I truly fell in love with what Work Bigger was all about. After said experience I went from feeling lost and forgotten, to having clarity and confidence about where I’m going with my career, and what I’m doing with my life. AND, I now have the inner compass, the tools, and the support of the community to help get me there. There is nothing else like this out there, especially for women, and I plan to continue supporting this group well into the future!
- Barnes and Noble. Last, but certainly not least, I’m going to throw some serious props at Barnes and Noble. In a dominantly digital age, they are probably one of the last brick and mortar book stores in existence, and they’re still doing the most! Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I really love hard copy books, and by extension, book stores. The smell when you walk in, the shelves lined with knowledge, mystery, laughs, fantasy… I find myself stopping by the Barnes and Noble near my office pretty often, just to grab a coffee and read (Book of the Moment: “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson – HIGHLY, highly recommend) on my lunch break. Barnes and Noble offers more than books, they offer an experience and a customer loyalty program and overall, I am never disappointed.
So there you have it! My favorites.
This was actually pretty fun for me – so stay tuned for more lists of the like!
I can and will definitely produce a most HATED brands list, and I’m already thinking about luxury brands, obscure brands, homebrew brands… there is a treasure trove here, and I can’t wait to dig in!
Until next time,