An Interview With Vicky Colas
Be everywhere! It’s common knowledge but NOT common practice to have your lifestyle brand seen everywhere your customers are consuming content. We all do it. We navigate seamlessly throughout our day from TV to our phones to our laptops/desktops even on the radio and back again consuming information and entertainment at all times of the day and night. But there are myths that say TV is too expensive, digital/social is the only place to be and who even listens to radio. You can never take for granted where your customers are throughout their day and where they are in their buying cycle.
Aspart of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Kerry, Co-Founder and Executive Creative Director of Script to Screen, a leading DRTV/video marketing agency.
He and his wife Barbara founded the nation’s most successful privately held direct to consumer performance agency over 30 years ago that has created extremely successful D2C campaigns for start-ups to the biggest brands in the world.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
With a background in television, I was drawn to advertising and paving my own path. My wife and I started our own business wanting to create our own product to sell but in turn built a very successful company helping others build their businesses selling their own products and dreams.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of the funniest and important lessons I learned early in my career was having patience. As a young production assailant for ABC Sports, one of my assignments was to guard the portable bathrooms that are used on exterior locations. During a LIVE sporting event the announcer would need to use the facilities during commercial breaks. My job was to guard the bathroom so no one would go in and occupy it. The bathroom had to always be available so the announcers would not get delayed. I’m happy to say never on my watch was an announcer delayed. The lesson I learned was patience, because by being patient and waiting for my turn to the next job opportunity I also had the opportunity to meet very famous and influential broadcasters that became pivotal in my growth in the business.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There are two books that made a huge impact on me as a person and as a businessman. The first is the “Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk and “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek.
What resonated with me so much was how I changed my opinions and perceptions on how I would serve my clients and how I could be open to new ideas for my personal and family life.
3 years ago, I started to implement how I would share my expertise to the world through social media and the internet — The exact ways Gary shares in his book and how he built his personal brand and business. By following his advice, it has changed our presence in the world of advertising as thought leaders and the preeminent experts in our business. Though I’m early in my journey to build this reputation, I can only see a positive upward trend and growing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Never ask another to do what you wouldn’t do yourself.” This quote and life lesson has been foundational as a leader and as a person. I feel that this humility has allowed me to gain respect from others and peers and most importantly gives others the confidence that I have their back. It’s a wonderful position to be in when you are trusted and dependable.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
A lifestyle brand is a brand that attempts to embody or communicate the values, interests and aspirations of a group/their customers for marketing purposes. The brand strives to inspire and motivate its customers with their products/services to enhance their way of life. A lifestyle brand is a brand that one stands behind, incorporates into their life and is proud to be associated with. A “typical” brand is more like a commodity. Although people can be loyal because of quality they can easily be moved to another by price or availability. Lululemon Athletica in my opinion is a lifestyle brand the people will pay more for, show off that they are wearing it and will talk about it to others as well as feel that by wearing it, it actually improves their performance. On the other hand ,HANES is a “typical” brand that also makes athletic wear, but is more driven by price than by desire to own.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty. In addition, a well-positioned lifestyle brand has earned the enviable position of community where they can actually get feedback/suggestions on products/services that better serve their loyal customers.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
APPLE to me is the ultimate example of a beloved Lifestyle Brand. What impresses me most is that APPLE inspires its customers to be creative, innovative and reject the status quo — other companies talk features, features, features and price. Apple inspires you to do and be more while charging a premium. Replicating this devotion can be done by communicating your strong differentiator aspects to your product that motivates you to be better by simply using their product. Nobody just wants to just get by…we all want to strive.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
As a consumer, I want a product/brand to assist me in being better, believing I can accomplish more and enjoy the effects of that experience. With this goal in mind, I would spend my precious time communicating WHY my product is different and better than what’s readily available. HOW will this particular feature improve my current experience, and SHARE those experiences to new and potential customers. I believe too many companies spend time trying to convince people with features, urgency and price. Although all very important, if you are trying to sway me with the same things others are promising, then you become more noise in the market. The most effective way to create a frenzy of enthusiasm about a product or service is to let your happy customers do it for you. That’s sticky!!!! When you “the company” tell me how great you and your products are I get suspicious. You want to motivate; NOT create more questions.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
A huge mistake I commonly see is when a company says…”Just like” or “Comparable to”. You are either BETTER or you are NOT! Another big mistake is to follow a successful competitor by adapting/copying a slogan, brand colors or how they speak to their customers. I my opinion, in order to stake your place in your market you need to have your own voice, your own opinions and your own strategy of how you will attract and embrace your customers in your particular space.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
I would strongly recommend identifying the white space in a particular market sector. That is CLEARLY what other successful Lifestyle brands have done, you just didn’t realize it. Red Bull
didn’t invent highly caffeinated drinks. They made you feel you could do more, be more and accomplish more by drinking their product. That’s precisely why they have firmly implanted themselves as THE action sport beverage. That in turn has transcended into everyday activities where people seek out the product to gain an edge. They are NOT looking for more caffeine,
they are looking to be a better version of themselves. I would also research what people and what their current customers are saying about the competition in the area you are looking to
enter. By spending the time understanding the pain points customers are experiencing and developing new/different ways to solve them, you can find that white space that is critical to a
successful brand. Finally, I would suggest that go in this process with an open mind and NOT what you hope to find. It’s too easy to hope to see what you want to see. We all fall in love with our products because we believe they can solve what your customers are desiring. They quite possibly can do that and more but be ABSOLUTELY sure.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Find the white space.For many years, vacuum companies have been touting bagless, bagless, bagless because it was new technology and not necessarily a better cleaning solution for the consumer. By doing this, they dismissed the effectiveness of a bag in a vacuum. We recently introduced KENMORE back into the home appliance market with a new bagged vacuum called the intuition, see getkenmore.com for details. The white space we created was that a BAGGED vacuum was superior to a bagless vacuum, specifically such as in capacity and suction power. We were able to highlight how and why these two benefits made your home cleaning experience better. We proved KENMORE Intuition made you a more efficient and smarter homeowner.
By doing this, the campaign has experienced tremendous success and has confirmed our white space position with an incredible 80% conversion rate of customers subscribing to a bagged vacuum being better than a bagless vacuum.
- More is not always better.Just because you have more features and stuff does not mean your potential customer can absorb it all. Pick one, MAYBE two, and make them the solution to your consumers’ problems. BLINK Home Monitoring Systems came to us to introduce a new home camera monitoring system into a very crowded market. With iconic brands like BRINKS, ADP and CENTURY security firmly implanted, BLINK needed to stand out.
Our main goal was to focus on how BLINK made it EXTREMELY easy to install and have multiple “WIRELESS” cameras to view your home at any time 24/7 365. (see buyblinktoday.com) By using this “EASY, I CAN DO IT” strategy, we were able stay away from features, features, features (as the MAIN communication) and confusing potential customers with too many things to think about that would only make us another voice of sameness. By making it EASY, we were able to make record direct sales, drive retails sales and sales on Amazon all at the same time while changing the traditional thinking that you need a big company, long term contracts and complicated wires and installation.
- Motivate don’t dictate!We have ALWAYS strived to inspire consumers, not tell them what to do and think.
Les Mills is the largest group fitness company in the world that launched an online APP for all its classes in 2020. We were challenged to break through the cluttered sea of online fitness competitors that were offering a ”workout harder”, “workout longer” message and focusing on a very specific market. If we were to be successful, we had to broaden our market by inspiring new fitness folks as well as the veteran fitness market. We focused on how their programs will make you stronger, fitter and have a better outlook on life. With this message, we were able to increase their monthly downloads significantly — so much so that the original spot has aired in multiple countries for over a year and a half.
- Be everywhere! It’s common knowledge but NOT common practice to have your lifestyle brand seen everywhere your customers are consuming content. We all do it. We navigate seamlessly throughout our day from TV to our phones to our laptops/desktops even on the radio and back again consuming information and entertainment at all times of the day and night. But there are myths that say TV is too expensive, digital/social is the only place to be and who even listens to radio. You can never take for granted where your customers are throughout their day and where they are in their buying cycle.
The Iconic 100 year old brand HOOVER launched an omni channel DTC campaign in 2018 and has been running extremely successfully since. A major part of how we were able help them be so successful with a wonderful product was that the message we created was employed on TV, Digital/Social and OTT simultaneously. We knew the main customer was extremely busy and she navigated her entire day on different devices. Because we knew this ahead of time, we made actionable content for every channel along with sophisticated tracking and attribution tools that told us and showed us that she was served our message multiple times in different day parts. It’s this strategy that keeps to top of mind and ready to do business when they are.
- Listen first, listen again…then act! How many times do we feel so sure that we know what our potential customers want? I understand it’s all with the best intentions. Nobody is trying to purposely jam a message down another’s throat until they swallow it or in this case act on it. Marketers and brands get so excited to tell the world their point of view that sometimes it gets ignored because the customer does not always see it the way you do. We ALWAYS recommend being humble and ask first before you act. Sometimes a very small nuance in how you speak to your customers may have a slight variation in how you want to communicate, but the outcome ends up being much more successful.
One of the biggest fears during weather events is the possibility of losing your power for several days. If you have been through an event like that you understand. It’s NOT fun and it’s potentially extremely dangerous, yet when we were conceiving advertising ideas for GENERAC, the country’s largest stand by generator business, we asked questions, listened in on phone calls and de-briefed Generac customers after their purchase and after many years in service. We did this because we wanted to find the one common denominator with the largest sector of the market. Through this process, we learned that people didn’t really care to much how the unit worked, didn’t care really care how big the unit was or where it would go on their property. What they wanted to be assured of was that they would never be without power during a natural disaster for any amount of time. While everything else mentioned above was a consideration, the #1 reason by far was that they wanted to always have protection for their families. So instead of selling fear, controls, gadgets and payment plans, we focused on security and peace of mind for you and your family. Without expensive research firms, precious time and internal opinions, we just ASKED! And when we did, not only were we surprised the same reasons came up over, but we were also surprised that price was not a barrier for one’s families protection.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I have always believed that whatever you do in life…HAVE ENTHUSIASM, have a DREAM and attach it to a GOAL! It’s the recipe for success for whatever you do. So, the movement is to believe anything is possible with the right foundation — not just a wish or hope. Hope is not a plan.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Spending private time with Gary Vaynerchuk would be an absolute honor for me. Ten years ago, I picked up a book he wrote at a VERY small gathering of people at a bookstore in Los Angeles. The book he wrote, “The Thank You Economy.” and his philosophy changed the course of my business and absolutely invigorated my enthusiasm for what I do and the knowledge I can share. He allowed me to open my mind to an entirely new way of thinking and progressing as a businessman and person. He also made it clear to me that sharing my years of experience and expertise to the world not only will serve others immensely, but it would also come back to serve me.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
About The Interviewer: Vicky Colas, Chef Vicky, is an award-winning chef in the Caribbean food arena. In 2012, Chef Vicky was awarded a silver medal for Caribbean Chef of The Year at the Taste of the Islands completion hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. She was called to represent her country and be a part of the Culinary Team Haiti as a Culinary Chef Ambassador competing with 10 other Caribbean nations. The team was also awarded a silver medal for the Caribbean Team of the Year and received an Award for “Best Team for Taste of the Islands”. A published nutrition researcher, her study was selected in 2013 in the International Journal of Child Nutrition. Her recipe and interview have been featured in Essence Magazine online, Island Origin, and most recently the cookbook Toques in Black: A Celebration of 101 Black Chefs in America. In 2019, she was nominated in the “40 under 40” class of Legacy Magazine as one of South Florida’s “Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow”.
Most recently, Chef Vicky was selected as one of twenty women candidates awarded for the 2019 James Beard Foundation Women Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) fellowship and is also part of a selective group of talented Chefs in the James Beard Foundation local food advocacy training programs. She is a wife, a proud mother of 3 boys, a business, and a food influencer in her community. Chef Vicky has been featured in her local news stations such as WSVN CH 7, Deco Drive, WPLG Local 10 News, 6 on the mix CH 6 and Good Morning Miramar.
Vicky is also a subject matter expert in the Hospitality, Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management, and Public Health (Dietetics and Nutrition) arena. She is a graduate of Florida International University (FIU) and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.