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Rebranding lessons from Jessica Simpson and her empire

If we were to make a wild bet, it would be that you probably haven’t heard about Jessica Simpson in a while – let alone her rebranding. Yet, right now, she’s one of the most successful women in the world, with her company raking in over 1 billion in sales annually.

See, The Jessica Simpson Collection was founded in 2006 and is carried in almost 700 department stores in the US. In fact, it’s the first celebrity-owned clothing line in history to reach 1 billion in sales – so how did Jessica execute one of the best rebranding strategies in the world to get here?

In this post, you’ll find out exactly what made her so successful – and how to use it in your own business.

Jessica Simpson’s 9-Step Rebranding Process

  1. Consistent image. The harsh reality is that Jessica used to be a running joke in the media ever since her reality show aired, and she was very aware of it. She made a very important choice – instead of choosing to undergo a full rebranding to make people forget all about her then current image, she used it to her advantage. Jessica entered an era where she purposefully made no excuses – she stayed exactly as she was – same hair color, same style, same attitude, and turned it into a powerhouse brand by being unapologetically herself.
  2. Clear differentiation. Jessica makes it a point to remind her audience that her products are about comfort, not just fashion. She constantly reminds us about how women love her products because they don’t destroy their feet or hurt their bodies in order for them to look beautiful.
  3. In-depth understanding of the target market. Instead of marketing to a certain demographic as most fashion brands do, Jess chose to market to a worldview. By setting affordable prices, she chose the widest market with the most consumers in it, but still set clear boundaries. She knew they were sick of staring at anorexic models on major fashion magazines and not even being able to afford a sleeve from the dresses they wear. She understood there are masses of women who would never give up their comfort to look like a model, and that’s the market she went after.
  4. Massive focus on research. A 2009 documentary shows how Jessica dedicated a lot of her time to go on a world tour to explore different standards of beauty, which made her understand her target market even better. How much time did you take to do proper research into their behaviours, dreams, desires, setbacks, worldview?
  5. No desire to be a trendsetter. Jessica is in it for the long run – instead of being super fashion-forward, she chooses for her brand to be relatable and affordable. She knows that trends come and go and it’s exhausting and expensive for a brand to constantly chase them. The truth is, you can still be in the spotlight by creating products/services/designs that will appeal to people for a longer time.
  6. Co-creation power. Jessica purposefully chose not to become the skinny version of herself people pushed her to be. By admitting she’s been every size there is, she became extremely relatable and connected to both teenagers and women over 40, who now make up her target market She even pointed out that choosing not to become anorexic has been great for branding, because when you’re that skinny, not every woman can relate to you. The way she looks right now, is an image the majority of women in the world can relate to.
  7. Clear brand enemy. Every powerful brand has a clearly-identified brand enemy. For Jessica’s brand, that’s impossible beauty standards and anorexic-looking women. She creates fashion for all sizes and that’s accentuated everywhere in her positioning.
  8. Cashing in on perceived flaws. While most people focused on making fun of her when she was pregnant and put on a lot of weight, she used her weight gain as a way to cash in on even more brand loyalty and dolla dolla bills. In fact, Jessica launched a maternity line at the time and that increased her fortune by 100 million in the first year.
  9. Multiple brand extensions. She has over 24 products including shoes, clothes, jewellery and perfume. One of her motos is that there’s no reason to stick to selling just one thing – what’s important is to start with one product, solidify its positioning, and then expand.

Jessica’s brand has surpassed her name and celebrity status and can now exist fully without her – and that’s exactly what we mean when we tell our clients: don’t be afraid to build your business around your personal brand. If you play your cards right and hire a professional to guide you, you can absolutely scale it and sell it one day.

Jess had 2 choices with her brand: make it premium-looking, expensive, position it as the top choice on the market for women who desperately need to feel better about themselves and dying to fit in a size 0…

…or go the unpopular way and focus on comfort and empowerment at mid-market pricing. Her branding team must have been fast to point out that her own brand was anything but “premium” and that her best bet was using her relatability and imperfect presence. They clearly made the right choice.

The brilliance of her brand is that she understands it can’t only be about her and people wanting to be her. She’s only an element of the brand – so she made it about the consumer instead. That’s a key decision we always discuss with our clients: do you want people to want to be you or simply look up to you? There’s a difference and you need to know what you can pull off.

Now tell us, what’s the most valuable lesson you’re taking away from this post?

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