Shark Tank Star Daymond John Says This Is the Biggest Branding Mistake of All

By Kim Lachance Shandrow | Small Business

Today’s top-selling brands have their mantras down cold. For Apple, it’s “Think different.” Nike has “Just Do It.” And FUBU asserts “For Us By Us.” Each iconic slogan is short, simple and easy to digest. That’s precisely what makes them so memorable.

If you want people to just do it and buy your brand, Shark Tank celebrity investor Daymond John says you’d better be able to distill its essence down to two to five words. If you can’t, you’re guilty of committing the most common and detrimental branding mistake he sees: “Not having a definitive understanding of your brand and what it stands for.”

Related: The Stars of Shark Tank on How to Dress for Success

John should know. The millionaire marketing and men’s apparel mogul, and Shark Tank’s resident branding expert, had a big hand in designing his FUBU fashion line’s distinctive, graffiti-like original logo.     

The edgy, urban flavor and personality of John’s first sportswear brand -- which launched in 1992 after three failed attempts and was popularized by veteran rappers like LL Cool J and the late Notorious B.I.G., then rebranded in 2010 as FB Legacy -- stands for so much more than a basic, letters-only logo captures. It is John’s response to mainstream fashion’s failure to serve “inner city kids who really loved hip-hop,” a major demographic that he says the industry was completely neglecting.

Related: Shark Tank's Daymond John on Lessons From His Worst Mistakes

“We [John and his FUBU co-founders Carlton Brown, J. Alexander Martin and Keith Perrin] knew what we were about and what we came to do,” John recently told Entrepreneur.com on the set of the popular startup pitch reality show. “We were really laser focused on what FUBU stood for. For Us By Us. It became our brand mantra. If you can’t describe your company in two to five words like that, you leave it up to others to interpret and your brand suffers.”

Fellow Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary told Entrepreneur.com that consistency is just as important as boiling your brand down to an unforgettable, roll-off-the-tongue slogan.

Related: Shark Tank's Daymond John on Thinking Big

“Your message has to remain the same,” he said. “It can’t change all the time, because branding is a long game. Once you start down that path, you stay with it and you defend it and you grow with it and you define it by being consistent. That’s what branding’s about.”

You can watch both branding-savvy Sharks put emerging brands (and the entrepreneurs pitching them) through the ringer check on Season Six of Shark Tank, which premieres this Friday, Sept. 26 from 8 to 10 p.m. ET/PT on your local ABC station.

Related: Your Brand's Positioning Should Rest on the 1 Thing You Do Best

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