Building Bigger Brands by the Numbers

Sam DeMastrie

February 22, 2013

Starbucks has 33,759,249 likes on Facebook. Apple has 1,041,658 subscribers on YouTube. Nike has 925,734 followers on Twitter. And by the time you read this, those numbers have already gone up.

It’s not difficult to see why these bigger brand juggernauts garner such a massive following on social media—they’re immense, multinational brands whose messaging extends to nearly every region and nearly every person on the globe.

But what is it that makes these respective brands so successful? Well, it certainly didn’t happen over night. Starbucks opened its first store in 1971. Apple computers released its first model in 1976, and Nike debuted its footwear in 1972. Clearly, the 70s were a good time.

Since those initial reveals, all three companies have become so ubiquitous within popular culture that they have been able to drop the typography from their logos without any apparent loss of recognition—most recently, Starbucks’ beautiful redesign in 2011 celebrating their 40th anniversary.

Of course, successful brands are much more than logos. Brand identities extend from engaging retail environments to high-quality products to, ultimately, loyal consumers. In case you couldn’t tell, “loyal” is the keyword here.

While you may not be up to that level of “megawareness”, there’s no reason your brand should be any less valuable or trustworthy, and there’s no reason your consumers should be any less loyal.

Those of us in the communication industry—design, marketing, or advertising—know that numbers matter. If you’re a right-brained creative producing pretty visuals, there’s probably a left-brained person on your team who tracks analytics, marks progress, and writes up reports. So while your new fledgling startup may seem to be slow amassing social media followers, it’s important to note that even the biggest brands’ humble beginnings began with only a handful of “likes.”

The truth is, if you want your fan base to reach into the millions, you need to act like a brand worthy of those millions of fans. Be honest, adventurous, and smart. Be consistent and true to your message, but also willing to grow and adapt to new markets and technologies.

The message is simple: build a solid brand, and you’ll build solid numbers—slowly but surely.