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Kylie Jenner’s makeup sold $420 million in 18 months with minimal advertising beyond her Instagram posts. Her lip kits and eyeshadow palettes, at one point, retailed for $27 and $42 respectively. At a street fair on Long Island teen girls were falling over themselves to buy the stuff. The police showed up after a while, arrested some entrepreneurial boys hawking the cosmetics, all of which turned out to all be fake. The teens didn’t seem to care.

Kylie got some game. Kylie has a brand. Just ask my SnapChat stock, which lost mega value when she dinged the platform after it updated the interface.

If you are not Kylie Jenner and there is not pent up demand for anything and everything you touch, you need a brand strategy. In fact, in 15 years when Kylie isn’t hot (commercially), she may rue the fact she didn’t establish an organizing principle for her brand. Kids!

Creating brands out of people is hard. Creating brands for companies and products is easy. Claim and proof is the fasted, most enduring way.
If you are interested in some success stories and examples, write


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When a latent adult working at McCann-Erickson NY, I was lieutenant in charge of all the AT&T data products. These were the data lines, the network software services and whatever other B2B things that were not particularly sexy — during a very competitive time when phone companies were spending like drunken sailors. My services eventually became the internet so I had a grand time. And managed a great team.

Anyway, I had this idea that if ever the agency president (John Dooner) was asked to go to a meeting in Bridgewater NJ on some of these non-big sexy products (sorry Bartolo) he would need a primer. So the Fact Book was born. The idea was to put all the relevant facts into a binder that could be read in 60 minutes (on the way to the client), giving the reader a foundation of knowledge, e.g., overall market universe, market share, competition, product explanations, YOY sales trends and futures. I stole the idea from Marian Harper, a McCann and IPG CEO, from back in the 60s.

At What’s The Idea?, my current business, a key deliverable is the marketing plan. The first step in its development is a document called the 24 Question. It is much like the Fact Book. Anyone, at any company, in the marketing department should know the answers to the 24 Questions. They are the financial and marketing fundamentals of business. If you don’t know the answers as a marketer, you are a danger to the company.

If you are interested in seeing these questions, email me And we’ll talk.


PS. Go see Steve Jobs.


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Here’s a little parable about using the right tool. Our cellar door is held secure by a Master Lock. The Master Lock keys are kept in the key cabinet and have been for decades. Last weekend they were not. So I looked for my hacksaw to do what any able bodied homeowner would do (argh argh argh) and began ripping. And ripping. After a few minutes I hadn’t even come close to marring the hardened steel. WTF.

So I used the web. Logging on to I asked around the neighborhood if anyone had a bolt cutter. No hits after two days. I went to Ace Hardware, where they had two sizes of bolt cutter, the larger of the two priced at a reasonable $39 dollars. I chose to not invest. At home I emailed a friend in construction who came over with is pair. I snipped that lock like butter. Guns of Navarone!

The point of the parable? The right tool can be a crazy time saver. Most small, mid-size and B2B companies do not have brand strategies. They have logos. Ad campaigns. Website “About” sections. They may even have brands. But they don’t have an organizing principle that governs product, messaging and experience. A brand strategy is a fundamental tool. It help marketing cut though challenges like butter.

For examples of successful brand strategies, please write me (Steve Poppe) at


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