Home » Articles » Should You Be As Bold As Branson? How Entrepreneurs Promote Their Business Brand

Should You Be As Bold As Branson? How Entrepreneurs Promote Their Business Brand

A new business is nothing without publicity, so getting the brand message out there is vital. So is the way that entrepreneurs go about it.

Being over cautious with PR kind of defeats the object. When promoting their company and their brand, they need to be bold, even outrageous, some marketeers suggest. But how far is too far? Can you be too audacious?

That depends on the entrepreneur.

“The more audacious the better,” says Richard Branson, who has never shied away from doing whatever it takes to promote the Virgin brand.

Right from the start of his business career he learned the value of using himself in advertising.

“It’s a lot cheaper than taking out expensive ads, you are far more likely to attract people’s attention, the press will be more inclined to talk about your products, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun,” he says, unapologetically.

The DIY approach may have been borne out of necessity, as the fledgling Virgin brand had little or no marketing budget, but what quickly emerged was that it was far more effective than conventional PR.

His most outrageous promotion idea, and the closest Virgin came to going too far, he says, was when he abseiled down the Palms Casino Hotel in Las Vegas.


“It was so windy, and at first I refused to jump, but in the end, with the crowds gathered below, I went for it…and smashed straight into the glass, hard. Thankfully, aside from some bruised limbs and pride, I was OK,” recalls Branson.

Daredevil stunts performed by a flamboyant business personality will always create a media splash, not to mention, physical risk. But brand boldness takes many forms.

British entrepreneur Zoe Jackson, who started her performing arts company Living the Dream in 2006, aged just 16, is no stranger to out-of-the-box PR moments, including dressing her entire dance troupe up as giant boobs to promote breast cancer awareness.

“We are prepared to as go as far as possible, as long it is legal, but we would never jeopardise our reputation or staff wellbeing,” says Jackson, whose most audacious promotional campaign began when she dared to pitch the idea of a flash mob to London’s St Pancras International railway station in 2010.

Management loved it, and with only a tiny budget and a pledge to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust, on New Year’s Eve a hundred dancers took the station by storm. The flash mob video became Living The Dream’s signature performance, clocking up over a million hits on YouTube.

The Daring Dutch

Cultural attitudes also influence promotional boldness and creativity. The Dutch, for example, are pretty brazen, possibly borderline inappropriate by US standards, when it comes to getting the brand message out there.

An open government that appreciates creativity as a connecting force for the people and a Dutch natural desire to be naughty helps, says SXSW innovator Daan Roosegaarde, creative director of Studio Roosegaarde.

His studio has developed the technology behind interactive projects such as Smart Highway, which uses hi-tech photoluminescent paint to produce rechargeable, glow-in-the-dark road markings, and The Smog Project, which uses buried copper wires to create an electrostatic field that attracts smog particles; a sort of atmospheric vacuum cleaner.

Both artistic and interactive, Roosegarde’s designs are by definition, daringly self promotional.

“In a world where, technology is jumping out of the computer screen, it is time to update our landscapes. I’m envisioning the world of tomorrow, but building it today,” he says.

In neighbouring Germany, marketing is a much more sober activity, based on traditional ‘push’ rather than ‘pull’ brand strategies. Social media, in particular Twitter, is still in growth, and German advertising is factual rather than creative, and focused on local; local business and local promotions

It is understated and subtle, which has the effect of making German people feel confident and more likely to build trust in a brand, says business coach Agnes Cserhati founder of Bonn-based AC Powercoaching, which works with entrepreneurs from all over Europe.

“It is about creating a desire and attracting interest in something that is unique. If you want to create desire, don’t sell yourself,” she adds.

However, she believes that all entrepreneurs should set their own limit, and in that respect, there is no such thing as ‘too far’. Where that limit sits depends on the type of business you have and the type of entrepreneur you are.

Her own promotional limits are intrinsically tied to her personal brand, ‘share to inspire’, which she does through social media and also through sponsorship of business events.

“The way that you promote your brand has to fit in with your core values and company philosophy,” says Cserhati.

The Luck of the Irish

Some of the most effective campaigns have been built on audacity and sheer good fortune. When Irish entrepreneur Kealan Lennon was promoting his personalised greeting card start up Clever Cards, the prospect of securing some promotional airtime on US television was beyond his means, and his wildest dreams.

Then in mid-2012, the luck of the Irish struck when Lennon discovered that NBC’s Today Show was planning a sixty-second feature on the largest greeting card publisher in the world, Hallmark cards.

He had his design team research the TV presenters, Kathie Lee and Hoda, with Bobby Thomas, and as luck would have it, Bobby Thomas was on her honeymoon, returning on the Monday for this particular show.

“Being a celebrity, photos and other mementos of Bobby’s wedding and honeymoon were online, so we prepared a bunch of personalized printed greeting cards, incorporating those wonderful memories and shipped them to the NBC studio in NY, which blew the producers away,” says Lennon.

On Monday morning, her first day back on the show, Bobby was greeted with the cards, which turned out to be the first printed photos she had actually seen of her wedding.

What was meant to be 60 seconds of Hallmark fame, broadcast right across America on the popular morning show was instead all about a small but brazen start up from Ireland.

Check Also

Youths gear up for Olorisupergal’s New Media Conference 2018

  Digital Media Influencer and blogger Oluwatosin Ajibade popularly known as Olorisupergal is set to host the fourth …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *