EM360 Digital Blog

26 Aug 2016
Kanye West Detroit Pop Up store at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights, Michigan

What SMB’s Can Learn From Kanye West’s Detroit Pop-up Shop

If you haven’t heard of the out­spo­ken Chica­go raised record­ing artist and fash­ion mogul know as Kanye West, may I ask you where you’ve been since 2000? He is found almost every­where, in main­stream media to retail and is always trend­ing from tabloids to blogs.  Maybe you are not that into main­stream hype and like many maybe you find his antics to be a tad annoy­ing. It’s fair to say many either love him or hate him with lit­tle to no room in between. Let me tell you this isn’t anoth­er puff piece on the career of the ego­tis­tic artist that calls him­self Yeezus.  With all that being said— Here are a few rea­sons why you may want to stop and pay atten­tion to what Yeezy’s entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it has taught us about busi­ness.

Big Career; Lit­tle Para­graph

Pablo Tour Kick Off , Bankers Life Fieldhouse Indianapolis
Kayne West peform­ing at Pablo Tour , Bankers Life Field House, Indi­anapo­lis 8/26/2016

Sure every­thing he seems to have touched since the ear­ly 2000’s has turned to gold but it has not always been so easy

for West. Dur­ing the last track “last Call” off of his break­out album “The Col­lege Dropout” he shares how he wasn’t tak­en seri­ous in hip hop. A music scene that Enter­tain­ment Week­ly described as “still dom­i­nat­ed by authen­tic­i­ty bat­tles and gangs­ta pos­tur­ing”. As he broke through he was an instant trend­set­ter in the hip-hop fash­ion world, wear­ing Ralph Lau­ren Polo and a Louis Vuit­ton back­pack full of demos as opposed to sports jersey’s and ban­danas.  He con­tin­ues to set trends musi­cal­ly and in fash­ion and the only thing that has changed is that he is mar­ried to a Kar­dashi­an, two lit­tle girls and he beefs with Tay­lor Swift.

The Entre­pre­neur

Like many before him and as ear­ly as Run DMC, Kanye’s record­ing career and fash­ion influ­ence spawned endorse­ments and busi­ness ven­tures. What sep­a­rates him from those artists of the past, he is well beyond the usu­al 15 min­utes of busi­ness fame. To high­light, since 2004 he has found­ed his own record label, start­ed cre­ative com­pa­nies, opened restau­rants, is co-own­er of a music stream­ing ser­vice, and col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nike and Louis Vuit­ton to design his own footwear. More recent­ly, he signed a long-term cloth­ing con­tract with Adi­das and won sneak­er of the year hon­ors in 2015.  Alright, don’t most celebri­ties get rich and keep get­ting rich­er? Sure, and you might also be ready to leave this arti­cle because you’re ask­ing how does him mak­ing all this cheese relate to me? Now that I’ve laid a back­ground, I’ll tell you.

Kanye West is Every­thing I AM

Recall when I explained he was out of his league in hip hop back in 2000. He was dif­fer­ent; many doubt­ed, but he had dri­ve and he had a vital tal­ent in the music indus­try.  He pro­duced a sound that made hit record after hit record, so much that he became an acclaimed solo artist, a fash­ion icon and has become one of the most influ­en­tial peo­ple in the world accord­ing to TIME. See the sim­i­lar­i­ties in his dream and yours? Did you notice it didn’t hap­pen overnight? He hus­tled, and grind­ed to use a few overused busi­ness buzz­words. Noth­ing mat­tered to him except get­ting his mom a com­fort­able life, mak­ing it big and silenc­ing the naysay­ers. You have an idea, a prod­uct or ser­vice and just like him, you are will­ing to sac­ri­fice it all to be suc­cess­ful. Now that we found the com­mon denom­i­na­tor and how he’s an inspi­ra­tion to entre­pre­neurs and mar­keters let’s break down his POWER—branding, and how you can obtain some.

Brand­ing on 100, Thou­sand, Tril­lion

Since the 2011 release of Watch the Throne his col­lab­o­ra­tive album with Jay Z , Kanye has been known to open sur­prise pop-up retail stores. The first in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo and most recent­ly in Ster­ling Heights Michi­gan, a Metro-Detroit sub­urb. What’s the secret to his suc­cess? No pro­mo­tion, no trendy loca­tion, yet peo­ple in droves are flock­ing to these tem­po­rary stores  wait­ing days to get a chance to buy $325 jack­ets among oth­er items.  Sim­ple, he invest­ed in brand­ing him­self and now he’s par­tak­ing in the fruits of his labor. This blue­print can work for any busi­ness.

The build it and they will come or let’s skip brand­ing alto­geth­er mod­els typ­i­cal­ly do not work these days. You have to put your­self out there, take risks using social chan­nels such as Snapchat and Insta­gram, find ways to lever­age vet­er­an chan­nels such as Twit­ter and Youtube.  Gone are the days where you open a store­front and watch the mon­ey pile up. If you’re in the food indus­try you’re com­pet­ing with $5 piz­zas and $1 menu items. If you’re in the auto indus­try, most of the cars with­in a seg­ment are mere­ly the same. Fur­ther­more, most ver­ti­cals have intense com­pe­ti­tion where it isn’t afford­able to com­pete with the adver­tis­ing bud­gets of big play­ers. Does that stop you? Did the pop­u­lar­i­ty of 50 Cent scare away an emerg­ing Kanye West? No. He knew he was the next big thing. Like Kanye, you believe you have a prod­uct or ser­vice that’s bet­ter than the com­pe­ti­tion and you will stop at noth­ing to get it out there to the mass­es and make them want it. It’s not easy but you have to con­sis­tent­ly pro­mote your com­pa­ny. Become a prac­ti­tion­er of emerg­ing ways to reach your audi­ence. Here’s a brand­ing break­down:

Bonus: Brand­ing Break­down

Need more clar­i­ty? Entrepreneur.com shared this exclu­sive pock­et guide on build­ing your brand:

  • Cre­ate a mod­ern web­site
  • Write an excep­tion­al bio
  • Set up social media han­dles
  • Show­case your company’s per­sona along with inter­ests of your team.
  • Blog or video record sto­ries about your com­pa­ny through the years
  • Share your con­tent on net­works with pre-exist­ing audi­ences like Quo­ra and Medi­um.
  • Net­work and talk to peo­ple in your indus­try as well. Com­ment on and share their con­tent.
  • Always improve your con­tent by eval­u­at­ing the con­tent of oth­er com­pa­nies
  • Share your suc­cess­es. Use small wins to get big­ger wins.

If you’re doing busi­ness in this 21st Cen­tu­ry, to quote the great Kanye West, you bet­ter be “doing some­thing mean to it, bet­ter than any­body you ever seen do it” and com­mit to brand­ing. At the end of the day you’ll be killing it.  No short­cuts or cheat codes just do the work.

Pho­tos: Mike Sington’s Twitter/Complex’s Twit­ter, Edward Pevos/Mlive




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