What the Spice Girls Teach Us About Brand Purpose

What the Spice Girls Teach Us About Brand Purpose

If you were a young girl growing up in the ’90s, you pretty much had no choice but to love the Spice Girls. They were absolutely EVERYWHERE. If it weren’t for them, I certainly would have had a much harder time making friends on the playground.
I owned the CDs, saw Spice World in theaters, and had school supplies with their faces on them. My only regret is never having seen them in concert. 
But as an adult fan looking back on the Spice Girls’ legacy, I think about what I learned from them. For one, they taught me how to be a good friend because your girls always come first. But secondly, they were the first to teach me about brand purpose… I just didn’t know it yet.

What is a Brand Purpose?

It goes back to what Simon Sinek says in his popular TED Talk and best selling book, Start With Why.  
Your brand purpose should directly answer “Why does this brand exist?”
Sometimes, brands go wrong when drafting their purpose and they make it about them. They think it’s about selling lots of products, boosting their bottom line, or filling the pockets of their C-suite executives. But a brand purpose is never selfish.
It’s not about the things you sell, but about what those things can do for people or the planet. It’s how your brand can make the world a better place. 


Here are some examples of brand purpose: 

  • Crayola: to unleash the originality in every child
  • Southwest: to connect people to what’s important in their lives
  • Dove: to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look
  • Nike: to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world
  • Google: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
You’ll notice a pattern here. When writing a brand purpose, it should always have a powerful verb, because it’s what you do for others. There is an action. In the examples above, we saw verbs like unleash, connect, and help. Simply following this format will strengthen your own brand purpose. 

 ‘Girl Power’ as a Brand Purpose

In their quest for fame and superstardom, the Spice Girls knew they wanted their music and careers to be meaningful. They didn’t approach their work with the goal to sell millions of albums or concert tickets. That may have been part of what they wanted to do, but it wasn’t their WHY. 
Instead, the Spice Girls existed to unify young girls and inspire them with the confidence to do anything. It all started with their well-known mantra, ‘Girl Power’.
Its meaning may seem implied, but when asked about ‘Girl Power’ in 1997, Scary Spice said:
“It’s about spreading a positive vibe, kicking it for the girls… It’s not about picking up guys. We don’t need men to control our life. We control our lives anyway.”
This purpose was consistent in everything they did, including the lyrics to their songs, like Wannabe. Also, in the Spice Girls movie, Ginger Spice scares off a suitor by mentioning the word feminism.
The ethos of ‘Girl Power’ clearly resonated with the Spice Girls’ millions of fans. They sold over 100 million records and topped every major albums chart around the world. It gave their music and work a deeper meaning, which created a deeper connection with their fans. 
Not to mention, the Spice Girls embraced individuality, with each member having their own style and unique personality. This gave their young fans someone to look up to and identify with as they established their own social circles. For what it’s worth, I always loved Ginger Spice.
Their strong brand purpose led to even more Spice mania, with the group being named ‘the most merchandised band in history,’ according to Wikipedia. The article went on to cite a quote from John Mckie of BBC stating that while other stars had used brand endorsements in the past, “the Spice brand was the first to propel the success of the band”.  
The Guardian‘s Sylvia Patterson also wrote of what she called the Spice Girls’ true legacy: “[T]hey were the original pioneers of the band as brand, of pop as a ruthless marketing ruse, of the merchandising and sponsorship deals that have dominated commercial pop ever since.”
Fun fact: The Spice Girls dolls are the best-selling celebrity dolls of all time. 
spice girls dolls in boxes

‘Girl Power’ – From Lyrics to Copywriting

If it weren’t for an ad for an “all female pop act” published on March 4, 1994 in the British newspaper, The Stage, we may not have the Spice Girls. The want-ad called for women ages 18 to 23 with the ability to sing and dance. Over 600 girls responded, 400 auditioned, and only five were selected. 
And then, the Spice Girls’ very own feminist movement began. They started living out their purpose. 
Although your brand may not have lyrics like the Spice Girls do, you still create messaging. You don’t sing to your audience, but you communicate. You are empowered to share a brand purpose.   
The takeaway: make sure your message is rooted in something more meaningful than your brand itself.
#PopChat — December 18

#PopChat — December 18

Our #PopChat discussion this week talked about Perez Hilton, tabloid culture, brand rivalries, fan criticism, tattoos, and reboots.

All questions were based on these pop culture highlights:


#PopChat Questions

Everyone who participates in #PopChat is just brilliant! Below, I’ve compiled a few answers to each question. To view the full chat, check out this Twitter moment!

Q1: Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton was banned from TikTok after posting negative comments on videos from Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, etc. Many young users petitioned to remove him. Are we becoming less tolerant of toxicity on social media? Why or why not?





Q2: How has social media changed tabloid culture and celebrity gossip?





Q3: Christina Aguilera turns 40 today! Yet she is still often compared to Britney Spears. How can people or brands overcome constant comparison and build their own loyal audiences?






Q4: After music artist Lizzo posted videos about a juice cleanse, fans accused her of buying into diet culture and no longer promoting body positivity. When does a fan or customer’s feedback cross a line?





Q5: A new movie trailer for ‘Palmer’ starring Justin Timberlake was just released. Who is another celebrity who successfully pivoted to acting? What makes or breaks this transition?





Q6: Comedian Pete Davidson is supposedly having all of his tattoos removed. Do you consider tattoos part of someone’s personal brand? Why or why not?






Q7: After much anticipation, disappointed Lizzie McGuire fans learned a reboot isn’t happening after all. How should brands handle it when they overpromise and underdeliver?





Did you miss out on #PopChat this week? Join us every Friday at 1 p.m. ET! Follow me on Twitter at @brianne2k.


#PopChat — December 11

#PopChat — December 11

Our #PopChat discussion this week talked about Taylor Swift’s evermore, KFC + Lifetime, Crocs + Post Malone, Selena, TikTok, Tiffany Haddish, and more!

All questions were based on these pop culture highlights:


#PopChat Questions

Everyone who participates in #PopChat is just brilliant! Below, I’ve compiled a few answers to each question. To view the full chat, check out this Twitter moment!

Q1: Taylor Swift surprised her fans with the release of her second album, evermore, last night. It’s her second album in 5 months. When it comes to content creation, what is the difference between consistency vs. volume?







Q2: “Evermore” is considered the sister-album to Taylor Swift’s folklore album. The branding and cover art are similar. How do you determine when to continue a brand story or start a whole new campaign?






Q3: Crocs partnered with rapper Post Malone on their fifth special edition shoe, which sold out. When do you know if a partnership makes sense?






Q4: Lifetime announced an original mini-movie, ‘A Recipe for Seduction’. One of the characters is KFC’s Colonel Sanders, played by Mario Lopez. What should brands keep in mind when playing jokes on their audiences?






Q5: The producer of the 1997 biopic, Selena, is suing Selena’s family over their involvement in the new Netflix bioseries about her life. He claims he “owns the rights to her life story.” As content creators, do you understand his side?






Q6: Musical theater fans on TikTok started a viral trend about the Disney/Pixar film, Ratatouille. Broadway’s production company noticed and is now turning it into a real musical. What is a lesson from this?






Q7: Actress Tiffany Haddish was offered the opportunity to host a GRAMMYs pre-show, but without compensation. She turned it down.

Is working for exposure ever reasonable?






Did you miss out on #PopChat this week? Join us every Friday at 1 p.m. ET! Follow me on Twitter at @brianne2k.


#PopChat — December 4

#PopChat — December 4

Our #PopChat discussion this week talked about brand collaborations, data, brand inconsistency, perfection, and more.

All questions were based on these pop culture highlights:


#PopChat Questions

Everyone who participates in #PopChat is just brilliant! Below, I’ve compiled a few answers to each question. To view the full chat, check out this Twitter moment!

Q1: Speaking of cookies, Lady Gaga is partnering with Oreo for special edition cookies inspired by her Chromatica-album. What is a marketing takeaway from this collaboration?





Q2: In three words, describe what makes #SpotifyWrapped so special. 





Q3: As part of his media strategy, Harry Styles keeps a low profile most of the year. His interviews are sporadic and typically coincide with a big launch. What can be the advantages of inconsistency?





Q4: People magazine released their People of the Year. Who is a celebrity or leader who you feel made an impact in 2020 and how?





Q5: Ryan Reynolds launched a campaign for Match called “Match Made in Hell”. It featured a sneak peek of Taylor Swift’s new recording of “Love Story”. Why does everything Ryan and Taylor touch turn to gold?





Q6: In an interview with Adweek, Paris Hilton said she used to portray a perfect life, but telling her true story has freed her and given her new purpose. What advice would you give to someone who tries to portray perfection online?






Q7: A New York Times article said late singer Selena bonded with her fans by being approachable, no matter how famous she became. How do you think celebrities conveyed approachability before social media?




Did you miss out on #PopChat this week? Join us every Friday at 1 p.m. ET! Follow me on Twitter at @brianne2k.

Also, here’s a relevant episode of Making the Brand about Harry Styles, featuring my friend, Kelsey Christine Anderson!


Why ‘Ava Dean Beauty’ by AJ McLean is Marketing Gold

Why ‘Ava Dean Beauty’ by AJ McLean is Marketing Gold

Every time I open up my Instagram, it seems like I’m introduced to a new celebrity beauty line. 
I can’t say I blame these celebs — if I had massive influence and millions of Instagram followers, I’d want to cash in on this $50 billion industry, too. It’s what made Kylie Jenner a billionaire at just 21.
Other successful celebrity beauty lines include Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, The Honest Company by Jessica Alba, Haus Laboratories by Lady Gaga, and Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez. Jennifer Lopez is also set to release JLo Beauty in January 2021. 

These women are some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. They’re talented, beautiful, and glamorous, so of course their fans are fawning over their beauty products. 
But one of my favorite people to fangirl over long before I knew anything about hair and makeup was AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys. And he’s now added his own line to the beauty mix. Yes, AJ McLean — the tattooed, “bad boy” of the group — now has a nail polish line called Ava Dean Beauty.
AJ has always been a beacon of individuality — it’s a reason his fans love him. One of his trademarks, besides wearing loud hats and sunglasses, is his manicured nails. He is known for wearing black nail polish, and no one has embraced this quirk more than his two young daughters, Ava and Lyric.

AJ McLean’s Story — The Brilliance of Ava Dean

I know what you’re thinking. Is there really room for another nail polish line in this cluttered industry? Does Ava Dean Beauty even stand a chance? The answer is “yes” because AJ is marketing it just right. 
Here’s what makes the Ava Dean Beauty launch a success.

It’s different

Let’s start with the obvious. AJ is a bit of the black sheep of the Backstreet Boys, and he’s certainly a black sheep in the beauty industry. It’s not often you hear of a beauty line created by a man. This fact alone is notable and will capture attention. It’s unexpected and unique, which makes it easily marketable. 
Ava Dean Beauty also breaks down gender stigmas and promotes important conversation. 


It’s purposeful. 

As Simon Sinek says, start with why. AJ had a clear purpose for starting Ava Dean Beauty: his daughters. At-home manicures became AJ’s way of bonding with his girls during those breaks in his busy schedule of recording, touring, and rehearsing. He wanted quality time with his family, and now, they’ve created something together.
Each nail polish in the Ava Dean collection is named after a member of the McLean family, including his wife Rochelle. 

AJ McLean family

It’s personal. 

What’s one of the biggest drivers of a brand’s success? Passion. There are many instances where celebrities, or anyone, will create a company simply to make money. They design products or force deals that don’t make sense or align with who they are. It’s all business. 
Thankfully, AJ made sure Ava Dean Beauty was true to him. This benefits not only himself, but his fans and customers. His brand isn’t a gimmick. He didn’t just slap a logo on T-shirt and watch the sales come in. He collaborated with his daughters to design something meaningful to them, which makes it meaningful to his audience. This connects people to Ava Dean Beauty on a deeper level.


It’s communicated with a story. 

It’s no secret that I will support pretty much anything a Backstreet Boy does. They’ve marketed to me since I used my allowance to buy their CDs. But as a marketing professional, I’m especially proud to support Ava Dean Beauty and am impressed by their promotional messaging. 
The homepage of the website immediately personifies the brand with heartwarming photos of AJ painting his daughter’s nails. The shots weren’t taken in a photography studio, but authentically in the comfort of their own home. The copy speaks to the brand’s purpose and creates an emotional connection.
When you click on to read their full story, it goes on to say:
This wouldn’t be the first time something a Backstreet Boy has done has gone straight to my heart! I happily pre-ordered my own nail polish and it should arrive in Spring 2021. 

Perfection is Boring

On the surface, the beauty industry may seem like it’s all about perfection, especially when backed by celebrities who always look flawless. But the most game-changing players in beauty aren’t about perfection. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty champions diversity, while Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is about ethics and safety. Ava Dean Beauty represents family and acceptance. 
Whenever you stand for something bigger and more purposeful than your products themselves, your audience will get behind you. 

Shop Ava Dean Beauty here.