Making the Brand

The podcast where marketing and pop culture collide

Trashy Educational Celebrity News

Who doesn’t love to learn AND be entertained?

On Making the Brand, Brianne shares unforgettable marketing lessons behind music, TV, movies, and trending topics that you can apply to your own brand!


Season Five

Episode 5: Romy & Michele's High School Reunion is the Perfect Personal Branding Metaphor
You may know Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion as one of the most beloved comedies of the ’90s, but it’s actually about personal branding. Here are some personal branding lessons inspired by this iconic film!

Episode 4: How Did MTV Collect UGC in the Year 2000? Tips to Make the Most of User-Generated Content

Sharing user-generated content in the age of social media is simple! But what was it like in the year 2000? How did brands hold contests or gather earned media?

In this episode, we go down memory lane to hear how MTV’s Total Request Live collected UGC. We’ll also share some tips on how to make the most of your UGC. Spoiler alert: some UGC is good, but not good enough.

Episode 3: Does Madonna Have a Last Name? How to Finally Land on the Right Name for Your Brand

If you’re anything like me, you’ve put off launching a blog, podcast, or business idea for far too long because you couldn’t land on the perfect name for it. Well, it’s a beautiful day to stop overthinking and just do the damn thing!

Here’s my best advice on how to pick a name for your brand that not only works, but helps you get going!


Episode 2: The Social Phenomenon Every Marketer Should Know, Thanks to Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s music legacy is undeniable! But she is also credited with helping create a social phenomenon every marketer should know: The Streisand Effect.

According to The Economist, The Streisand Effect occurs when “efforts to suppress a juicy piece of online information can backfire and end up making things worse for the would-be censor.”

We’ve seen countless examples of this in pop culture, but also surrounding important public service announcements.

Are your communication efforts backfiring on you? Learn more in this episode!



Episode 1: The Content Idea That Always Works, Inspired by Gracie Lou Freebush

OMG, we’re back again with season 5! I’m sharing a content idea that works every time and will take the guesswork out of content creation. Thanks to Miss Congeniality for the inspiration on this one! 


Season Four

SEASON FINALE: Interview with Backstreet Boy, AJ McLean about Ava Dean Beauty

Am I dreaming?!!? I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special episode where my friends and I INTERVIEW A BACKSTREET BOY!

Long story short, I also co-host a live stream show called Fangirls’ Night Out with my friends Danielle, Britt, and Kelsey. Between the four of us and the fangirl powers that be, we made our way to AJ McLean.

In this episode, we talk with AJ and his business partner, Josh Naranjo, about what they learned building a beauty brand.


Episode 13: How Your Personal Brand Empowers You - Inspired by Britney Spears & Meghan Markle

If you watched the Framing Britney Spears documentary and Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle, you learned how the tabloids destroyed their mental health. They were powerless to the narrative the press was building.

The tabloids wouldn’t have stood a chance if Britney and Meghan were empowered with social media and an online presence.

In this episode, you’ll hear the importance of using the platforms at your fingertips to amplify your voice and shape your narrative. 


Episode 12: Crashing the Party: How to Leverage Trending Topics without Getting Canceled

Brands want to be where the people are — that’s where trending topics come in! Trending topics are a huge opportunity for brands to humanize themselves and create visibility, but insert themselves into the conversation the wrong way.

In this episode, we break down some brands who have done it right, along with some examples of what NOT to do.  


BONUS EPISODE: We Want It That Way — How BSB Can Transform their Website w/ Britt Hyatt

My friend Britt and I got so caught up talking about the Backstreet Boys, I had enough content to break it out into a mini bonus episode!

We do a deeper dive on and all the potential the band could tap into to bring more excitement to their site. Enjoy!


Check out Britt online here:  

Launch Your Daydream 



Episode 11: Why You and Your Favorite Musician Should Focus on a Personal Website

We love to follow our favorite musicians on social media, but very few have us following their websites. Why do they lack consistency, updates, and great content?!

Social media is nice, but your website is your brand’s (or band’s!) biggest opportunity. In this episode, I chat with my friend, fellow fangirl, and web designer Britt Hyatt about how you AND celebrities can transform your online presence and grow your brand with your website. 

Check out Britt online here:  

Launch Your Daydream 



Episode 10: 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.

As part of their legacy, they taught us the importance of friendship. But if you look a little closer, they also taught us about brand purpose.

In this episode, I break down how the Spice Girls’ mantra of ‘Girl Power’ can inspire your brand to do something bigger than sell, sell, sell.

Episode 8: The Marketing Wizardry of Harry Potter w/ Jake Zachariah

In this episode, we dive into the wizarding world of Harry Potter’s marketing. I chatted with Jake ‘JZ’ Zachariah — a marketer and total Potterhead.

From the books, to the movies, merch, and experiences, there’s so much we can learn from HP.

Follow JZ: @jzjakez



Episode 7: Peloton's Pop Culture Brilliance w/ Christina Garnett & Adam Pierno
If you ask me, Peloton wins the award for brand of the year in 2020. We couldn’t have predicted the huge at-home fitness boom the pandemic forced upon us!

In this episode, I chatted with passionate Peloton rider and marketing strategist, Christina Garnett, as well as Adam Pierno — an author, podcast host, and strategist.

We discussed how Peloton brilliantly builds community while leveraging pop culture, and what other brands can learn from their lead.



Episode 6: How to Be a Content Superhero: Inspiration from Comics w/ Jon-Stephen Stansel

The comic book industry began sparking imaginations and building memories for audiences as early as the 1960s, and its magic isn’t slowing down anytime soon

In this episode, I chat with social media marketer, Jon-Stephen Stansel, about why comics have stood the test of time, and what brands can learn from their success.

We dig into specifics like brand voice and other takeaways for content creators.

Follow Jon-Stephen on Twitter at @jsstansel
Podcast: ThoughtFeeder


Episode 5: How Social Media Shapes an Athlete's Influence w/ Anthony Yepez

In the ’90s, everyone wanted to be ‘Like Mike’. Michael Jordan was an extraordinary athlete with immeasurable influence from TV commercials, magazine covers, and brand partnerships.

But how has this landscape changed for the modern athlete in the age of social media? Or more specifically, how has this changed for young athletes?

In this episode, I chatted with Anthony Yepez — a digital and social media strategy professional with a passion for basketball. We discussed how a media company like Overtime helps young athletes get to the next phase of their careers thanks to the power of content.

Follow Anthony on Twitter at @AnthonyYepez.


Episode 4: Why ‘Ava Dean Beauty’ by AJ McLean is Marketing Gold
AJ McLean is my favorite Backstreet Boy, but now, he’s my favorite businessman.
In this episode, I break down branding takeaways from the launch of his new live, Ava Dean Beauty. I share four characteristics of his company launch that explain why it’s a success.

Episode 3: How Harry Styles Stans Do His Marketing for Him
One of the most powerful things a person or brand can do is activate their customers or fans to do their marketing for them.

In this episode, I interview business owner / Harry Styles fangirl, Kelsey Anderson. She shares how Harry Styles (formerly of boy brand, One Direction) activated his fans to promote his album and make him a solo superstar.

We break down these marketing efforts with takeaways that any business owner or brand can apply when marketing their own company.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter here! 

Also, check out the fangirl thesis she mentions in the episode.

Episode 2: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on Brand Storytelling

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song is beloved by many, but its lyrics contain an important message for marketers.

In this episode, we break down storytelling techniques inspired by Will and how his life got flipped-turned-upside-down.


Episode 1: The Gaming Community - Past, Present, & Future
For decades now, culture has bonded over video games. There’s was like gathering your friends together at a sleepover and staying up all night trying to beat a level in a game of Nintendo.

Today, the gaming community is still strong, but it’s playing out in bigger ways thanks to the live-streaming platform, Twitch.

In this episode, I interview gaming and streaming expert, Joechuck aka the Fighting Wordsmith. He shares how to build a community both on and off Twitch, and some predictions about this platform that EVERYONE needs to watch.

Follow Joechuck’s Twitch streams here

Season Three

Episode 12: TRL's Formula for Raving Fans

If you grew up in the late ’90s and early 2000s, long before Spotify, TikTok, and YouTube, Carson Daly was your gateway to new music.

On September 14, 1998, a little show called Total Request Live premiered on MTV. It was a driving force that helped launch the career of a few blonde bombshell likes Britney and Christina, boy bands like BSB and *NSYNC, and rappers like Eminem and Ludacris.

But TRL really wasn’t about the music. It was about the fans.

In this episode, we do a deep dive on how you can better engage with your audience and involve them in your brand on a deeper level. 


Episode 11: A Brand That Pops! Marketing Inspiration from Dr. Pimple Popper
Gross, yet oddly satisfying… why are some people so obsessed with Dr. Pimple Popper?
On this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Stallings, founder of Athelo Group and unapologetic Dr. Pimple Popper fan. He shared some thought-provoking lessons behind the show and how Dr. Sandra Lee built her massive brand. 
Even if Dr. Pimple Popper makes your stomach turn, you’ll still appreciate the marketing and branding takeaways Andrew shares on this episode! 
You can catch up with Andrew on Twitter at @astallings88.


Episode 10: Learn New Vocabulary Words with Mariah Carey

Who says you have to read the dictionary to expand your vocabulary?

A 2015 study indicated that Mariah Carey has the “smartest lyrics” of any musician.

In this episode, I recap some of the million dollar words Mariah has brilliantly written into her songs. I hope they inspire you to use them in your own writing! 

Episode 9: The Problem with the MTV Video Music Awards
MTV was once known as “music television,” but not anymore. Yet, on one night of the year, they host a music awards show. 
In this episode, I explain why no one seems to care about the MTV VMAs anymore, and why staying true to your brand purpose is so important.  


Episode 8: Pop-Up Video’s Lesson for Content Creators

The mark of any interesting piece of content is that it serves a purpose. Whether it be to entertain, inspire, connect, or educate, you want to publish content that feeds your audience.

Do you remember on Pop-Up Video on VH1? The show shares fun facts during music videos. The facts were far from academic, but they still educated the viewer. They provided context and insights that made the music video more enjoyable.
From your email campaigns, to social content and YouTube videos, incorporating facts is a surefire way to enhance your content. Listen to learn why!



Episode 7: Whatever! Your Personal Brand Doesn't Need a Makeover
In this episode, I chat with photographer and brand builder, Julia Chesky, about her favorite things: fashion, marketing, and the movie Clueless!

We celebrate the 25th anniversary of Clueless by breaking down some of the movies main themes and relating them back to personal branding.

It turns out, your personal brand doesn’t need reinvention — your authentic self is enough!


Episode 6: Marketing and Business Lessons from the Raddest Decade
In this episode, I interview Chris Clews, who is an ’80s pop culture expert. From Prince to The Princess Bride, Chris shares biz and marketing takeaways. 

For more ’80s fun, follow Chris Clews!
Episode 5: How Pro Wrestlers Flex their Branding Muscles

The Rock and countless other wrestlers have built powerful brands. From their memorable catchphrases, unforgettable outfits, and electrifying stage presence, they each use their platform to create loyal fans.

In this episode, I talk with Dustin Stout, an entrepreneur, social media expert, speaker, digital marketing consultant, and wrestling fan.

We’re reflecting on some of the genius branding moves we can learn from The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and other wrestling greats. 


Episode 4: Marketers, Put Your Brand Voice on Autotune

If there’s any artist whose known for standing out with autotune, it’s T-Pain.

T-Pain wasn’t necessarily better than other hip-hop artists of his era, but he found a way to stand out with his unique voice.

And brands can too. We cover it all on this episode, along with the new 3 P’s of marketing! 

Episode 3: Confessions of a Shopaholic: Marketing Takeaways from Sneakerhead Culture
We all have that friend who gives us closet envy because of their amazing sneaker collection 😍

On this episode, we hear from my from Azad Yakatally about how Nike built a tribe of customers who don’t just want their shoes, they NEED them.

We discuss:

  • Sneakerhead culture and marketing power 
  • The impact of scarcity on product sales
  • Enthusiast brands like Nike and Fender
  • The effects of nostalgia in marketing

Be sure to follow Azad on Twitter fore more marketing wisdom: @ayakatally.

Episode 2: How to Tell Your Story – Inspired by Black Musicians Who are Part of Mine

Just like the rest of the world, I’ve been doing some reflection on the people of color who have made an impact on my life.

Aside from the incredible people I’ve come to know personally, there are a number of famous Black people who sparked my interest in music.

On this episode, I get personal and share some stories from my childhood, while offering some tips to help you dig deep and tell your own stories.

As we fight for racial equality, we need stories more than ever. Stories help us understand each other, which is a critical part of effecting change.

Episode 1: Is Michael Jordan the Meme King?
The ESPN documentary, The Last Dance, came at a time when the world craved sports. And with it’s premiere came tons of memes to circulate on social media!

In this episode, I chatted with Jared Gaon, the creator of one of the hottest new meme accounts, @JordanJamming.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to build on a pop culture moment and run your own meme account, you have to tune in to this episode! Jared shares how he got the idea for the meme, how he’s built a following, and some of the opportunities that have come his way.

Season Two

Episode 12: Beyoncé's Loyal Tribe and Unbreakable Brand

Beyoncé is a force of incredible branding. In fact, she’s built such a strong brand, that the queen hardly has to do any branding anymore. Her loyal tribe, the #BeyHive, does all of her marketing for her.

For this episode, I chatted with my resident Beyoncé superfan, Kimberly Gordon, to talk about what we can learn from the brand and empire Beyoncé has built throughout her career. 


Episode 11: This Storytelling Strategy Explains Why "All Too Well" is Taylor Swift's Best Song

 Even if you don’t love Taylor Swift, you have to listen to her song “All Too Well”. There’s one big storytelling lesson that will help you improve your writing!


Episode 10: Songwriting & Brand Storytelling: What Marketers Can Learn from NBC's Songland

In this episode, I had the chance to chat with Wes Gay, a copywriter and owner of the Wayfinder agency, about a show we both love: Songland.

If you’re unfamiliar with Songland, it’s a songwriting competition where four unknown songwriters present their original songs to superstar artists. The artist then chooses three of the songwriters to move on to the next round, where they work with professional songwriters to tweak and improve their songs based on their expertise. Then, the artist picks his or her favorite, and turns it into one of their singles.

We often forget that more often than not, songs are STORIES! Here’s how your favorite songs can inspire your own marketing and content.


Episode 9: Celebrity Fashion Statements are Part of Their Brand Identity

Personal branding doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it’s just in what you wear!

Here are some fashion statements that have become signature identifiers for these celebrities. 


Episode 8: Oh. My. GOD! Janice from Friends is a Personal Branding Muse

It’s no secret that Janice from Friends wasn’t everyone’s favorite person to be around, but she certainly was a fan favorite! 

From her nasally voice, to her unpleasant cackle, and signature catchphrase (OH. MY. GOD), Janice was always unapolegetically herself. 

Here are some things about Janice that make her a shining example of how to build a personal brand.


Episode 7: How Boy Meets World Will Help Your Brand Stay On-Message

I’m pretty sure anyone growing up in the ’90s adored the sitcom, Boy Meets World. The show was such a hit that it was later rebooted in 2014 on Disney with Girl Meets World.

In this episode, I’m talking with my friend and fellow copywriter, Terry Schilling, about what content creators can learn from Boy Meets World. He shares helpful advice on how to build a strong brand foundation, leverage nostalgia, and write stronger content that is always on-brand. 

Follow Terry online at 

Episode 6: Jessica Simpson's Brilliant Tips to Build Your Online Presence

In the marketing and social media field, we always hear the term “authenticity.” This speaks to presenting your true self with your audience, rather than portraying a facade.

Jessica Simpson exemplifies authenticity in her new memoir, Open Book. She lets herself be vulnerable and bravely puts everything out there. No topic is too personal or humiliating to address.

Whether you simply want to improve your mental health or find the courage to share more of who you are online, there are many takeaways inspired by Jessica Simpson and Open Book.

Episode 5: Aviation Gin's Pop Culture Mastery
Ryan Reynolds is certainly a successful fixture in popular culture. You may love him for his movies, his looks, or his charm, but I love him for something more: his creative genius.

In February 2018, Ryan Reynolds acquired a stake in the liquor brand, Aviation American Gin. Along with a small but mighty marketing team, he has helped take the company to new heights with some of the most clever marketing campaigns we’ve seen in a long time.

Who could forget their incredibly swift move when they hired the infamous Peloton wife for a commercial?

But the brilliant marketing hasn’t stopped there. Fast Company named the Aviation Gin one of the most innovative brands of 2020, in large part to their quick responses to pop culture moments.

On the latest episode of the Making the Brand podcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Adrian Molina, the senior brand manager behind Aviation Gin, and social media expert and professor, Dr. Karen Freberg.

It turns out that other companies should be taking notes on what Aviation Gin is doing. Pour yourself a negroni (Ryan’s favorite drink!) and listen in to hear the method to their madness.

Episode 4: How Pop Culture Transforms Your Marketing
Everyone knows I love pop culture! Although it’s fun to discuss celebrity news or trending topics among friends, it’s even better when brands join in on the conversation.

Incorporating pop culture into your marketing strategy is one of the best ways to get your audience to resonate with your content. Here’s how to do it!

Episode 3: How to Turn Ordinary Customers into Brand Superfans
Fangirls aren’t just for boy bands. Nope, BRANDS need them too.

Cultivating your audience to become passionate superfans will grow your company faster than chasing down leads.

Here are six steps to turn ordinary customers into passionate groupies.

Episode 2: What Makes TikTok Tick?
If you didn’t make up dances with your friends, did you even have a childhood?

Well, kids these days are making dances, posting them on TikTok and becoming viral sensations.

But why? Is it really that simple?

In this episode, we break down why TikTok is such a huge success and what makes it different than every other social media platform we’ve known to date.

Episode 1: Every Social Media Platform Explained as a Friends Character
There are a ton of ways to learn about and understand all of the different social media platforms, but for this episode, I thought I’d get a little help from my friends.

And by friends, I mean Ross, Rachel, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, and Chandler.

Here’s every social media platform explained as Friends character.

Season One

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Episode 12: The Small Business Instagram Lesson Inspired by You've Got Mail

I consider this a public service announcement!

Every time I see another small business in my community shut its doors, I think about the 1998 modern classic, You’ve Got Mail. Remember when Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, was forced to close The Shop Around the Corner because of corporate takeover?

Well, Instagram wasn’t around in 1998 and small business owners have the power of Instagram to reach potential customers. But many brands are doing it wrong!

Take a listen for some amazing tips small businesses can apply to grow on Instagram.

Episode 11: This Christmas Card Trend Can Help Your Marketing
Just when you thought you were in full-on Christmas vacation mode, I’m reminding you that marketing lessons are always around us. It turns out there’s even a takeaway from the Christmas cards adorning your refrigerator.

In this episode, we discuss break down the Christmas card trend and why it’s effective. You can apply the same learnings to your marketing message.

Episode 10: Why Instagram Boomerangs are the Worst
It seems like I can’t go a Sunday morning without seeing a Boomerang of clinking mimosas on Instagram. As much as I love mimosas, this bothers me.

Look, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade — if you’re on social media to have fun and cheers to living your best life, I support that. But if you are a person or brand that actually wants to be compelling, Boomerangs aren’t doing you any favors.

Here’s why Boomerangs are failing your audience, plus what to post instead.

Episode 9: How to Market Yourself Like Elle Woods
Personal branding… what, like it’s hard? Take it from Elle Woods of Legally Blonde.

If you’re trying to advance in your company, position yourself as a thought leader, start a business, land a new job, or even change careers, listen to this episode for five things you can learn from Elle Woods.

Episode 8: The Science Behind Red Bottom Shoes
Ariana Grande said it first… happiness is the same price as red bottoms. In these lyrics, she is of course referring to Christian Louboutin luxury shoes. At $800 and up, why are these heels such a cultural phenomenon? It’s not because people like the color red. It turns out, there’s a scientific reason that the rich and famous, and everyone in between, is obsessed red bottoms. In this episode, I break down Jonah Berger’s STEPPS framework which explains it all.

Episode 7: Carrie Bradshaw's Blogging Lessons
Before there were bloggers, there was Carrie Bradshaw and her column in the fictitious publication, The New York Star. I like to think that Carrie’s character on Sex and the City paved the way for women to be unapologetically themselves and write about how they see the world.

I sat down with my good friend Gina to discuss Carrie and Sex and the City’s influence on marketing, blogging, and social media. By the end of this episode, I hope you’re inspired to start your own blog!

Episode 6: Dancing and Branding with the Stars
If you think Dancing With the Stars is for washed up celebrities, think again. It turns out there’s a huge lesson we can learn about personal branding from the brave contestants who appear on the show.

Episode 5: Pumpkin Spice Up Your Life
Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing basic about the pumpkin spice latte. In fact, it is the most successful seasonal drink of ALL TIME!

In this episode, we discuss the pumpkin phenomenon and how brands can create a frenzy of their own.

Episode 4: NBC's This Is Us & Storytelling
Grab a box of tissues! If you’re a fan of NBC’s This Is Us, you’re going to want to hear how you can take these pointers from the show to upgrade your brand’s storytelling.

This episode also features tips from the book called Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall.

Episode 3: This BSB Song is Actually About Marketing
It seems as if there is a song to overcome every personal obstacle — a breakup, low self-esteem, a tough workout, or even the loss of a loved one. There is inspiration in lyrics everywhere you turn.

But sometimes, songs can even help us navigate challenges in the workplace.

At first listen, you might think “As Long As You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys is about a romantic relationship, but if you listen closely, you’ll learn that it actually offers advice about your marketing strategy.

Take a listen to hear the advice for yourself.

Episode 2: Phoebe Buffay Says You Need an Email List
Perhaps Phoebe Buffay is the most enterprising character in Friends. With an unconventional education background, Phoebe worked some odd jobs in her career. Before becoming a masseuse, she mugged people on the street. She also had brief stints as a telemarketer, Monica’s waitress and catering partner, and an extra on the set of Days of Our Lives.

But Phoebe’s true passion is her music, and although she never reached superstar status, she still understood the importance of marketing herself.

In this episode, we go over why your email list is your biggest marketing asset, yes, even in the age of social media.

Episode 1: Brands Are Taking DNA Tests Thanks to Lizzo
Lizzo’s single, “Truth Hurts”, has been #1 on the Billboard charts for five weeks straight! It turns out, brands are getting in on the action. In this episode, hear how companies like Walmart, Target, and Delta Airlines are capitalizing on Lizzo’s cultural relevance and singing along on Twitter.

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Have an idea for an episode? If you want to geek out on marketing + pop culture topic, just shoot me a message!