Brand Stories

A Year in Review, The Top 10 Brand Success Stories of 2018

As 2018 comes to an end, we look back at some of the most effective brand stories and marketing strategies used throughout the year. This year, we saw disruptors, influencers, flawless email marketing campaigns, shocking video content, and “moonshot” marketing plans. This list compiles the 10 Biggest Brand Success Stories of 2018 and gives practical advice on how you can integrate comparable ideas into your own brand strategies for 2019.  

So without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look at the Top 10 Brand Success Stories of 2018 so you can apply key takeaways and learnings to build on in the year ahead.

Brand Stories #1: Lyft’s Brand Personality  

Lyft has been able to fill a void in the market that Uber left wide-open. Since its inception, Uber has largely focused on “business clients” with its initial fleet of town cars and sleek black brand aesthetic. Uber eventually broadened their customers base to everyday people, but Lyft identified the gap and they quickly jumped on the waiting opportunity, leveraging it to the full.

With hot pink moustache stickers on cars and adverts accentuating their “friendly drivers”, Lyft came into their own as a goofy, casual, light-hearted and very loveable brand. Lyft quickly started to see returns on their unique brand personality and approach to doing things.

Related: Discover How to Use Brand Archetypes To Build Your Winning Brand

In the past two years, Lyft has doubled their market share percentage, moving from 12% to now 29% [1]. On top of this, while Uber has been embroiled in lawsuits much of 2017 and 2018, Lyft has been slowly opening over 20 new markets, with careful consideration to integrate and benefit the local communities that they serve.

Lyft runs an annual report every year to quantify how they are contributing to the local economies that they do business in. “The report is part of our mission to reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together,” Vipul Patel, general manager of Lyft New York, told Observer [2].

Brand Lesson #1: Identify, Build and Leverage Your Brand’s Unique Personality to Stand Out


By adhering to and living their brand values of being a friendly, neighbourhood driving company, Lyft has been able to secure their place in the ride-sharing market. So the question is, what is your brand’s ‘personality’? What aspects of your brand should you never waiver on and what could you leverage and amplify more fully to make your brand’s personality really shine?

Brand Stories

Image via Courtesy Company and Inc.

Brand Stories #2:  Tesla’s “Moon Shot” Marketing

Many have heard of Elon Musk, the eccentric entrepreneur that started both Tesla and SpaceX. Those who know of him, know that he does not usually shy away from elaborate brand stunts or “moon shots”.

This year, Elon Musk sent one of his Tesla’s into space using sister company, SpaceX to do the heavy lifting. Sending a Tesla Roadster into space actually cost Tesla, in campaign terms, very little while the launch itself cost SpaceX $90 million dollars.

Essentially, the rocket that SpaceX was launching needed a certain “payload” for launch. Instead of filling the weight with bricks or concrete as some might have done, Elon opted for the flashier option: one of Tesla’s new Roadster cars. The stunt made international headlines and the message was clear, “Elon Musk is thinking bigger than any other CEO right now.”

Brand Lesson #2: Think Big!

You might not be the owner of two multi-million dollar companies creating cutting-edge technology in the transportation industry, but you can still think “big” inside your own industry. What is your brand’s “moon shot” for 2019? How and where will you stretch beyond your comfort zone and make a lasting statement with a message that really matters to your ideal customers and becomes a significant talking point?

We know that sometimes it’s a struggle to build a brand strategy that really engages your ideal customers effectively so we’ve developed three different ways of working with us to help you build your brand, depending on your preferences, so if you’d like us to:

  1. Build your brand for you – find out more here or get in touch brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724
  2. Empower you to build your brand – check out the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind here. This is a two-day intensive where you work on your brand with us codifying and mapping out your brand strategy for business growth. Alternatively, join our half-day Branding Accelerator Masterclass for a fast-injection of brand building essentials. Ask about our Personal and Corporate Leadership Brand Alignment Masterclass
  3. Want a DIY solution? check out our how to build a brand eprogramme here and our how to audit your brand yourself eprogramme here

Brand Stories #3: Trulia’s Thought Leadership

It’s no secret that a great way to gain exposure and maintain loyalty is through quality content that engages the customer. When this content is one-of-a-kind and is leading the industry in relevance and information, that’s what we call ‘Thought Leadership’.

Trulia, a global property search engine for renters, buyers and sellers around the world led their industry this year with quality researched content. Through careful research and studies run exclusively through the company, Trulia provided their newsletter recipients with thoughtful email content tackling large questions such as “Why Millennials aren’t buying houses?” or “If renting or buying is better for your lifestyle?”.[3] 

Brand Lesson #3: Become The ‘Go To’ Expert in Your Sector

No matter what your business is, becoming an authority on your industry is essential to your company’s growth. Don’t be afraid to hire consultants who consider themselves thought leaders in your space to discuss trends and roadblocks.

Related: Top 10 Branding Trends in 2019 Part 1

Keep all of your certifications up to date and never stop learning! Write authoritative content to put on your website and repurpose across other channels to ensure that your target market views you as an expert. How can you further your education in your industry today and leverage your expertise to attract more of your ideal customers?

Brand Stories

Image via Trulia

Brand Stories #4: Make Up For Ever’s Data-Driven Content Series

Make Up For Ever, a large cosmetics company, started digging into Google Search data to help them create some strategies for their new Ultra HD concealer line. They quickly identified an opportunity in their SEO around concealers for diverse markets.

Related: Increase Sales Using Buyer Personas, Your Guide to Understanding and Targeting Your Ideal Customers

Following their research, Make Up For Ever created a content series showing how to use their concealers to contour dark skin. Their campaign was incredibly successful with an increase of 18% in product searches and a 44% lift in brand recall![4] They identified an opportunity and made an informed decision that paid off handsomely.

Brand Lesson #4: Use Data to Inform Your Marketing Campaigns


Data should always be driving your marketing strategies. We live in a world where data is King. Knowing your target market, and really knowing them (how they shop, how they consume information, how they do their job, what gets them fired up, etc.) is key to ensuring you maximize marketing return on investment. Is your marketing plan for 2019 data-driven? How can you dive deeper into understanding your ideal target market?

Brand Stories

Image via Make Up For Ever and Think With Google

Brand Stories #5: Tate & Lyle Sugars Physical Marketing Campaign

Tate and Lyle Sugars needed a new way to reach key decision-makers. Typically their industry relies heavily on gifts and ‘free samples’. They needed a way to increase the visibility of their bottles of sweetener so they stood out amongst all of their competitors.

They embraced creativity and decided to blend the physical and the digital world with a gift-box of sweeteners that included a built-in screen that played a video explaining their products and their company.

They repurposed the video and cut it into shorter clips so it could be shared on Linkedin as bite-sized pieces. Their change in tactic resulted in Tate & Lyle creating 61% active conversations with prospects and reaping a growing 183% in ROI. There is nothing ‘bite-sized’ about those returns.[5]

Brand Lesson #5: Get Physical! Analogue or Retro Still Adds Value with the Digital World


Even though digital marketing is supreme now, it’s worth remembering how far a handwritten note or physical gift can go. While these options might seem to be more costly or time-intensive compared to digital marketing, campaigns that involve tangible gifts, booklets, products, etc. can have immense returns on investment — when done well. How can you incorporate the physical with the digital in 2019? How can you innovate and surprise your customers with something physically tangible in the non-digital sense, while staying ‘on-brand’?

Related: The Magic Words, 7 Ways to Appreciate Your Customers

Brand Stories

Image via Tate & Lyle and b2bmarketing

Are you a business leader, manager or entrepreneur who wants to re-evaluate or build your brand strategy so you can effectively leverage trends and changing market dynamics to increase your sales? Are you curious about how to build or scale a highly successful standout brand? Join one of our branding workshops because they empower you to build your brand, enhance customer experience, expand your market impact and create higher perceived value so you can command a premium.

In fact, the Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Mastermind is all about fast-tracking you, your brand and your business through the brand building, brand strategy process using big-brand know-how with proven systems that get results so you can grow your business faster and more effectively.

If you want a tailor-made solution specifically for your brand then we also provide in-house bespoke Persona Brand Building Blueprint™ Intensives working with you and your team so you can grow your business faster and more profitably. Contact us to discover more brand@personadesign.ie or +353 1 8322724

Brand Stories #6: Youfoodz’s Influencer Campaign

Youfoodz is an Australian meal-prep company that recently utilized different Instagram influencers to promote the launch of their new winter menu. Youfoodz made sure to find influencers that were very focused on related niches like fitness, health, and food.

Related: How to Use Influencers to Grow Your Brand and Open New Markets

They chose 81 influencers who created 160+ pieces of content around the launch of their menu. Because Youfoodz was so laser-focused with their target market, they were able to reach over 1.5 million people on Facebook and Instagram using the content that the influencers produced. This campaign resulted in over 70,000 direct engagements on the content produced for the campaign.[6]

Brand Lesson #6: Influencers Work (but, they need to fit your niche)


Social media influencers aren’t right for every type of business, but their effectiveness in industries like beauty, health, fashion, etc. are undeniable. If influencers are a part of your 2019 marketing strategy, ensure that you have selected the very best group of people to help you represent your brand. Would your brand benefit from influencers or brand ambassadors? What kind of influencers would you select to represent your brand?

Brand Stories

Brand Stories #7: Squarespace’s Simple Video Campaign

This year, Squarespace set off on an ambitious ad campaign to show how easy it is to build a website on their platform. They hired award-winning actor, Jeff Bridges (or “The Dude”) to explain how he used Squarespace to create a website for his new project, the “Sleeping Tapes”. The video elegantly shows the solution in action, and as the video ends, there are three different calls to action, helping you to learn more about Squarespace, hear more of the the Sleeping Tapes, or explore their other content. It is simple and engaging, and very memorable!

Brand Lesson #7: Keep it Simple

Don’t overthink it. Usually, the most effective ad campaigns explain their company or products in terms that a junior school 5th grader could understand. How can you simplify the way that you communicate about your brand?

Related: Using Video To Broadcast Your Brand Message So You Attract Your Ideal Customers

How can you distil your brand positioning into one clear easily understood sentence? What questions can you answer in fewer words? How can you make your brand and what you do understood by your Great Grandmother!

Brand Stories #8: Blenders Eyewear User Generated Content Strategy

Blenders Eyewear, an online sunglasses company, quickly evolved from 2 guys selling sunglasses out of their backpacks to a 7-figure business, using exclusively Facebook adverts and Instagram influencers.

Related: 4 Ways You Can Be More Customer-Centric to Grow Your Business

How did they do this? They let their customers do the talking. Blenders Eyewear created a whole social media strategy built around posting online reviews that their customers had given. While UGC (user-generated content) strategies are not new, this interesting take of only sharing customer reviews was wildly successful for Blenders Eyewear. Their customer-feedback centric strategy enabled them to decrease their CPC (cost-per-click) by 40%.[7]

Brand Lesson #8: Let your customer’s do the talking

Content creation doesn’t have to be a huge endeavour to embrace. In many cases, you can transfer this task to your customers! Do you already have UGC (user-generated content) as a component of your content strategy for 2019? How can you include UGC into your current content strategy?


Brand Stories

Image via Blenders Eyewear, Facebook Advert

Brand Stories #9: Glossier’s Authentic Aesthetic

Glossier is a mega-brand case study in cult branding, and how a small online blog turned into an e-commerce superstar. How did they build this giant beauty empire from the ground up?

Related: Use Psychology in Your Brand Strategy to Create Irresistible Brand Experiences and Increase Sales

Many say the key has been in ‘being authentic’. Glossier saw a hole in the beauty market — one for every-day women who want to feel beautiful in the skin they’re in. While other beauty companies sell the aspirational with retouched photos of supermodels to sell their products, Glossier uses a diverse range of women wearing their products using only an iPhone. This gives the brand a raw, untouched aesthetic that has captivated millions.[8]

Brand Lesson #9: Be Authentic


People don’t want to feel that they are being ‘sold’ too. Especially in millennial branding, consumers are demanding more honest and authentic advertising. What does your company stand for? How do you want your customers to feel? Focusing on these two questions will be essential for your marketing strategy in 2019.

Brand Stories

Image ©Glossier

Brand Stories #10: Linkedins Break from the Norm

In a change of pace, Linkedin recently traded in their ‘blazer’ or ‘suit’ for a ‘flannel shirt’ with their new ad campaign that appeals to a more diverse audience. Linkedin went out to their users to ask “What are you in it for?” Their campaign aims to show that no matter what your profession is, LinkedIn can help you network and move your business forward.

Brand Lesson #10: Have some fun

Don’t forget to have a little fun! What are some ways that you can innovate and add a little excitement to your 2019 marketing plans?

Final Word

From influencers to authentic branding strategy, to “moon shots”, to effective thought leadership, 2018 brought us a year full of innovative and data-driven marketing campaigns. Taking on board the trends for 2019, which we covered in a two-part previous post, what will 2019 hold for you and your brand?

If you’d like to discover more about building and maintaining a thriving, high performing, highly profitable standout brand, then get in touch because we’d love to help you make your brand into a profit powerhouse.

  1. Schedule an appointment — we can meet in person or online
  2. Allow us to create a customised plan for you
  3. Let’s implement the plan together  
  4. Contact us brand@personadesign.ie or ring +353 1 8322724 (GMT Dublin/London time 9:00 – 17:30 weekdays)

Lorraine Carter is a professional speaker delivering talks that inspire and motivate along with masterclasses and workshops that inform and support transformational outcomes fast, and consultancy solutions that solve problems so you can outshine, outperform and leave your competitors way behind.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is your brand’s personality? Describe it like its a real person.
  2. What are your marketing “moon shots” to stand out and capture the attention of your ideal customers?
  3. How can you incorporate influencers and UGC into your content strategy?
  4. How can you distil the language around your brand to make it really stand out and be more memorable, credible, trustworthy and likeable?
  5. Does your brand need a refresh or revitalisation to reach its full potential?
  6. How will you innovate in the coming year’s branding strategy

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