Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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Celebrity Lifestyle Branding: Build a Better You?


Oh, the feel of a Brand. I love it. Everything about the idea and texture of a brand that resonates with my soul it alright by me.

Barefoot Contessa, Anthropologie, Apple, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Williams Sonoma, Ikea – hell, I’m on board. They conjure the lifestyle I want to snuggle up to. I mean – who doesn’t want to live in Ina Garten’s barn in East Hampton, cook splendid meals with stylish/functional tools, or live in a CB2 showroom while using an Anthro or Hugo Boss location as your personal closet?

Since I’m working on my ‘The Good Write’ brand, I’ve been exploring business images  that make me feel warm and fuzzy. (See the paragraph above).

I’ve written about branding before. I’m fascinated by how a brand makes you feel, how it enhances your well being – your lifestyle.

Lifestyle.  I mean, we all live a life, and we all want to live it to its fullest. Brands that provide expert advice on health, beauty, travel, arts, fashion, cooking, housekeeping, etc… are going to be pretty damn popular.

But here’s the interesting thing: When you Google “Lifestyle Guru” – you will find articles that list the top go-to people in this category are celebrities.

Celebrities. Mostly actresses with lucrative film and television careers – filling the lifestyle niche that sit nicely on top of the Google search engine with articles like “These Celebrities Want you to Live a Better Life”.

Gwyneth Paltrow,  Blake Lively, Zoey Deschannel, to name a few, have all extended their celebrity status into the lifestyle brand.  With research and a good team of people to help fulfill these branding goals, they have no doubt done their research. They know who they’re branding for. They know their customer avatar right down to the pocketbook she carries (Hermes? Michael Kors?), the nail polish she wears (Butter? Esse?), the daycare she uses, the organic food she eats and the vegan life she longs to fulfill.

I applaud these famous people.  It’s obvious they provide an amazing service to the person they have in mind – the person they are speaking to who yearns to find the best cleanses, money advice, physical fitness regimes and fun fashion suggestions.

This blogger is no different from those who actively seek out celebrity advice. When it comes to makeup and hair – YES, I want to know their secrets and the products they use.

But here’s my issue. Do these brands REALLY resonate with regular people who are seeking out celebrity “expert” advice?  How is their  lifestyle experience anything like mine or my friends?

Unless a celebrity found fame a bit later in life and had children to feed and bills they struggled to pay (see J.K. Rowlings, Loretta Lynn), Celebrities don’t gain their expertise from a gaping hole in the marketplace. They gain their expertise through the good stuff provided to them by well paid experts and swag parties.

Did these celebrities once have their own struggles? Sure. But their advice comes from the rarefied air that celebrity affords them.  These are brands built by managers who work to optimize their careers. They’re built via easy access to the best of everything in clothes, schools, trainers, chefs, nutritionists, money managers, nannies, doctors, spas, organic food, travel and many other important people who will take their calls.

If a celebrity can provide affordable advice on how to dress like them for less money – I mean LESS money  (not show a pair of $1000 shoes marked down to $500 and call that a bargain), then…cool! Maybe they are offering something in their brand we can relate to.

But can the average person really relate to them?

Can most of people who search for Paltrow’s “Goop” really afford the$200 denim shorts she promotes? Or the $500 hand stitched slippers?

Maybe the mom who just put the baby down and wants some “Me” time enjoys escaping into “Goop” or Oprah’s Super Soul. Nothing wrong with that. But can she afford these “must haves” for summer or do a major herbal colonic?

A brand created by someone who launched her business from nothing is more meaningful to me.

No top film gross filling up her bank account. No agent or manager to consult her and connect her with the right people. Just a smart, non-celebrity who saw a need in the market that was not being met and did something about it.

People like Joy Mangano who created the Miracle Mop, or Sara Blakely who created Spanx. Marie Forleo whose multi-passionate business model branded her the leader in helping other business people make a “business and a life you’ll love”.

They may not specifically be “Lifestyle gurus”, but they made something that real people need – both men and women:  A good mop, a good way to smooth out that booty, and a beloved coach that will teach you to give something valuable to the world while earning a living on your own terms.

So, enjoy the Goops and the Reese Witherspoons and the Kardashian brands. They’re offerings are fun to behold. Maybe we can gather some interesting advice on life and style from them.

But I’d be careful about celebrities who claim to want to help you live a better life. In the end, you’re on the receiving end of a career strategy carefully cultivated by a team of people who’ve invested time and money into the overall celebrity brand of this person.

You may be bettering their lives instead. $$$$






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The ABC’s of How a Brand Makes you Feel

Silk scarf at ABC

Wall hanging at ABC Carpet & Home. NYC.

Oh, ABC Home & Carpet on 19th Street in NYC. I love you so.

I love your market bizarre flair, your raffish wares, your vendors who create handmade clothes, wellness products, jewelry and furniture. You live inside me. I want take up residence in your store as if it’s my own. You make me want to be a wealthy urbanite with an amazing open kitchen that flows into a mid-century modern living room that leads to a spa like bathroom fitted out with perfect beauty products made of salt rendered down from the soup of the Dead Sea.

I want to wear gauzy white linen dresses, smell like Myer lemon and scent my two bedroom apartment in Chelsea with incense made to perfection by a scent stylist from Nepal.

I want to pack a picnic with your fine silverware and head to the 79th Street Boat Basin, or escape for the summer weekend to my place in the Hamptons where your blond wood tables and your fresh linen sheets adorn my built out sunlit dining room.

Furthermore, I love your spiritual side. Each item you sell is soaked in the good intention – spiritual ethereal-ism – beautiful modes of making me feel like the customer I am – or at least want to be. Affluent. Modern. Self aware. Charitable. A leader. Creative. Educated. Meditative. Sleek. Soft. Urban.

This is not sarcasm. I truly love ABC Carpet & Home, much like I adore Anthropologie or Apple or JetBlue. These brands not only speak my language, they provide a vision of a lifestyle I strive for.

That’s the beauty of a brand that creates a feeling. For instance, the sleek, white and silver design of Apple products, cutting edge and technologically advanced, makes you want to be a part of the Apple world. Just walking into one of their stores, with their glass stairs, white walls, non-fussy displays and clean organization, encourages you to be part of the Apple experience in addition to being a consumer of the brand. You feel modern, of the times – compatible with software and the world around you.

JetBlue also falls into line with a feeling  with it’s blue model and easy reservation. The look of their newly designed cabins are dreamy – like the sky – where I’ll be soaring above the United States on my way back to New York.

Another example lies in the sweet candle aroma and Provence-like bohemia of Anthropologie. It’s the girly girl’s mecca, adorned with an eclectic flowy style, bringing out the customer’s own personal Stevie Nicks, allowing her to be “back to the velvet underground…in a room with lace and paper flowers.” Anthropologie allows a customer to inhabit the mindspace where she can be the “gypsy that I was” with a twinkly blue eyed Buckingham pining for her in song.

silk scarf through lamp light

Silk hanging at ABC Carpet & Home – through lamp light.

Jet Blue, Apple,  Anthropologie – they all create a feeling that fits into the image of our lifestyle.  But sometimes brands go beyond consumerism to create that feeling – and that’s a sense of purpose – a connection to charitable foundations.

Warby Parker, the eye wear website where you can buy frames for less, donates one pair of glasses to people in need. In addition to multiple charities Virgin has participate in, the one that stands out is their Health and Wellness initiative for corporations and Virgin Money Giving – a crowd sourcing platform allowing the charity minded to raise money for the cause of their choice.

Spirituality and global awareness in connection to the home is what lends itself to companies like ABC or any brand that sells nature based products.

When I was back home in NYC, I went to the second floor furniture department of ABC and noticed the usual mid-century modern displays were missing. Yes, there was furniture, but the showroom was transformed into an exhibit featuring the calligraphy works of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh .  There were silk tie-dyed scarves hanging from the ceiling.  Yogi and Buddha items were on clean wooden credenzas. It was a happy collection of texture and color.

The message of this amazing amalgam of Hanh and his life’s work melded with the concept of home. The sanctity of our sanctum. We bring in comfort, color and texture thoughtfully. Wood and clay grounds us. The lighting and aroma completes the picture.

That’s what I saw in ABC’s exhibit. The connect of spirituality and how it’s infused into the nature of home. It made me want to buy everything to recreate an ashram in my living room. The one in the Hamptons. Near the pool.

Branding is deep. Branding can stir feelings of who we are and who we want to become. I’m learning this as I build something of my own.

Now excuse me while I go daydreaming about my future a little more.