Starting a company is hard. Starting a company in the middle of a recession seems impossible. But that is exactly what sisters Danielle and Jodie Snyder did when they launched their jewelry line DANNIJO in 2007.
DANNIJO is comprised of handmade pieces created by the pair in New York. Think bright bohemian necklaces, chunky mineral pieces and bold gemstone earrings. Got to love that and apparently a lot of people do.
Since launching five years ago, DANNIJO has been featured in every major fashion magazines, worn on countless celebrities walking the red carpet and is sold in high-end stores around the world.
By turning their small company into a mainstay for fashionistas around the world, there is no question branding played a big role in their success.
I caught up with the sisters to see what lessons other businesses can learn from the pair about branding.
Constantly change but remain the same. While it may sound like a contradictory statement, it makes sense. The key to a successful brand is to give your customers new products, so they keep buying more, while simultaneously keeping your signature look and feel. For DANNIJO, it doesn't matter the season or the trend, you can spot one of their pieces a mile away.
“Unlike a lot of jewelry brands we don't just do one look. We've really focused on the brand's underlying duality that stems from the difference between Jodie and my aesthetic," says Danielle. "It's always been a goal of ours to evolve while still maintaining a strong sense of DNA.”
As an entrepreneur, you need to take an objective look at your products and make sure they make sense. To create a loyal fan base, you have to constantly remind your customers why they loved you in the first place.
“Social media is the fastest way to expose a brand," says Danielle. "Everyone in and outside of your network is involved, so ideas can spread like wildfire."
Whether it is their own personal exotic vacations, the who’s who of New York City wearing DANNIJO jewelry to an event or the entrepreneurs' Fashion Week presentation, it is all documented on social media in real time.
With social media, “You can literally be in each other's lives in a way you never could have been before and that's not only great for branding, it's fulfilling," says Danielle.
It is about who you know. As much as entrepreneurs may hate it, the connections you have can make all the difference for your company.
If the fashion industry were high school all over again, DANNIJO would definitely be the popular girls in class. They have a slew of A-list friends -- everyone from Rhianna to Oprah and Beyonce -- wear their pieces on the red carpet and in everyday life. You don’t have to be a branding genius to know having celebrities photographed in your jewelry doesn’t hurt.
To perpetuate their brand even further, they have also embraced a new kind of celebrity: The blogger. For example, Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller constantly shows off her DANNIJO pieces to her loyal readers. Never discredit the influence of bloggers.
Don't be anywhere and everywhere. As an entrepreneur, it might seem crazy to turn down an opportunity to be carried at a store or have your product featured on a website. But just as retailers evaluate what makes sense for them, you have to look at what makes sense for your brand and products. If you don’t sell at the right stores, then you aren’t selling a lifestyle.
DANNIJO has been selective on what stores to partner with for the line, which has allowed them to propel their brand message forward. The type of customer they want to be wearing their products is the same customer shopping at high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop, Holt Renfrew and Harvey Nichols.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.