Emmett Shine's Blueprint for Building Brands: 5 Principles That Will Help Your Brand Stand the Test of Time

May 29, 2024

Emmett Shine is a creative entrepreneur who has played a major role in the emergence of the direct-to-consumer movement. As the co-founder of NYC creative agency Gin Lane, he helped craft immersive online experiences for the likes of Sweetgreen and Stella McCartney. And with his latest venture, Pattern Brands, he's on a mission to bring more joy and meaning to people's everyday lives through thoughtfully designed home goods.

Throughout his career, Emmett has demonstrated a knack for turning challenges into opportunities and staying true to his vision in a shifting landscape. In this episode of The Marketing Factor, he shares his insights on everything from navigating economic disruption to creating authentic brands that stand the test of time. Along the way, he reveals a common thread: the importance of staying curious, adaptable, and true to your core, no matter what may come your way.

Dive into the full episode of The Marketing Factor with Emmett Shine here:

If you don’t have time for all of that, here are some key takeaways from our conversation:

1. Seize opportunities in times of disruption

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Emmett Shine's agency, Gin Lane, faced a major challenge as clients slashed their marketing budgets overnight. But rather than panic, Emmett saw an opportunity to pivot:

"When the markets crashed in 2008, all those advertising marketing budgets just ended overnight. I tried to go back to some of these businesses and say, well, I have a background in web design and web development. Maybe I could do some marketing for you guys online. And that really was the salvation of our little business."

By shifting Gin Lane's focus to digital marketing, Emmett was able to not only keep the agency afloat but position it for growth in a whole new era of advertising.

2. Do great work for cool people to open doors

When Gin Lane was just starting out, Emmett focused on building a strong portfolio by doing standout work for the creative folks in his network, even if it meant taking a financial hit:

"I'll do all your websites, branding, and photography for no money. All I ask in return is just please help me get work. It's worth it for me to lose money building cool stuff for you."

This strategy paid off big time as Emmett's collaborators went on to bigger roles and recommended Gin Lane to major brands like Stella McCartney and Adidas. Proof that a little goodwill goes a long way!

3. Create immersive digital experiences that put the user first

Gin Lane became known for creating immersive, user-centric digital experiences for major brands like Sweetgreen. Emmett and his team prioritized seamless user flows and high-quality visuals that worked across devices:

"We wanted to create photography and user flows that could work on desktop if you're at your office and want to order something and actually see the ingredients and customize it, or on your phone to pull up the website or app."

By putting the user first and pushing the boundaries of responsive design, Gin Lane set a new standard for engaging digital experiences that people actually enjoyed using.

4. Find small moments of daily joy in an always-on world

With his next venture, Pattern Brands, Emmett wanted to create products that could provide small moments of joy and calm in the always-on, anxious lives of millennials:

"Can you puncture your intense days with moments of flow that are normal? You don't need rock climbing shoes or a fancy bike. Can you just wash dishes or make your bed in a way that takes your mind off screens, work, anxiety, loans, and so on?"

The idea was that even the most mundane daily tasks, like cooking or cleaning, could provide a respite with the right beautifully designed tools. It's all about finding those little pockets of peace.

5. Go back to a brand's origins to stay true to its essence

To keep brands feeling authentic as they grow and evolve, Emmett always looks back to the founder's original vision:

"For brand stuff, I always go back to how and why things were founded. Even if the founder leaves or quits, that spark of zero to one is the fountain of youth to pull from."

By staying connected to a brand's origins, marketers can ensure it remains true to its essence even as it responds to changing times and new opportunities. Gotta remember your roots!

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