Stay True to Your (Brand’s) Heart

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding

December is here and we know what it means: year review and goals for the next one. Maybe you haven’t had the time to think about it yet, or is planning to do it only after Christmas or early January.

Regardless of your timing, it is tempting to look at the latest market trends and try to justify adopting one or two “just because”. Of course, some are here to stay and we all should incorporate it. Case in point: sustainability and social responsibility. However, if, for example, you are looking into the frenzy for clothing rental or resale websites that seem to promise the most stylish pieces or rarest vintage findings like it is the easiest thing to operate, take a deep breath and pause.

If you want to make changes or is thinking that is about time to have your own business and those (and any other) opportunities look promising, first ask yourself if you are willing to do it because you really believe in it. If the answer is yes, move on to do some market research, evaluate your competition and work on your business model, target audience and USP. If not, keep searching for a purpose that truly inspires and motivates. Don’t be afraid to show why you are passionate about it and find people (=customers) to share this passion with.

Trends come and go and businesses should adapt to them. But brands that pass the test of time learn how to use them to their benefit. They lead, don’t follow. They are self-aware and have a crystal clear vision of where they are heading to. It’s like what Coco Chanel used to say: “fashion passes; style remains” (by the way, this is pretty much Chanel’s essence till today). So, if you want to set one single goal for your brand in 2020: stay true to its heart!

PS: since we are talking about trends and closing a decade, remember what was predicted to happen 10 years ago and what exactly went through.

Real Brands vs Perfect Brands

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding

Diverse. Inclusive. Sustainable. Authentic. These are the current magical words to describe any brand willing to be well viewed by consumers. Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong about wanting to be all those things, the problem is that very few companies can actually be what they preach.

In today’s cancel culture, every little misstep can be a PR nightmare, so brands are trying to play it safe and blend in to please. However, that’s exactly where problems arise. First of all, remember that you can’t be all things to everyone, so stop trying to cater a universal message because you will probably end up in a void. Bear in mind that for startups or SMEs having a wide range of sizes can be highly expensive, so it might be better to opt to work with plus-sizes only or be clear about plans to scale it up as the business grows. The same applies to sustainability. We all know the most sustainable practice is to not buy new things, which is the great paradox in our capitalist society, so try to be transparent about your supply chain, material sourcing and social responsibility without sending misleading messages.

At the end of the day, we are trying to be perfect, which leads to the final issue. If you want to be perceived as an authentic brand, you cannot be perfect. Authenticity implies flaws, implies personality traces that maybe are not welcome by everyone. It implies emotions in order to be real, approachable and relatable.

Being true to yourself amid all this pressure to perform a pristine image is challenging. Nevertheless, it’s the only way to engage and have a meaningful connection with your audience.

If you want to see how to build a meaningful brand, check our services here.

How to Build an Archetypical Brand?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Archetypes

“I want to be the Lover brand, what should I do?” This is quite a common question on my talks and workshops. Usually, I reply by asking a few others, like “what are the emotions you want to communicate?” and “how do you want your consumers to feel?” Yes, emotions and feelings because archetypes are intrinsically connected to them and they are the key to build a meaningful brand.

So, if the core of your company is about intimacy and creating special relationships, you can probably be a Lover brand, but if you are not sure yet, here is a guide to help identify the main traits of each archetype and select the most suitable one for your business:

Innocent: The archetype is ideal for brands that promote simplicity, traditional values and a ‘return to paradise’ vibe. Faith and optimism are strong traits so as nostalgic and escapist feelings that can be translated into clean or natural elements to calm the senses and spread a positive message of hope and kindness.
Good examples: Stella McCartney, Universal Works, Burt’s Bees, Innocent drinks, Coca-Cola, Disney

Explorer: The archetype represents the quest for freedom, independence and discovering our own identity. It’s great for brands that want to help consumers in their journey into the world. Elements associated with adventure, nature and uncharted territories are an invitation to find the ‘promised land to be your authentic self’.
Good examples: The North Face, Patagonia, Timberland, Starbucks

Sage: The archetype represents the search for truth and wisdom. It’s ideal for brands that want to position themselves as experts, helping consumers to feel more intelligent, informed and knowledgeable. Books are the quintessential symbol but any environment or element that invites people to learn is welcome.
Good examples: The Ordinary, Paula’s Choice, Clinique, CNN, Discovery Channel

Hero: The archetype is all about courage and altruism. It represents our will to fight for what we believe and to overcome our fears. It’s great for brands that want to send a message of virtue, discipline and determination, advocate for social and ethical causes and offer performance-enhancer products.
Good examples: Nike, Under Armour, Fedex, Duracell

Revolutionary:  Bear in mind that the ‘forbidden fruit’ has an irresistible appeal and that we all need to break some rules in order to make meaningful changes.
The archetype works best when disruption, rebellion and controversy are applied to build an identity that feels unconventional, non-conformist and liberating but never destructive or damaging.
Good examples: Harley Davidson, Vivienne Westwood, Apple

Magician:  it is related to the body-mind connection, for being a catalyst for change and basically to make dreams and visions come true.
Brands should think about offering products or services that tackle some sort of alchemy: from well-being (spas and wellness) and conscious altering experiences (spirits and rituals) to visionary technologies (AI, VR). Just remember that magic is power and it requires confidence and responsibility!
Good examples: Aveda, Kiehl’s, Clarins, Polaroid, Red Bull, Dyson

Everyperson:  Focus on equality, empathy and relatability as this archetype is about fitting in and being in a friendly environment. Brands with a down to earth and democratic attitude that make consumers feel comfortable and part of a community will craft a great message to the regular guys and girls of the world!
Good examples: Uniqlo, John Lewis, Gap, Ikea, Wrangler, Nivea, Glossier

Lover: It’s all about romance, seduction, luxury and beauty. The archetype is associated with pleasure, indulgence, physical and emotional connections. Brands that craft a message of intimacy and celebrate the joy of special relationships are one step ahead to win the consumer’s heart!
Good examples: Chanel, Dior, Versace, Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Nars, Tom Ford, La Perla, Victoria’s Secret, Godiva, Magnum

Jester:  let’s have fun and live in the moment! The archetype is associated with playfulness, irony and a chilled attitude. Brands that craft a ‘don’t worry, be happy’ message and embrace spontaneity and simple pleasures can connect to consumers looking for a very well deserved break from everyday struggles!
Good examples: M&M’s, Diesel, Moschino, Soap & Glory, Ben & Jerry’s

Caregiver: It’s all about helping consumers care for others or look after themselves. Brands that craft a message of nurture, compassion and support, and aim to show genuine empathy through a flawless consumer service can touch a lot of helpless hearts!
Good examples: Dove, Johnson’s Baby, Red Cross, Tom’s, Nestle.

Creator:  vision and self-expression are key here. Brands linked to any form of art, that encourage consumers to show their creative views or develop new, innovative and unconventional approaches to let their imagination fly can create the perfect storm for the archetype.
Good examples: Prada, McQueen, Maison Margiela, Comme des Garçons, MAC, Urban Decay, Pat McGrath Labs, Marc Jacobs, Liberty, Lego

Ruler: It’s all about power and prestige. Brands that craft a message of safeness, status, structure and tradition can help consumers feel like they ‘made it’ and are in charge of their lives. In other words, it’s the archetype for leaders and role models!
Good examples: Amex, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls Royce, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Volvo, Smithson, Rolex, Ralph Lauren, Microsoft.

Retail Apocalypse or Lack of Brand Identity?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding

“Retail apocalypse” has become a ubiquitous term when we talk about the drastic changes happening on the high street. The latest reports about Barneys New York financial troubles and the struggles at House of Fraser and Debenhams just reinforce the idea that department stores are a thing of the past.

But when we take a closer look, it’s easy to see that shifts in consumer behaviour are not the only cause, after all other retailers, like Selfridges and Harrods, are doing pretty well. Which these troubled brands have in common is a loss of their identity. Barneys used to be a risk- taker and master of spotting new designers before they would become mainstream. Now, they just try to catch up by playing it safe. House of Fraser and Debenhams gave up on strategies to engage with consumers, opting for a never ending discount approach in a dull store environment that fails to attract anyone looking for a good shopping experience.

The forecast is bleak and without radical changes, there’s no hope in the near future. However, if they really want to turn things around, it’s time to look inside and reclaim a clear identity with a focused message. Instead of trying to be another sheep in the flock, find a niche in the market and aim to be the best at it. Yes, it’s hard to regain power when it is lost, but not impossible if the ultimate goal is to offer something meaningful to your customer. That’s how you start to turn things around.

Branding Sources: Books and Podcasts

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding

Here goes a list of books and podcasts that can surely bring some positive ideas and help to prepare yourself for the next steps:



  • Brand Builder: people, stories and lessons learned from the most innovative natural food and beverage brands in the world
  • On Brand with Nick Westergaard: a podcast about the art and science of brand building featuring interviews with leaders from a wide range of industries.
  • Business of Story: hosted by Park Howell, each episode brings storytelling professionals that show how to make your story marketing stand out.
  • Where Brain Meets Beauty: host Jodi Katz welcomes guests into an honest conversation about their career journey, from the struggles to the highs of working in the beauty market.
  • The Business of Fashion: needless to say, this one is absolutely essential for fashion professionals!
  • The Glossy: a half-hour chat about how technology is transforming the fashion, luxury and beauty industries with the likes of CEOs and entrepreneurs that are leading the way

How to Keep Consumers Engaged

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Cases & Strategies

In today’s overcrowded market, we can agree that brand loyalty is a massive challenge which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to have your consumer engaged at every opportunity.

But…How to do it? First and foremost, be very clear about what the brand is, what it stands for and show that you really care about them. Nothing new here, right? You probably have heard about the importance of being ‘authentic’ at least 100 times and it’s not rocket science to portray a relatable image. However, the simplest actions can be also the trickiest ones, so to make things easier; here goes a list of ideas to attract, entertain and make a difference with your beloved customers:

– The social in social media channels means you can have a direct conversation and should use as an open channel to check their reactions about everything: collections, products, customer service etc. Ask for suggestions, check if they are enjoying the purchases and reply all messages. Even when the feedback is negative, use it to evaluate what can be improved or changed.

– Be ahead of your consumer’s needs: anticipate seasonal needs (not in a ‘Floral? For spring? Groundbreaking’ way but in a way that surprises and show that you understand them. It may be a collaboration with other brand that makes an accessory that compliments your clothes offer, for example, or even a service that matches their lifestyle. Anything that meets convenience and care with a little charm is always very much appreciated.

– Speaking of social media and collaborations, make consumers feel like they are part of the creative process. Make polls on Instagram Stories and ask for their opinion about colours and shapes for the new collection, for instance. Or embrace UGC as a tool to build a community around the business.

– Showing the human side can be a great idea, if the brand embraces it. The recent John Lewis & Partners campaigns reinforce the notion that everybody matters by showing the people behind different departments.

– Moreover, show your creative process, how the products are made and your supply chain. If you advocate for sustainable practices it is imperative to show evidence that you follow ethical guidelines and live by them.

– Special clients need special attention. Your oldest and/or best customers deserve to know they matter. Every now and then treat them with something extra that will surprise and amuse!

– Last but not least: always remember that people don’t buy just a product, they buy other people’s dreams and aspirations! Be kind, be human, be inspiring and treat your consumers as you like to be treated.

Image: Vogue Paris

Entrepreneurial Lessons: Sabinna Rachimova, Founder of Sabinna

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career

Sabinna Rachimova has always been interested in craftsmanship and from an early age learned how to crochet, knit and sew from her grandmother. Years later, her passion became her job when she founded Sabinna, a conscious fashion label made in Europe. In this interview she talks about her first experiences in the industry, the challenges to build the right team and why you should build your own unique success story

Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand?
Sabinna Rachimova: I was always into handcraft, I learned how to crochet, knit and sew from my grandmother. Later, I became interested in fashion history and contemporary fashion design. I did my first internship when I was 14; I worked for an Austrian fast fashion company, sorting out their archive. Every job I had since then, and I had many, was connected to the fashion industry. After graduating from high school, I tried my luck and applied at Central Saint Martins and could not believe when I got accepted. By then I already knew, I was going to start a fashion brand some day.

Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Sabinna Rachimova: Running your own business means facing all type of challenges every day. I would say the financial challenges are definitely the hardest. I need to make sure to plan ahead, generate enough cash flow, get sponsors where needed. Another challenge is finding the right people to join the team. It isn’t only about the skillset but also about the mindset.

Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Sabinna Rachimova:  Be prepared to work hard! The best way to find out if something is working, is to try it out. And last but not least: Don’t try to copy an existing success story, see it as inspiration to create your own path.

Learn more about Sabinna here:

Entrepreneurial Lessons: Vilija Buteniene, Co-Founder of Huedash

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career

Shopping online is part of our everyday life but it doesn’t mean that we are having a pleasant experience browsing, searching and not always find what we want. Enters Huedash, a customer engagement tool that help brands turn customers into active, authentic and relatable influencers. It’s simply the future of e-commerce, as its co-founder Vilija Buteniene points out. In this interview, she talks about the idea behind the app, how the best lessons come from mistakes and the importance of having a strong vision.

Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand?
Vilija Buteniene: Together with my co-founder, we’ve realised that people come in all different shapes and sizes, fashion comes in many different tastes and guises. So everything is a story. We wanted to enable people to tell their visual stories. Here at Huedash, we believe that everybody is an influencer, and our platform lets them discover to inspire.

While following all-stars influencers, I have realised that it had become more difficult to find a more relatable and more authentic view, shared by “real” people. Stories told by customers are more relevant to other customers. Authenticity and trust are at the core of how influence works. Even being a techie, I must admit that there is still no substitute for the connection between people, and technologies help us explore and produce innovative ways of enhanced shopping and consuming in general.

We were confident we would enable people to share their powerful stories, to turn from customers into active promoters of their favourite brands. Since Huedash users own the products they are promoting, their recommendations a lot more authentic and relatable. Huedash works as a mobile app and a website where people shop from peer photos, create their own shoppable posts and earn rewards for promoting their recent purchases, and redeem them for new products. We also see the power of crowd-styling as one of the solutions to extend the lifecycle of clothes as customers can find more new ideas to wear the same item longer.

A strong vision that there is a space for more relatable and natural shopping delivered by customers was the core inspiration that gave us motivation to start building a shopping app, approaching cool UK’s fashion brands and start gaining the first customers. It has been an amazing journey so far and together with our team, we’re shaping the way we are shopping for fashion products today.

Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Vilija Buteniene: Launching a new brand is always related with some challenges, that’s why it’s exciting to start a new business. This business is the third one for me, so I was aware of some challenges I’d been going to encounter already. We’ve been working on this project for 2 years now, and we’ve got a moderately expensive mistake made by choosing the wrong advertisement campaign. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to learn from this and make a better choice next time.

Fashion tech is very fast paced and you must be aware of changes in customer preferences. You have only 8 seconds to capture anyone’s attention and keep them engaged with your content. So you must get ready and get real. People have no time for the long journey from discovery to purchase as they browse and shop on mobile devices while on their journey home or to work. They want relevant content, they want more transparency and trust in the existing influencer marketing activities and they want recommendations by ‘real’ people. As a startup, we’ve been searching for our unique identity that would resonate with our target audience, the one that people could easily relate to. Making right decisions on what next steps you need to take in igniting people with your vision, bringing customers to your platform is a huge challenge as well as the most exciting and rewarding activity an entrepreneur could ask for.

When you work in a tech startup, there are so many opportunities and directions you could choose, however, only a clear focus and the right priorities will bring the startup to the next step. From our early customers, first brands we’ve got so many insights, suggestions and requests, and including our own ideas on new features it had become unmanageable – which one is our priority, is this one absolutely needed, will this activity bring Huedash towards our vision? – these were the questions we needed to ask before each task. This was an important lesson we’d learned after a one year’s work together as a team.

Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Vilija Buteniene: Start today: bring a piece of paper and write down your ideas, your vision, why it’s important to you and others, what resources you will need. Try taking even a very small step each day, it’s a good feeling, knowing that you’re working towards your vision.

Learn more at

3 Essential Questions to Answer Before Launching a Business

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Business, Fashion

Are you planning to launch a business? Before going ahead with the idea, here is a quick guide with 3 essential questions to be answered in order to evaluate your growth potential:

1-      What kind of business are you building?

– Lifestyle business:  it can be based on a hobby or something you have learned/trained for and usually doesn’t demand a massive investment. A large portion of creative businesses start like this.

– A corporation: something that may scale fast and need a proper structure: staff, office space, external funding from VCs or a significant bank loan. Tech and financial companies usually run in this category.

– A side gig: that extra income that you don’t plan to turn into the unique source of income. Something that you enjoy doing but at least in the near future don’t see as a full time job.  It can be associated with arts & crafts, culinary talents or being a private tutor, for example

2-      What’s the market size?

Is there a gap in the market worth exploring? To answer this question, do a market research so you’ll find out if the business is viable and scalable. Maybe you’ll realise that the side gig has the potential to be turned into a lifestyle business or that idea for an app demands more investment than you thought. When you size up the market, the potential for profit, and who are your target audience, you have a clear picture. So learn about it, do surveys, focus groups and get as much feedback and data as you can, to prove your point and build a relevant business.

3-      Can you make money out of it?

The final and more important question. Now it’s time to project revenues and profit. This includes the initial amount of money to be invested, fixed and variable costs and lots of spreadsheets that may drive you crazy at first sight but will actually help in the process of reaching goals. If it’s too much to handle, don’t hesitate in getting professional advice. Plan carefully and don’t take any step until you feel confident and prepared.

More resources:

The 5 Essential Steps to Launch a Brand

How to Balance the Emotional and Rational Sides in Brand Building

How to Create a Brand?

How to be a Freelancer in the Creative Industry

Entrepreneurial Lessons: Jessica Kruger, Founder of Luxtra Bags

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career

Fashion has always been a passion for Jessica Kruger but from a young age she knew if she would ever venture in the industry she had to make a difference. Luxtra  was created initially as a regular accessories brand but this year, Jessica decided to discontinue the use of leather and adopt materials like Piñatex – a.k.a. pineapple leather. The first bag using the material is available now and will soon be followed by card holders and travel pouches. All vegan and super sustainable!

In this interview she talks about her journey from Australia to Paris, the challenges to embody an entrepreneurial mindset and why all you need to start a business is having the guts!

Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand? 
Jessica Kruger: Fashion was my first love. No…. My second. When I was 8, I wanted to be a scientist, because my grandfather, a physicist, showed me inspiring experiments. But i also just drew dresses and dresses, and my mum taught me to sew at a young age.

Towards the end of high school, you hear that fashion doesn’t pay. My father is an accountant so money mattered. I pursued architecture and then a regular Arts Degree.  I moved from Australia to Paris and along the way eventually made my way back to fashion. But thanks to my upbringing, it had to be from an angle of making fashion better for the planet.

Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far? 

Jessica Kruger: Coming from a modest Australian family, I knew no one in Europe. I have always felt like an outsider, which I know many people also feel. As a young girl, my sister and I were taught not to be opinionated, never to contradict, there was a limit to how many questions we could ask. We were conditioned to be meek and compliant girls.

This has been my biggest challenge: Learning to say what I want in unapologetic language (yet also blending in the politeness I cannot shake off) to get what I want and need. I am learning to be less of a people pleaser. I’m making progress.

Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Jessica Kruger: 1. You need to simply *start*.  2. You don’t need industry experience. It could help, of course, but it can also be a strength if you don’t have it. I started a restaurant in central London with no experience. And now with my second business, have created a sustainable fashion brand. I knew nothing about either industry, but just charged right on in.

My advice is to have guts. The way I see it is that life is far too short. Personally I want to make an impact and I never EVER want to think “what if”…  so I just get right on and dive in.


Make a plan. Break it down as small as you can, and start with the tiniest baby steps. What is one thing you can do TODAY to get you closer to your dream. TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not after your next pay cheque.


Learn more and follow Luxtra: