Erika Napoletano: The Power Of Unpopular Helps You Develop Your Brand

Jay Baer from Convince and Convert recently interviewed Erika Napoletano, author of The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters). The book discusses branding and brand personality, challenging businesses to build a brand that has an audience robust enough to support it through any economic cycle.  To do this, the author came up with the Five Principles for the Unpopular Brand.



She stresses the difference between unpopular and unlikeable, explaining that “when you make an unpopular business decision, its about honoring your audience…to ensure that we’re here to do business for you and with you long into the future.” She cites the example of a recent ad campaign by Reebok which was pulled because it advocated infidelity and alienated 50% of that brand’s audience base. Much of the theory of being unpopular emphasizes the need to stop trying to please people who still are never going to like you. Instead, practice segmentation and focus, and excel at one thing instead of being okay at many. Instead of falling into the pervasive belief that niche means lesser, realize that all it really means is focused.



One helpful chart methodology in the book has an exercise titled “Let’s figure out who is never, ever going to hire you.” To determine who a business is for, it is easier to say who the business is definitely not for.  And through this process of elimination, you get to your core audience.   Stemming from the Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” concept, businesses can figure out whom they are talking to.


The author explains that businesses and brands begin with the people behind them, and that the brand is a who and never a what.  Therefore, the author considers personality the number one job for a brand. In her view, business owners should think about their brands in the same way they think about the people in their lives. This way, “[they] can begin to understand how people keep brands in their lives as friends.”


Jay praises the frequent use of examples of great companies that best show how to brand and be unpopular on purpose. Detailing how she went about choosing which example companies to use, Erika explained that regardless of the size and scale, “most of us wake up every morning and we just want to run a business that makes us happy, that gives us the time to do the things that we love doing and allows us to own a business instead of hae\ve our business owning us.” With this in mind, Erika researched businesses that were privately owned (and in many cases family owned) which fit the mold. She worked with HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and used previous research from her column for Entrepreneur Magazine to find good examples.




In lieu of including end of chapter workbooks, the author opted to build a fully interactive forum on She hopes to have others share ideas and questions to transform it into a sort of  “wiki knowledge base” entrepreneurs. Other works by the author can be found on her online persona in RedheadWriting.


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