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March 25, 2009

Ecko-ing Success

Admittedly, Mark Ecko is a cultural icon that I admire and find intriguing. A white Jewish guy who has cemented himself as a central hip-hop/pop culture figure with a competitive business empire. He got his start as a graffiti artist (in 8th grade) and has spent the time since then growing his brand and market presence. What started as t-shirt art has now become a veritable lifestyle company rivaling the likes of Polo and Sean John (both companies that Ecko admires and learns from).

Ecko's story is found in an interview in the March issue of Inc. Magazine. What I love about this interview is that you can clearly see some of the thought processes behind key decisions at the Ecko company - for example the origins of the Rhino logo, and ruminations over the company name. He plainly talks about his initial aspirations and how he got started (love that he mentions writing his first business plan!).

Additionally, Ecko talks about how the message and meaning of his brand has really driven the direction of the company. His growth has been fueled putting the 'Ecko' spin on current events and by engaging the public in a manner reflective of the Ecko brand - thought-provoking, revealing, publicly informed and influenced.

What is interesting is how dramatically these brand-building, public discourse activities have impacted Ecko's retail growth though there is often no obvious link.

Ecko also discusses the decision to appeal not to the editorial fashion community, but instead to the "buying community". He wisely states "The gatekeepers aren't the goalkeepers"...Seems worth thinking about...

* Who are your gatekeepers?
* Who are your goalkeepers?
* Who do you try to appeal to?
* What drives the growth of your business?
* What fortifies and advances your brand?
by Adelaide

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