In this day and age, a social media presence for brands is almost mandatory. Today if you go on Twitter or Instagram’s new app, Threads, you will find an endless amount of brands like Pepsi, Whiteclaw, or even Starbucks trying to make Gen-Z memes to cultivate their online presence and sell more products. These legacy brands understand social media is the best way to connect to a younger audience compared to the traditional billboard or commercial. These companies have entire social teams with consultants, editors, strategists, and designers costing millions of dollars to replicate what someone like Emma Chamberlain started in her kitchen.
Influencers are now starting their own brands. Creators like Chamberlain, Logan Paul, or the Nelk Boys have a fanbase already built in. They’ve invested the past 10 years of their life cultivating an audience that trusts them. This allows them to sell products without having to spend millions of dollars on marketing like the bigger brands.
Influencers make most of their money from brand deals and sponsorships. Companies like Squarespace, Betterhelp, or Seatgeek are among the most popular brands to sponsor creators. It only makes logical sense for these creators to start their own brands next.
We did a deep dive on 3 different creator-started brands and how they’re changing their respective industries.
Emma Chamberlain initially went viral for doing vlogs in her kitchen where she showed the world how she made her ice coffee every morning. Her videos began to go viral and she quickly gained a large following. Today, she has 16 million followers on her Instagram and 12 million subscribers on her youtube. She was able to cross over into the mainstream doing interviews at the Met Gala where a clip of her with Jack Harlow went viral. She also did a house tour with Architectural Digest.
She started Chamberlain Coffee in 2020 which is already worth $30 million. Chamberlain Coffee is now found in popular stores like Erewhon, Whole Foods, and even Walmart. They launched a subscription service for monthly coffee shipments. A big part of the selling point is the coffee being sustainably and ethically sourced.
Logan Paul started out on vine, making 6 second comedy skits with his brother, Jake Paul. Since then he has been able to leverage his content to grow an audience on every platform with 23 million subscribers on his main youtube channel and 26 million followers on his instagram. He got into boxing in the past few years and even fought Floyd Mayweather (he lost). Most recently he has been a large part of the WWE and fought for the championship belt.
With all this momentum in his career it made perfect sense for Prime, his energy drink company, co-founded with KSI (13 million on Instagram and 16 million on Youtube). Prime Drink has grown rapidly on social media with almost 2 million followers, certain stores have sold out of the drink and at one point single bottles were reselling online for a thousand dollars. The energy drink has become the official drink of the UFC.
Logan Paul and KSI at WWE Wrestlemania
Happy Dad Seltzer was founded by the Nelk Boys. The Nelk Boys started off as youtube pranksters, but since then have pivoted their content to podcasting. The podcast now has 8 million subscribers on youtube. The seltzer became a hit with fans and started crossing over into the mainstream. In fact, Happy Dad has grown a larger following on Instagram than Whiteclaw. The seltzer can now be found at liquor stores, gas stations, and grocery stores across the country.
They sold a million cases in the first year and Worklife was actually one of the first activations for the brand. At our pop ups and events, Happy Dad was a very popular drink choice among people, who didn’t even know it was started by the Nelk Boys. The seltzer has been able to grow a fanbase on its own merits. The hard seltzer market is very competitive and the fact they were able not only compete but win over other brands is a testament to how important a fanbase is.
In conclusion, being a creator is a real business. How influencers communicate to their audience, build trust, and execute their business will determine their longevity in this field.