An award-winning entrepreneur, Johnny Cupcakes has built his career on his ability to inspire cult-like brand loyalty – the kind that involves mile-long queues and even permanent tattoos – despite working within one of the most difficult product categories to stand out in.
Johnny is the founder of the world-renowned t-shirt brand, Johnny Cupcakes, a brand he launched at just 19 years old. His goal was to create such a unique brand experience that his customers would loyally line-up around the block, time and time again, just to be able to sport his logo on their clothing.
Now, with global store openings, thousands of customers with his logo tattooed on themselves, people camping out for his products, and high-profile collaborations with giants such as The Simpsons, Power Rangers, and Nickelodeon, Johnny has been named “America’s #1 Young Entrepreneur” by Business Week, “Top Innovator in Retail” by The Boston Globe, and featured in Inc. magazine as the CEO of one of the world’s fastest growing independent businesses.
We spoke with Johnny to learn more about his creative inspiration and why he feels building a unique brand experience for customers is the only way to go.
You’ve made a career out of being creative and innovative — how do you stay fresh and keep the spark of creativity alight in yourself and your team?
By doing more of what we love and by eliminating as much of the gunk that keeps my team and I from blooming. For example:
- Instead of having draining day-to-day meetings, we’ll spread them out or have quick mini meetings with actionable steps.
- When I’m feeling I need a spark of creativity, I’ll go for walks, read books, switch up where I work, or attend an inspiring event, like CME Expo!
- Pulling inspiration from customers by using social media as a conversation and place to poll people as to what they’d like to see from us.
- Themes! Themes! Themes! Theming a product, an event, a marketing campaign, or a design creates curiosity and celebration. We know each year we’ll be coming out with our spooky Halloween t-shirts and sometimes I’ll even personally get delivered in a real hearse and coffin when the doors open to our release! One summer we made ice-cream-themed t-shirt designs, we packaged them up in gigantic ice cream packaging, and we rented out ice cream trucks in different cities using them as pop-up shops!
There’s 101 things you can do to inspire yourself, your team, and your customers!
How did you battle the “what ifs” when you decided to dive head first into launching Johnny Cupcakes?
For better or for worse, I’ve always been a glass-half-full type of guy. I look at failures as experiments and experimenting is how we grow. Taking projects on in small bites help make the bigger picture feel less overwhelming, plus approaching problems with solutions instead of panic and buffering in a little bit of time, money, and back up plans for the potential “what ifs”.
Why is creating a unique experience for your customers so important to you? And how can others adopt this thinking and use it to further their ideas, careers, organizations, etc.?
It’s the only way! People have so many options, why will they take a risk with you? It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, we are all fighting for the attention of others, the loyalty of our existing customers, and ways to stay fresh and relevant. I believe it is crucial to have at lease a dozen differentiators that make you unique. Maybe an organization can have a show and tell day at the office, where each employee brings in something that caught their attention or loyalty? Perhaps a company can bring their team on more field trips? Better yet, an organization can bring in a guest speaker multiple times throughout the year to inspire everyone.
The most important thing an organization can do, is not settle for less. If you want customer loyalty, you must be loyal to your customers. Experience is the pinnacle of creating that loyalty.
The founder of a world-renowned brand, Johnny Cupcakes helps people to create blueprints for building brand loyalty, creating memorable experiences, and inspiring innovation.
Interested in learning more about Johnny and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].