Olsen Duo’s Branding Savvy Fashions Empire

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are iconic, to say the least, to my generation. We grew up wishing we led the charmed life of Michelle Tanner on Full House and watched “To Grandmother’s House We Go” so many times we wore out our VHS tapes. The billionaire twins have been successfully building their brand since they were in diapers and today they have billions to show for it.

Three clothing lines (Olsenboye to debut this year), two television shows, a jewelry line and more than 20 movie titles later, the “11th richest women in the world,” according to Forbes, are literally taking over the world. They have perfected the idea of “personal branding” and exemplify what it means to be the total package. Today, more than ever, it is important to keep building your brand and leveraging it to bolster your reputation. The world is moving at such a rapid rate and so many new brands are emerging that there are more threats to your brand than there were even five years ago. For the Olsens, this really doesn’t seem like a problem, they are experts at keeping their brand ahead of the game by constantly re-creating themselves and taking on new projects, all while remaining true to the strong and wholesome image they created when they were just nine months old. In a September 2011 article in the Huffington Post, Ashley Olsen explains the basis of their brand and what has made them so successful, “We look at a million opportunities a day; it’s very personal for us.” I think it is the personable touch and care they take with everything they produce that sets them apart from other celebrities — they really care about what they do. Celebrities practice personal branding all the time, but few have really mastered it as have MK & Ashley. Do you really think their clothing lines have been successful only because they are “cute” or “trendy”? Nope. It is because the dynamic duo had already branded themselves so well in the years before they released the line. People buy them — not their clothes and they are well in-tune with that concept. A Daily Beast article focused on the twins and how they managed to build a new clothing line from that ground up that even First Lady Michelle Obama is wearing. What other 20-something designers can say they have garnered such a trustworthy reputation that the most high-profile woman in the U.S. would support them? I can’t name any.

Though these fraternal twins have had years to perfect their brand, they have marketed their image better than anyone in their generation and I think it is impressive how they continue to grow and change. They have kept up remarkably well with changing trends in all aspects of the markets they target. From popular shows (Ashley recently appeared on “Weeds” ) to what people are wearing this year, the twins are incredibly in touch with their audiences and that I think it what really sets them apart. Designer Yeohlee Teng describes their brand and how it aligns with the fashion industry in The Daily Beast article mentioned above, “The whole point is reinvention — not what it was, but what it can be.”

I would encourage others, especially in my generation, to follow their example when building their own brand and take notes on all they have done right.

Here are 10 ways YOU can start successfully building your personal brand.

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4 Responses to Olsen Duo’s Branding Savvy Fashions Empire

  1. caolson says:

    I would have never viewed the Olsen twins as great personal branders until this post. But honestly, the more I think about it, unlike many celebs their age, they were able to avoid, for the most part, the drugs, alcohol, and general messes that other celebs have gotten themselves into … and they have remained a generally classy pair of young, well-off celebrities. I think their ability to stay true to themselves and their passions, and resist being completely consumed by the spotlight, have definitely allowed them to become the successful professional branding mavens they are today.

  2. rsteinga says:

    I think this post is right on point and promotes a very sustainable model of branding. If I am not mistaken, the Olsen twins live notoriously private personal lives but are able to connect with their audience in a very personal and individualized manner. It seems that they have tried to invest very carefully when it comes to what they put their name on, and while they might be involved in lots of different projects, they manage to make everything fit together.

  3. smwillar says:

    This was a very focused response! I’ve always thought of the Olsen Twins as under the radar but always on the “scene” in one form or another. I agree that they are the perfect example of personal branding geniuses because they have always maintained a good reputation and understand what it means to constantly improve oneself. And the “10 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand” article was great supplemental info! It was interesting reading about these people who started out from relatively modest means and grew their brand into successful businesses. I actually recognized Dan Schawbel from a “Must See Monday” on personal branding last year so that reinforced my understanding of this concept.

  4. abwolfe says:

    What I find most incredible about this is that they manage to keep their personal brand so valuable after years of nearly disappearing from the spotlight. Outside of Mary-Kate’s eating disorder, they haven’t been in the spotlight since they were pre-teens. Their younger sister is now a rising star, but that has no affect on the twins’ empire. They still manage to sell clothes and products despite being nearly irrelevant.

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