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In 2024, Think Like A Creator, Not A Brand

Plus: Marketing rules from Glossier, Lululemon, & Canva | Tiktok’s 2024 Trends Report | Hybrid won the return-to-office wars | And much more

Aloha! 2023 was quite a year, and 2024 isn’t waiting for us to get ourselves together. Time to go!

Btw, the world’s population hit 8 billion on Jan. 1. And expect AI to take more leaps and bounds in 2024—likely in video.

Today’s theme? Awaken your inner creator because outside influencers will only take you so far in 2024. Unless you hire Jessica Chastain, your audience wants the real humans behind your brand.

Also in today’s issue:

Table of Contents

Ready? Let’s go.

In 2024, think like a creator, not a brand

You’re not in control of your brand anymore. In fact, you never were. If you go by Marty Neumeier’s definition of brand as a “gut feeling” someone else has about a product, service, or company—then did you ever really have control?

Maybe brands had more in the 50s and 60s when their version of mass media really wasn’t so mass. But today, as the saying goes, everyone’s a media company—or a potential one.

If you have access to an audience (everyone does), a cell phone (almost everyone does), and wi-fi (60% of the world), then you are a one-person media company just waiting for your big moment.

The problem with this? People suck at media and content creation. Well, most do. The few who love it and continue to improve will dominate. And for better or worse, they are the influencers in our society. If they have good ideas that spread, then that’s great. If they have bad ideas, well, we’ve seen how that turns out.

And drowning in all this ocean of noise is little old you, trying to find a patch of water where you can raise your brand flag trying to get noticed.

“But I hate video.”

Yeah, but you love consuming it, don’t you? It’s the consumption or consumer part of your persona that you should pay more attention to, not the creator part. Because the creator side of you sees a challenge, and not necessarily a welcome one. The consumer side of you sees entertainment and escape—and it takes less effort to click to make that happen.

Your inner creator must appeal to your inner consumer.

You need consumers or viewers to follow and learn from you, be entertained by you, and respond to you. And if you can’t do that then marketing is just a roll of the dice. And forward-thinking businesses aren’t waiting for you, they’re building mini media companies.

Think about influencers. They could be shilling products inauthentically (for a buck) or going full bore for a brand they love.

It doesn’t matter if what they’re spreading is good or not, because they are the influencers of society and culture unless you (and I) do something about it.

Blogging Social Media GIF by Party Down

Meet your cultural influencers

You can just give in completely to the influencer economy—or join the de-influencers. But one thing’s certain. If you don’t become an influencer, a thought leader, or a voice in the community that matters most to your business, well then, don’t expect to have any sort of control over your brand, its narrative, and future.

And in 2024, expect more and more Creators to enter the fray. Expect the creator economy to really boom in 2024, which also means more noise or more competition (more noise is competition if you’re not mindful).

Sure, a great product goes a long way, and one could argue that a great product alone is enough to sustain an advantage—for some time. But products are copied. Features are swiped. Everything can be stolen with time and resources. And if a product is all you have, your brand will hit hard limits sooner than later.

A brand needs a point of view and a strong opinion. It needs a story and a vessel for that story. It needs someone who believes. It needs you to be the greatest influencer for your company.

Believe Jason Sudeikis GIF by Apple TV


Because, in the end, conviction wins over convincing people. And conviction will not come from some outside influencer with over 2 million followers. It’s going to come from someone inside your team—or you.

What am I saying? That you shouldn’t work with influencers? Not at all. But what I am saying is that you must become the primary influencer (read: believer) in your company.

2024 will see a ton of people leave their comfort zones because the new media requires it. This reality will hit your business hard if you don’t do something. Anything.

The Latest

Creative Bravery headlines their latest report. That means:

  • Bold storytelling

  • Getting vulnerable

  • Stepping outside the outside of the box

But the one trend I want to highlight is not a trend but a long-standing business principle: trust. And sure, it’s even more important today thanks to deep-fakes, AI, and blatant copying and plagiarism.

From the report:

TikTok has a lot of eyeballs, so pay attention to what’s going on there.

AI will play an even bigger role in eCommerce + retail

AI! AI! AI! Well, it’s not going away, and we will see more applications for it. But it’s not everything. MarTech has some predictions about eCommerce and retail in 2024, including:

  • Making every order option available for retail shoppers

  • Using AI for optimal tone and brand consistency

  • More shoppable ads will drive eCommerce sales

Let’s touch on brand voice & tone with AI. From the article:

Ecommerce brands can only approximate the human warmth experienced by a successful in-store purchase. But brands can go a long way with AI-powered chat and content creation if the models are trained right.

“Tone is critical when it comes to communicating with consumers and it can truly make or break a brand,” said Joscha Koepke, head of product at conversational marketing company Connectly. “Emojis, humor, empathy — these are all nuances that must be incorporated into retail and eCommerce communications to ensure messages come across as authentic in addition to personalized.”

It’s something that’s critical to Rep AI, and we want merchants to put more thought into distinguishing their brand from everyone else.

Brand Experience

Get started with behind-the-scenes content

On the “you must become the influencer” tip, part of that is incorporating more behind-the-scenes content into your social to give your brand a connection boost with your audience.

People want to know more about the people and products (particularly how they get made) behind the brand, and that won’t ever change.

Sprout Social gives you some great reasons to kickstart this content format in 2024. Here’s some to consider:

Here are 8 great BTS content initiatives to jumpstart:

  1. Development Diary: Share how you create new products or launching a new website feature. Provide some insights into the choices and challenges involved in the process.

  2. Day in the Life: Humanize your brand by showing the people behind the products. It could be a day with a customer service rep, your product designer, or the CEO.

  3. Customer Success Stories: Highlight customers who love your products or use them in unusual, fringe ways.

  4. Tech Talks: If you use specific technologies (like an AI concierge, for example), explain how they help improve the overall experience for customers.

  5. Feature Spotlights: Highlight features of specific products to educate customers on their benefits or how to use them best.

  6. Behind-the-Scenes at Events: Share experiences from trade shows, conferences, product launches, or other events (even if they’re online).

  7. Challenges and Solutions: Talk about challenges like logistics, product sourcing, or horrible customer service stories—and how your brand addressed these.

  8. Q&A Sessions with the Founders/Leaders: Q&A is great for establishing a personal connection with your audience. But be ready for anything.

  9. Innovation Sneak Peeks: Give sneak peeks of upcoming products or features to create buzz and anticipation.

  10. The Making Of…: Share how you create marketing campaigns, or how you source products, or even the design of your packaging. Bonus: go one step further and let people vote on their favorite concepts.

Brand Marketing in 2024

Specifically for you fashion nerds, here’s one from The Business of Fashion and Brand Marketing’s role in 2024.

Some quick takeaways:

  • Performance is underperforming because of costs and saturation. Become a better storyteller.

  • Changing Identity: Brands are rebranding to appeal to different audiences.

  • Leverage the personalities behind the brand to build more emotional connections with audiences (see above).

  • One Focus: Instead of the spray and pray method, brands are stepping back towards more focused campaigns and activations that take longer to develop.

From the article:

Undergirding this is a focus on the long-term story. This will require a mentality shift, with impact measurement focused on longer-term, strategic horizons, rather than instant return on investment — while blockbuster marketing campaigns can generate immediate buzz, maintaining consumer attention thereafter is a challenge.

Marketing Experience

5 marketing rules from Glossier, Canva, Lululemon, and more

Some interesting themes and patterns show up in many of these articles. Namely, number 4 on their list: Think like a creator, not a brand. From the article:

“Creators are leading the way now. They are defining the trends, defining the culture. So it’s really about connecting with those people and brands joining the conversation. If you asked me 2-3 years ago, it would’ve been the other way around – brands setting the trends. Now it’s definitely a creator world.” – Jackie Barker, Canva

See the full list below.

How one viral TikTok generated over $25,000 in sales for my business in a month

A great example of a Gen X founder jumping into the social media fray as a creator. If you’re still on the fence, consider Alice Kim’s story.

User Experience

CPG brand replaces video with best-selling product image for a 52% lift in conversions

Another winner from Blue Stout. In their words:

A CPG brand’s homepage featured a video at the top of the hero section. Only one problem: it featured a product that made up only 1.8% of total revenue. We replaced the video with an image of their top seller and copy that highlighted its direct benefits.

This change resulted in a 52% lift in conversions.

Customer Experience

5 Predictions about the future of Customer Success in 2024

Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta and SaaStr CEO Jason Lemkin discuss what they see coming for customer success in 2024.

Employee Experience

Hybrid won the return-to-office wars

6 out of 158 US CEOs said they’re going to prioritize bringing workers back into the office full-time. Just six.

If the pandemic did anything, it transformed the way we work forever.

Here’s Axios, with a nice summary on where we are right now.

Is AI a tool or a colleague?

In the last issue of The Fringe, my big prediction was that AI would be viewed as colleagues. Well, it seems that’s already happened.

This article on how AI alters middle managers’ work demonstrates the shifting relationship between man and machine. Check it out:

When more developed types of artificial intelligence—such as chatbots—were included in the AI systems, they were seen as colleagues.

"Artificial intelligence was sometimes given a name, and some teams even discussed who might be the mother or father of artificial intelligence. This led to different types of relationships between people and artificial intelligence, which should be considered when introducing or applying artificial intelligence systems in the future.


Data Experience

Brand Authenticity: A chart

Are you honest? Do you have integrity? Are you committed to quality products and services?

If you can answer a solid 100% yes to each of those questions, despite no real definition of “integrity” or “quality”, then you’re doing well by your customers.

Read more here:

Enjoy your weekend.


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