Emily Heyward | OBSESSED: Building a Brand People Love from Day One

Show Notes

Startup branding expert, Emily Heyward shares how she successfully started the Red Antler agency, about BRANDING 101, why branding is more than just a name and a logo and the keys for effective networking.


  1. Thrivetime Nation on today’s show we are interviewing Emily Howard who is the co-founder and chief brand officer of Red Antler. She works closely with founders to develop purposeful, strategic visions for their start-ups and has led branding efforts for top companies such as Casper, Allbirds, and Brandless. She was named among the Most Important Entrepreneurs of the Decade by Inc. Magazine, and has also been recognized as a Top Female Founder by Inc. and one of Entrepreneur’s Most Powerful Women of 2019. She is based in Brooklyn.
    1. NOTES: https://www.inc.com/leigh-buchanan/most-influential-entrepreneurs-2010s.html
    2. https://www.inc.com/magazine/201810/inc-staff/shonda-rhimes-and-other-empire-builders-female-founders-100.html
    3. NOTES: 
    4. During her 12+ years building and running Red Antler—the leading branding and marketing company for startups—Heyward has not only witnessed the landscape evolve; she has helped shape it. Now, with OBSESSED, she helps readers understand how these category-defining businesses have been built and what it will take to become the next Warby Parker or Everlane.
  1. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Emily Howard, welcome onto the Thrivetime Show, how are you mam!? 
  2. Emily Heyward for all of the listeners out there that are not familiar with Red Antler, I would love for you to share what this company does?
    1. We are the leading branding company that specializes in startups.
    2. Our clients come to us before they exist or even have a name.
    3. We bring them a brand and a website. We ensure that everything they dream of comes to life.
  3. Emily Heyward What does branding mean to you?
    1. Most people think it’s a logo.
    2. To us, branding is having a clear sense of what a business stands for and what feeling you want to give off. 
    3. Most people think branding is a one time action. It is constantly evolving. 
  4. I know that you’ve had a ton of success at this point in your career, but I would love to start off at the bottom and the very beginning of your career. What was your life like growing up and where did you grow up?
    1. I was born in New York City.
    2. I was very into the Jam Band thing
      1. I loved the Dave Matthews Band
  5. Emily Heyward When did you first figure out what you wanted to do professionally?
    1. I was fascinated by pop culture and film. 
    2. I really went deep into asking “Why do we love the things we love?”
    3. I knew I wanted to create a career in finding what makes people tick in pop-culture.
    4. I landed an internship at an advertising agency.
    5. I loved advertising at the very beginning.
  6. How did you start your first company? 
    1. I was learning a ton and made great relationships but I felt like my learning curve hit a ceiling.
    2. We wanted to be the first branding company that worked with start-ups.
  7. Emily Heyward How did you go about funding your first company?
  8. How did you go about getting your first 10 customers?
    1. It’s about cultivating a great network of relationships. If people feel like they are reaching out to them just to network, it can put them off. You have to build relationships. 
    2. In the early days, we offered a lot of free advice and flexibility. We would always bring value. 
    3. One of our big clients is Casper
  9. When did you first feel like you were truly beginning to gain traction with your career?
  10. Emily, what inspired you to write your new book OBSESSED: Building a Brand People Love from Day One?
    1. It was over a decade of partnering with great people that taught me how to obtain success.
  11. Emily, how would you describe the experience of building a company from the ground up (and when the odds are stacked against you);
  12. Emily Heyward, what career advice would you have for the aspiring entrepreneur?
  13. Emily in your book OBSESSED: Building a Brand People Love from Day One, you talk about how branding and consumer psychology has evolved in the past decade…I love to have you share more about this?
    1. Casper had the idea to completely change the mattress industry.
    2. I would have people tell me that they love Casper so much even when they’ve never even seen a Casper bed in person. 
  14. What is Away?
    1. Away is a brand that is a great example. 
    2. They have one suitcase and it is very simple. 
  15. Emily, who do you believe that today’s most successful brands need to take a stand for an important cause?
  16. Emily Heyward, I would love for you to share about how today’s thriving brands tap seem to be able to tap into their consumers’ identities, aligning their values with their target audience;
  17. Emily, why is it important for brands to share the human side of a business—and founder—drives brand love?
  18. I know that you are a serial entrepreneur who has experienced massive success and super low points…walk us through the highest high and the lowest low of your career?
  19. When you were at the bottom, what did you learn most from this experience?
  20. You come across as a very proactive person…so how do you typically organize the first four hours of your and what time do you typically wake up?
  21. What are a few of your daily habits that you believe have allowed you to achieve success?
  22. We find that most successful entrepreneurs tend to have idiosyncrasies that are actually their super powers…what idiosyncrasy do you have?
  23. Emily Heyward Folks if you are serious about connecting with your ideal and likely buyers in a real way I would encourage you to go out there and buy OBSESSED: Building a Brand People Love from Day One today!
    1. This is a great time to read the book, there is a lot of innovation that is going to be happening. 
  24. What is it like working with you?
    1. We don’t have a set rate. We can always offer value. We love meeting new entrepreneurs.
  25. What is one thing you want people to know?
    1. If you have an idea, you have to go for it because if you don’t, someone else will do it and you will be filled with regret.
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