In the wake of his death, it is only fitting to discuss how one man turned his lifestyle into a multi-million dollar brand. If you can believe it – Hugh Hefner, of Playboy Enterprises, had humble beginnings. He married his high school sweetheart and worked for a children’s magazine as a promotion director and writer. This wholesomeness was tossed to the side when he entered his late 20’s and started his very own magazine that featured the iconic Marilyn Monroe – selling 50,000 copies immediately. As Playboy continued to grow, Hefner found his way onto television hosting “Playboy’s Penthouse” and “Playboy After Dark.” A multifacet brand was born. Quickly, he found ways to turn his lifestyle into business opportunities by opening Playboy bars (where the iconic bunny attire was founded) and clubs. His story, lifestyle and preferences formed the core of Playboy’s brand messaging. Hefner offered a compelling story, likeable charisma and content people wanted. So how has the Playboy brand maintained its presence since 1952?
– Lifestyle + Product: Playboy sells the dream. Nobody buys Playboy-branded products because they want to be Hugh Hefner. They buy because they want a taste of his lifestyle. His lifestyle is the product and the website, magazine, clothing, tv shows are the taste.
-Expertise: Hefner is credited with building a brand that helped shape the sexual culture of the second half of the 20th century. The brand is an unofficial expert in what we want but is too afraid to ask for.
-Authenticity: He built his brand by being himself. Nothing more, nothing less. While he may have presented (or created) an idealized version of himself, there was honesty and integrity.
-Consistent + Persistent: The brand, while growing exponentially has been consistent every time and everywhere their target audience encounters them, their message has made significant impacts every step of the way.
-Engagement: He didn’t build his empire by sitting around and waiting for it to happen. He was out there engaging with everyone and anyone who would listen, he became recognizable and trustworthy.
Cooper Hefner, Hugh’s son said: “He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognisable and enduring in history.” While you may not agree or like what Playboy is selling, you’ve got to agree with Cooper’s statement. Read more here.