CHAPTER 16OPRAH WINFREY

ON BUILDING A ONE-PERSON BRAND

The purpose of this book is to celebrate people whose influence has gone beyond the bounds of their own company. As such, it would have been difficult not to mention Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. They have had unparalleled success in the business of influence, and their brands resonate with people at a level rarely achieved before they came onto the scene.

I would guess that Winfrey and Huffington are no great fans of advertising. Despite this, following Lee Clow’s thinking, a lot of what they do could be considered as advertising, or at least promotional. Each, in her own way, has patiently built a brand of very great value, in both symbolic and financial terms. Like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, Winfrey and Huffington are the indisputable faces of their companies—but each one’s name has become the brand. They embody what is now known as personal branding—and Winfrey, like Huffington, is a paragon of her time.

The Ultimate Celebrity Brand

Winfrey understood very early on that she was a brand—and she had strong intuition about how to progressively shape it. In doing so, she has become an iconic brand.

Some years ago, Airbnb and TBWA\Chiat\Day worked together on a research paper about what makes a brand iconic.1 Their work indicates that truly iconic brands embody all five of these attributes:

  1. They are instantly recognizable.
  2. They create deep emotional connections.
  3. They have a universal value proposition.

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