Branding: Johnny Cupcakes’ Recipe for Success


I’ve an in depth assortment of Johnny Cupcakes T-shirts—not as a result of the shirts are collectibles (they’re accessible anyplace), however as a result of I really like Johnny Earle, the model’s designer and founder.

He labored at a retailer referred to as Newbury Comics as a youngster, and his co-workers there cycled by means of plenty of colourful nicknames for him. In the future, they dubbed him “Johnny Cupcakes.” And the title caught!

Johnny’s rise to success as an entrepreneur began as a result of his band on the time wanted tees. Embracing his “Johnny Cupcakes” moniker, he created the now-famous “cupcake and crossbones” design. The shirts offered out shortly, and the model was born.

Johnny’s designs replicate his enthusiasm for popular culture and his enjoyable, energetic character. That very same character comes by means of at each step of the client journey.

His brick-and-mortar retailer seems like a whimsical bakery. His colourful web site contains enjoyable design components and fashions of all sorts. T-shirts arrive in a branded bakery-style field that, when opened, reveals branded tissue paper and laptop computer stickers (in addition to your shirt).

His dedication to making a one-of-a-kind model expertise has paid dividends within the type of cult-like model loyalty—a form of model hysteria that includes mile-long traces and model followers getting his emblem tattooed onto their our bodies.

I invited Johnny to Advertising Smarts to speak about how he constructed a model that conjures up such longstanding loyalty, and the way he is taken that model from the B2C house into B2B territory.

We recorded this episode of Advertising Smarts in our MarketingProfs PRO Fb group. When you’re a PRO member, be a part of us there for livestream movies and different unique content material!

Take a look at this video of our reside Advertising Smarts recording session with Johnny Cupcakes (or obtain the audio file—whichever you like).

Listed here are just some highlights from our dialog.

Make individuals part of your model expertise (00:00): “Pay attention, I make T-shirts. Anyone can go purchase a T-shirt for a fraction of the worth on-line or at a sequence retailer or on the mall. Why is any person going to purchase a thirty-six or forty-dollar Johnny Cupcakes T-shirt? And why will they arrive again and purchase it time and again?

“[For] the designs, clearly, tapping into nostalgia, popular culture. The hidden surprises that you simply would possibly get along with your shirt, inside your shirt, the tales that come hooked up with them. And simply being clear and never being this soulless, company emblem, however letting individuals in on the experience, the ups and downs of the journey.

“While you try this, individuals perceive somewhat bit extra of what they’re getting and they really feel part of it. As they need to, as a result of I’d not be right here with out these clients.”

Be the one who tells your story: discuss your model’s successes and failures (27:48) “For some time, I have been doing talking engagements. I received into it as a result of there have been different audio system speaking about my model as a case examine. There have been individuals writing books and that includes my model in these totally different advertising books, which I assumed was nice. And it was free publicity.

After which, as I received older, I used to be like, “Wait a minute, individuals ought to hear it from me. I ought to exit and let individuals know these experiments that I am doing, whether or not they fail or grow to be big successes.’ With a few of these talking engagements, some firms or organizations will ask if we will make a particular version shirt for them.

“In order that’s one of many add-ons to my digital talking and my bodily, in-person talking; [it’s] ‘we’ll work with you to make a particular version design and we’ll shock all of the attendees on the finish.’ It is like a miniature, teeny-tiny Oprah Winfrey second the place ‘you get a T-shirt and also you get a T-shirt and also you get a T-shirt.’ And we deal with all of the achievement so everyone working from house throughout the pandemic will get a shock despatched to them within the mail.

To draw model companions for collaborations, construct demand amongst end-users(29:00): “There are some locations that do not find out about my talking engagements or my model, however they need to rent us and we act as a mini design company, a mini artistic company. And we deal with the design, the manufacturing, and all that.

“With Gillette, we labored with them on constructing some extra loyal followers to join their shave membership program. And we introduced again their mascot from the 1950s, Sharpie the Parrot. The one method you may get considered one of these shirts is in case you signed up for the Gillette shave membership program.

“We did this with Home of Blues and we additionally did a extremely huge undertaking for Nutter Butter for his or her anniversary. We did particular version shirts and we designed a number of pop up retailers. It was a blast. So for me it was a blast, as a result of my staff and I received to make use of one other particular person’s model as a playground.”

To study extra, go to It’s also possible to observe Johnny on Twitter at @JohnnyCupcakes

Johnny and I talked about far more, so make sure to take heed to the whole present, which you are able to do above, or obtain the mp3 and hear at your comfort. In fact, you can even subscribe to the Advertising Smarts podcast in iTunes or through RSS and by no means miss an episode!

This episode dropped at you by Ahrefs.

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Branding: Johnny Cupcakes' Recipe For Success

“Advertising Smarts” theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.

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