Joe Mimran: ‘You own your brand, you own your destiny’

The latest Dragons' Den star talks about being inducted into the AMA Hall of Legends

He first became known as a fashion industry icon. More recently he became a TV star on Dragons’ Den. Now Joe Mimran can add “legend” to his resume.

Mimran, who spent more than a decade as the creative director and public face of Joe Fresh, will be among the inductees this Thursday night at the Toronto chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) Marketing Hall of Legends.  Mimran spoke by phone with Marketing about what the honour means and the kind of landscape those following in his footsteps will be walking.

This kind of achievement will help identify you to others as someone to learn from. With that in mind, what kind of advice would you have for the next generation of marketer who wants to follow in your footsteps?

I’ve always said if you control your brand, you control your destiny. That’s been my rallying cry from day one. I’ve always been very brand-centric. And also the integrity of the voice of the brand has always been first and foremost in my mind. It all has to come together to tell this one, crisp story so it can be communicated very easily, not only to consumers, but also the people who carry the flag on your behalf. When you build the business with that in mind, you’re building it from the ground up, and your vision can take hold. It can travel. If you have a brand that can travel, it means it’s crossing boundaries, geographical boundaries. That allows you to operate in whatever part of the market you want.

What do you see as the biggest challenge (and/or opportunity) facing the industry as digital technologies reshape the way brands connect with and nurture relationships with their customers?

Multi-platform — that’s what makes it so challenging. Wherever the brand appears, it has to have this sort of consistency. It’s gotta ring true. I think that’s putting a lot of pressure on marketers today to be able to do that consistently. I think that really is the biggest challenge. The market has become very splintered. It used to be that campaigns were pretty easy – you’d lay out your print, your TV media and your PR program and that would be it. Now with social media, with influencers and all of the platforms on which you’ve got to be present, whether it be some of the social media platforms or some of the visual platforms like YouTube, it’s hard.  It’s become as complicated as algorithmic trading was to Wall Street.

When you look back on your career, what’s been the biggest and best learning experience? 

For me, it’s always been about challenging myself to continue to move forward, to think about new opportunities, to have a big vision, to just go for it. To not feel that you’re operating just within the Canadian marketplace. I’ve always worked as if the internet and ecommerce was in the ether and I’ve always thought about business in that way – that it’s got to go beyond borders. I think that’s been for me the most important thing, to stay fresh, look at what’s new.

Who’s in your personal Hall of Legends and what’s the most important way they helped support you in your career? 

It’s interesting because I’m going to be sharing the stage that night with Jeanne Beker, who I knew back in university. I’m going to be sharing the stage with Luke Sklar, who did work with me in the early ’90s when we were repositioning Club Monaco. Then they’re honouring Marshall McLuhan, who I studied in university – I had to read Parables of Reality and it was a very impressionable time in my life. I find lots of inspiration from all the people I’ve got to work with, whether they be artists, photographers, marketers. I’ve been blessed to have a really full, rich career.

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