back to top
Teri Bockting

A Nasty Gal’s Lesson in Branding

Like every other working woman on the planet, I’m currently reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso, the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal. And while the name may suggest otherwise, I promise that won’t infect your Macbook with a virus – it’s the fastest growing e-commerce website with 29-year-old Sophia, a former dumpster diving, shoplifting and anti-corporation American woman at the helm. Quick video synopsis here.

At Blind Society, a branding agency in Arizona, we talk a lot about identifying your best customers. Why? Because we know that the best brands have been built for these customers – not their founders or “the general public.” The most successful brands are okay having a point of view and building a community for the people who align with those beliefs. As we say at Blind Society, “you can’t be everybody’s BFF.” Since she launched Nasty Gal seven years ago, this has been Sophia’s approach: having a strong point of view and listening to her customers. Well, Sophia’s $240+ million company is another reinforcement that our approach works. Here’s an exerpt from #GIRLBOSS on how to build a brand with a cult-like following.

Customer service was my number one priority. A lot of people run their businesses like their customers are dummies. This is a mistake. If you’re just out to take their money, they know it. But if you genuinely care about what you’re doing, they will respond. I knew my customers and knew what they liked. And rather than dictating what I thought my customers should buy and wear, I listened instead. If I bought something and they hated it, I moved on. Rather than force my idea of what Nasty Gal should be on my customers, I let them tell me along the way. Nasty Gal felt like the best-dressed girl’s best-kept secret— except that it was a secret she really wanted to share. As I mentioned earlier, one key to running a successful business is to know how to get free marketing. 

Rule number one? That’s simple. Just do a good job. Through the styling, photography and voice of the brand, Nasty Gal was an exciting place to shop, but if our customers weren’t equally as stoked when they were holding one of our products in their hands, then that excitement lived and died on the Internet. I don’t take it lightly when someone buys something from me. I know there are a million places where people can buy a dress, a crop top, or a pair of shoes, so I want to make sure that if someone is buying it from Nasty Gal, she feels like it’s worth it. We’re dressing girls for the best years of their lives, so whether you drop $300 or shop the sale section, I want you to look and feel like a million bucks.

Rule number two: Keep your promises. When girls bought something from Nasty Gal, what they got in the mail was just as amazing as what they’d seen online. Customers became not only loyal, but also evangelical. They came back again and again, and shared their excitement with their friends—frequently on the Internet. It was the kind of nature word of mouth that can’t be bought. 

Rule number three: Give your customers something to share. Social media is built on sharing, and Nasty Gal was giving girls something amazing to share each and every day. Whether it was a crazy vintage piece, a quote, or a behind-the-scenes photo, we have always worked hard to create the best and most compelling images, words and content for our customers.

So who’s your best customer? What does your brand stand for?
How should people feel when they interact with your brand?


If these questions are tough for you to answer in a single sentence, we should probably chat.