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Caitlyn Jenner Knows How to Launch a Brand

Caitlyn Jenner’s reveal was brilliantly timed. How so? Transgender celebrities have been making headlines for years. Chaz Bono competed on Dancing With The Stars and Laverne Cox was nominated for an Emmy for her role in Orange Is the New Black. In its premier season, Amazon’s original series, Transparent, won two Golden Globes, one for best series and the other for best actor for its star, Jeffrey Tambor.

And of course, the Kardashian machine is bigger than ever. Jenner’s stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian, is pregnant with her second child courtesy of Kanye West, the man named the most influential person of the year by Time magazine.

Jenner’s daughter, Kendall, already a constant presence on the catwalk, is the New Face of Calvin Klein Jeans. And Jenner’s ex-wife and momager extraordinaire, Kris, reportedly signed a $100 million deal to keep her family’s reality show on the air for four more years. Jenner’s awareness that transgender visibility and acceptance is at an all-time high, combined with the Kardashian influence across demographics, made now the time to say “Call me Caitlyn.”

When scheduling your brand launch, you need to look at the exact same measures: market trends, industry influencers, and economic indicators. The goal is to maximize your exposure by piggybacking onto current news that is relevant to your brand.

What’s In a Name?

Long before Jenner told the world, “I’m a woman,” she had decided on a new name, reports People magazine. One source speculated that Jenner preferred the name as a child. As anyone familiar with the Kardashians knows, they famously have names that begin with “K.” According to TMZ, Jenner purposefully chose to spell Caitlyn with a “C,” to separate herself from the family empire.

When brainstorming a name for your brand, take Jenner’s approach. Her name is equal parts meaningful and strategic. Then tell consumers why you picked the name that you did; it will make your business more memorable.

Choose Your Debut Press Wisely

Jenner had her pick of media outlets to tell her story. Most brands don’t have this luxury. But as an entrepreneur, you can learn from the choices that Jenner made, even if yours will be on a much smaller scale. Jenner went mainstream, making sure the press was more news than fluffy entertainment. She first sat down for a two-hour, prime-time broadcast special with Diane Sawyer, a respected anchor and journalist who has interviewed countless world leaders. Once Jenner had undergone facial-feminization procedures, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz captured Jenner’s stunning new look. And it was Vanity Fair, with its reputation for controversial and groundbreaking celebrity features, that landed Jenner’s cover shot and 22-page spread.

For your launch, survey the media landscape and decide what will best showcase your brand. Media to consider include small business columnists, a Reddit AMA, local television news channels, crowdfunding sites, and popular podcasts and blogs.

Support Your Launch with Social Media

As the Vanity Fair cover broke, Jenner was ready with Facebook and Twitter accounts in place. She wrote on both platforms, “I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.” And the world responded. In just over four hours, Jenner amassed over a million followers on Twitter, a new Guinness World Record.

Social media is essential for a new brand. With accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and others, you give consumers a place to congregate, ask questions, post feedback, and most importantly, share your brand with their networks. It’s powerful advertising, and it’s free.

But Wait! There’s More!

A brand launch simply trumpets a larger endeavor. In the case of Jenner, her carefully orchestrated reveal is both championing the transgender community and promoting an upcoming E! docuseries about her transition. Your launch will introduce the market to your business, so be smart and deliberate about your decisions.

Scout the competition. Conduct market research. Determine a business structure. Secure financing, as well as the necessary licenses and permits. Write a business plan. Select office space and purchase needed equipment, systems, and technology. Source enough materials. Vet your advisers, suppliers, and vendors. Hire the best employees you can afford. Create a marketing plan. Prepare to exceed customer service expectations. You may spend months — maybe years — getting everything in place. Your goal is to be prepared from every angle, to minimize hiccups and ensure success.

Caitlyn Jenner’s unveiling is a transgender touchstone and a marketing triumph. Entrepreneurs should take note of her timing, name choice, press selection, social media presence, and the larger endeavors she is supporting. If you put all the lessons learned from Jenner into practice, your brand launch will pay off big.