Jo Malone: Marketers should remember the ‘5Is’

Jo Malone had little marketing experience when she started her eponymous brand but says her advice when building a business is to remember the ‘5Is’ – inspiration, innovation, integrity, ignition and instinct.

Jo Malone Jo Loves

Jo Malone has founded and built up two successful fragrance brands. The first, the eponymous Jo Malone, she launched back in 1991 before selling to Estée Lauder in 1999. She left that business in 2006 having taken a year out after being diagnosed with breast cancer and having chemotherapy, but returned to find a business where she could “no longer feel her character”.

The deal with Estée Lauder stipulated that she must take a five-year break from the beauty industry, during which time she couldn’t even buy something from a beauty counter in case it appeared to be an endorsement.

But this hiatus gave Malone time to develop and hone her second business, Jo Loves. With it, she has taken a different approach to selling fragrances, with the shop looking more like high-end cocktail bar where shop assistants present products in martini glasses.

READ MORE: Jo Malone on refreshing the retail experience

Malone has managed to build two hugely successful businesses despite having no marketing experience. Headlining the first day of the Festival of Marketing, she admits that when she was starting out she “didn’t have strategy, marketing and advertising, we were shopkeepers”. But having spent her childhood in markets helping her dad sell, she says she understood that “the story and how you sell it is as important as the product itself”.

Yet Malone believes there are five key things marketers must remember if they want to build a successful brand. She highlights the ‘5Is’ – inspiration, innovation, integrity, ignition and instinct.

If your instinct tells you to do something and the rest of your team think you’re wrong I would say go with your gut, go with your instinct, go and discover.

Jo Malone, Jo Loves

The first three are easy to explain. Malone thinks that without inspiration and innovation it is impossible to be creative. And Oprah Winfrey advised her 30 years ago that “building a brand on integrity and truthfulness” was really important.

“She told me, if you own everything you do and stand by your identity and personality, you will always feel a fulfilled person,” she explains. “That’s integrity, the core of who you are. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Be who you are.”

Malone believes successful brands also need “igniting moments”. She describes one of hers as the moment when she was at home painting and realised she could use that in her new business as a way to change how people think about wearing fragrance.

Many of her Jo Loves products come with brushes which are used to apply the fragrance, rather than the traditional spray.

Jo Malone Jo Loves
Fragrance tapas is the latest innovation from entrepreneur Jo Malone

That approach also applies to understanding when something great has come along and grabbing it with both hands. Within months of launching Jo Loves, she had a distribution offer from Sephora, which she knew she had to take.

“The Sephora moment was the roar of the engine and if we didn’t run with that and sign the deal the moment could go. You have to really capture that ignition moment,” she says.

Finally, she advises marketers to always rely on their instinct. She says she has pulled product launches at the last minute even when her whole team is telling her there is nothing wrong because it doesn’t feel right.

“What is in that bottle is so important. It is your relationship with your consumer for the next 10, 15 years. Don’t get it wrong. If your instinct tells you not to do something, don’t. And if your instinct tells you to do something and the rest of your team think you’re wrong I would say go with your gut, go with your instinct, go and discover; even if it’s wrong,” she says.