University of Southern California

Cindy Crawford on Building Brands that Last
Supermodel and Billion-Dollar-Businesswoman Talks Brand Development
March 19, 2014 • by News at Marshall

Supermodel and cultural icon Cindy Crawford came to USC on March 5 to share her perspective on building enduring brands at an event hosted by USC Marshall's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. The talk, moderated by David Belasco as part of his course, “The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Taking the Leap,” was the most recent in a series in which in which business leaders share their philosophies with budding entrepreneurs. Crawford spoke to a crowd of 650 students and faculty, telling the story of her phenomenal ascent in modeling and then her transition as an entrepreneur, with projects including a best-selling exercise video series, skin-care and home furnishing lines. Crawford described the decisive moment she decided not to renew a lucrative contract with Revlon to instead launch Meaningful Beauty, a skin-care enterprise that recently reached the billion-dollar mark in sales.

"There comes a point,” Crawford said, “where you want to participate. I guess I believed in myself and the idea and the intention of Meaningful Beauty and wanted to take the chance.”

She counseled those looking to create their own brands to clearly define not only who they seek to reach, but also what attributes their venture embodies. "The more you can visualize who that person is, the better you can make the right connection and the right decisions," said Crawford, who is protective of the personal brand she has spent 20 years building.

Crawford admits that while celebrity status might help open doors in starting new ventures, it is not the magic answer to success. "The product is the most important thing,” Crawford said. “You may be able to get someone to look at it, but the product needs to stand on its own."

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Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.