The brand building lessons I learned from Grammy® award winning rap duo Outkast

By September 30, 2014Blog, Daily Declarations

What do you stand for?

This past weekend in Atlanta was all things Outkast. They are hip hop’s biggest selling and most influential rap duo of all time. They are the only rap group to win a Grammy® for Album of the Year.   They are celebrating 20 years in the music industry and this is their last tour.

I have the distinctive honor of knowing both of the guys personally and working with them during my tenure at LaFace Records. After I resigned, they were also a client of my company GLUE for over five years.

OUTKAST1At the 1995 Source Awards, one half of the duo, Andre 3000 so eloquently stated “The South got something to say” when they were booed while accepting their Best New Artist award.

Andre “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton have stood true to who they are as individuals, artists, performers, and creative entities. From the clothes they wear to their lyrics, these guys have created a brand that is authentic, true to who they are, and rooted in what they stand for. Because of this, they are in a class all by themselves. They created a lane in entertainment that they fully “own.”

OUTKAST2One of the driving forces in Outkast’s career is Shanti Das. From day one, she marketed their music and artistry through her innovative promotional ideas. In cities all around the country, from grassroots marketing to international television appearances, she worked tirelessly to make the world believe in their southern vibe.

Some 20 years later, Outkast is selling out stadiums on a world tour and Shanti Das is a successful music industry executive, speaker, author and the “Hip Hop Professional”.


Two years ago, Shanti was in one of my mastermind groups, frustrated and very unclear on what to do to sell her book, The Hip Hop Professional. During our coaching sessions, she began to see a bigger vision than just selling her book. She fully embraced the value of building her brand.

This blog is definitely not about the principles of brand building. There are many books you can read for knowledge about that. But I do want to share what I believe is the foundation for brands that have unprecedented success.

They answered the question….

“What do I stand for?”

Isn’t the answer to this question the core of any brand? From Chick Fil A to Walmart, whether you agree with their philosophy or not, leaders in their lane have a brand, rooted in the authentic truth of what they stand for.

As I was looking at my dear friend Shanti’s photos on social media from the last few weeks, and I think about our coaching sessions over the last two years, I am overwhelmed with joy for her.

The truth, just like Outkast, Shanti always knew what she stood for and our coaching sessions allowed her to remove her doubts. She took ownership of her brand.

As I celebrated her forward movement, it pushed me to go even deeper with my own thoughts around the question, “What do I stand for?”.


As I continue to stay rooted in the truth of my answer, I have discovered that doubt causes all of us to:

1. Limit our vision

2. Question our decisions

3. Minimize our movement


I encourage all of us to spend some time with the question, “What do I stand for?” So many of us are working hard to build our brands, careers, and recognition but have not spent enough time establishing the foundation of what we stand for. This allows us to build a brand that can expand with time while staying true to who we are.

I am grateful to Andre 3000 and Big Boi and the entire Organized Noize family for knowing what they stand for and against all odds, telling the world what they had to say.


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