The Galaxy of Kanye
Why American Utopia is the Killer Business Model
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The Galaxy model refers to the brand and business strategy where products create a system held together by the gravity of the funder at its center. Some of the examples of the Galaxy model are Ralph Lauren, Martha Stewart, DVF, Kylie Jenner, or Armani. In this model, all sub-brands, brand extensions, products and experiences are entry points into the brand universe. There is no hierarchy among them: they all reflect brand values and play an equal role in bringing the brand to life.
The Galaxy model’s advantage is the power of a single person, who ensures a strong point of view, a high creative consistency of all brand executions, and cohesion of its aesthetics and values. This is also its biggest liability: the founder, who often grows into an iconic figure of mythical proportions, has to have a clear succession plan, to keep their creativity fresh, and to stay vigilant in order not to fall out of grace, lest the entire brand collapses with them.
At the Galaxy’s center is often an invented story, like Ralph Lauren’s East Coast aristocratic life (Lauren famously said, “other designers have taste, I have dreams.” In his case, there’s his own American Dream from the Bronx to the fame and riches, and the Great Gatsby dream at the center of his brand).
The Galaxy model doesn’t revolve around the heritage, craftsmanship, or the exceptional product quality (like e.g. Hèrmes). Instead, invents weaves a mythical story and emphasizes image, merchandising, and the atmosphere of the environments where this story can be lived through brand experience and products. For example, Ralph Lauren stores feature black-and-white photos of the old Hollywood royalty and the privileged American high-society vibe. They sell everything from Ralph Lauren furniture, bedding, decorative objects, to its many clothes labels. There are also Ralph Lauren restaurants and cafes, all meant to express the rarified East Coast lifestyle.
The Galaxy model is most often used by brands selling at an accessible price point (it is not economically feasible to have an exclusive distribution network and an accessible price point). Only by having a galaxy of horizontal brand extensions, a company can command wide distribution, a sizable advertising budget, and increased brand recognition.
The Galaxy of Kanye
Kanye West built around himself a galaxy. His story is one of spirituality, community, sustainability, local production, social justice, freedom, and, not coincidentally, the ideal of the Wild West. Kanye’s galaxy is a reinvention of the American Dream.