7 Ways to Build Your Brand- Breaking Bad Style

by Akshay Nanavati · 12 comments

Brand Building Breaking Bad Style
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This is a guest post courtesy of Akshay. (Who by the way has the coolest name on the planet.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments below.

How does a devoted family man turn into a cold-blooded, sadistic sociopath?

The transformation of Walter White into drug kingpin Heisenberg enthralled millions of viewers because no other show has so brilliantly captured such a radical shift in character.

As a result, Forbes calls Breaking Bad “the best show ever.”

Walter began as a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher and eventually created an 8-figure Methamphetamine empire.

Now I am guessing you have no desire to sell Crystal Meth. Nonetheless, there are valuable takeaways from Walter’s rise to the top of his industry that we can all learn from to build our business.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could build a world-renowned multimillion-dollar brand in your niche, just as Walter did?

Here are 7 lessons from Breaking Bad that will help you do just that: 

Build Your Empire One Step at a Time

Walter White did not become Heisenberg overnight.

Likewise, building a brand takes time. Success is not instantaneous, it is the compound effect of simple actions over time.

Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul took 14 months before it hit the bestseller list. That wasn’t an accident either.

He wrote down 5 actions to take every day that would move him closer to his goal and more importantly, he acted on those 5 things. Today, the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand has generated over $2 billion in revenue.

As soon as you finish reading this article, write down 5 actions you will take every single day in service of building your brand. Keep working these 5 actions and in time you too will build your empire.

Kill Plan B

Love him or hate him, but you have to respect Walter White’s commitment to his empire.

Sure, he engaged in some morally questionable behavior to say the least, but he played the game full out and did not quit, no matter what came in the way.

In your business, become unstoppable, in a socially and morally acceptable way of course.

Don’t start a business and give yourself a way out. Commit to it and give it your all.

When you create a plan B for your dreams, you weaken the energy and drive toward plan A.

This is not to say you should quit your job and start your business today. When I first started my business, I still had a full time job. I quit when the time was right for me, and you should do the same.

But I always knew that despite the road bumps, I would find a way to make this business succeed.

Decide on what plan A is, embrace the obstacles that come in your way as you work toward manifesting that plan and keep taking action.

Create Outstanding Content

Walter Blue Sky

Walter’s famous Blue Sky was 99.1% pure.

The best Crystal Meth in the business.

You too want your brand to stand out from the millions of other competing businesses in your industry by creating life-altering products, services and content.

Every time you produce any content, ask yourself what is the outcome you want your audience to get out of this content.

Then don’t just give them information, give them what I like to call, systematized metamorphosis: a clear step-by-step roadmap for them to get from where they are to where they want to be.

Consistently give your customers a way to get the results they want and they will be just as addicted to your brand as Walters’ customers. Well, maybe slightly less addicted.

Find Partners

Walter White would never have become Heisenberg without the right partners to facilitate his growth. From Tuco Salamanca to Gustavo Fring, every ally helped him build his reputation and make his millions.

Granted that eventually he killed almost all of his partners, which I do not recommend you do with yours. The point is that without his partners, he would not have become the most powerful dealer in the Crystal Meth community.

To form partnerships, you could write guest posts just like the one I have written here, create Facebook groups with others who are on the same level you are, or find joint venture and affiliate partners. Then collectively work with your network to grow each other’s brands.

Imagine, what would it do for your business if 10 people, each with an audience of just 1,000 promoted your brand?

That would be 10,000 new potential customers.

Make Your Readers Want More

10.3 million viewers tuned in to Breaking Bad for its series finale.


Because every episode before that one made viewers want to keep coming back for more. We all wanted to know what would happen next to Walter, Jesse, Hank and the rest of the characters we became invested in.

It’s called the Information Gap Theory. Which essentially states that if there is a gap between what we know and what we would like to know, we will act in a manner that seeks to fill that gap.

Pique your audiences’ curiosity and they will keep coming back for more.

You can do this by promising them a way to achieve their desired result or helping them overcome their problems in a new or surprising manner.

Like this:

The key to getting raving fans that can’t wait to buy your products is to awaken their fears.

Want to know what I mean?

Keep reading…

Inspire Fear

At one point in Walter’s esteemed career as Heisenberg, his wife began to doubt his safety.

Walter’s response to this audacious inquiry was “I am not in danger, Skyler, I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks.”

To be clear though, this is not the kind of fear I am encouraging you to inspire in your audience. You don’t want your audience to think you might kill them.

But, you do want to know the pain points and fears of your audience so you can arouse them at will.

As multimillion-dollar marketer and copywriter, Eben Pagan says, “If you describe someone else’s problem better than they can, they unconsciously believe that you have the solution.”

You are doing your customers a favor by triggering their fears and pain points. By making them aware of their fears, you are simply bringing out into the open what already exists deep down.

This lets your customers know that you will help them face their fears and produce the results they want that lie on the other side of them.

Inspire your audiences fears by getting clear on what they are and then describe them in detail in your sales copy.

To better understand your market…

Place Your Tribe First

In the final episodes of Breaking Bad, Walter was willing to give up 80 million dollars and go to jail to protect a brother-in-law trying to arrest him. Ultimately, his commitment toward his family was greater than even his own self-interest.

Your top priority in your business is your tribe. Without your audience, you have no brand, so you need to take care of them.

Find out what they want and need. Send them surveys. Ask them questions. One of the most valuable questions you can ask your audience is what are you struggling with that you would love some support on?

Constantly think of how you can provide value for your audience and most importantly help them achieve their desired results.

Here’s another novel idea:

Pick up the phone and speak with them. How many other online businesses do that?

I offer anyone in my community the opportunity to speak with me on the phone so I can personally help them grow their business, for free.

Does that take time and energy?

Of course! But my audience appreciates me for it.

They are the most valuable asset I have, so I am willing to do whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals.

Do the same and your brand will grow faster than you ever thought possible.

Over to You

Ashkay would love to support you in building your brand, so please share in the comments below what challenges you are facing and which one of the above strategies you need the most help with. Share your questions too and he promises to reply. 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Akshay Nanavati November 21, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Hi Cori

Thank you so much for having me on your blog.

Looking forward to seeing how people plan on implementing Breaking Bad style strategies in their marketing :) And how I can help with anything that someone might be struggling with.


Nick Armstrong November 21, 2013 at 9:10 PM

Definitely worth the read.

The only thing I would add to this extensive list is that Walter also knew how to identify when things weren’t going right. He’d finely tuned his instincts through experiencing failure over and over again. He sought out moments to practice his craft (violence/crime) throughout the first season and honed his ability to commit those crimes.

In one of the very first episodes, he went with his brother-in-law on a meth house bust all to learn first-hand what it all looked like – before he had any real experience with it.

The result was he went very quickly from in-over-his-head to Heisenberg over the course of a few seasons. All it takes is absolute dedication and the capacity to learn.
Nick Armstrong recently posted..Why Colorado Consumer Health Initiative’s Obamacare Ads are BrilliantMy Profile


Akshay Nanavati November 22, 2013 at 11:07 AM

That is a great addition Nick. Learning from external and internal feedback is vital to entrepreneurial success.
Internal feedback is something we often ignore or don’t even pay attention to, but like you said, it’s an art that can be developed through practice. And a really necessary one as well, because our instincts guide us, especially when things get tough. Meditation is one way I find to be valuable in developing the skill to hear what our instincts tell us.
There is an interesting book about this subject called Gut Feelings: The intelligence of the subconscious.
Thanks for sharing Nick!


Hjortur Smarason November 23, 2013 at 3:29 AM

Brilliant, Akshay! One of the best marketing articles I’ve read in a very long time :)

If to add something, it’s good storytelling. A very important thing here is that we get to connect with Walter while he’s a school teacher in a tough situation – something the “normal us” can definitely relate to. We grow empathy with him before he becomes hardcore and we want to see him succeed in his mad endeavours. Translated to branding that means we have to get customers to relate to our character and root for us on our mission. A brand without a mission will be a brand without supporters.


Akshay Nanavati April 4, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Thanks Hjortur! So glad you liked this. And thanks for the excellent addition to this post. I couldn’t agree with you more, having a strong why that drives you and your brand is what will inspire your tribe to follow you. Which is also why authenticity is so vital in branding. For example, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I wasted a year and a half of my life with drugs and alcohol before I joined the Marines, and that two of my friends who started that life with me are no longer alive today because of how immersed we were in self destruction. So many people have told me they appreciate my authenticity in sharing that. And like you said that story and the greater mission it has inspired in me since those days has brought people on board with my mission.

This is a great and necessary addition to this post. Thanks Hjortur!


Devin Bisanz March 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Kill plan B! haha
They say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail!” But not in breaking bad… because failure fuels success!


Cori Padgett-Bukowski March 20, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Word. :)
Cori Padgett-Bukowski recently posted..Data Disaster and Recovery- #InfographicMy Profile


Akshay Nanavati April 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Exactly, failure is a necessary ingredient to success in the long term! I make sure I experience some sort of failure on a weekly basis, only then do I know I am doing something right. Experiencing that failure means that at least I am taking risks, and no progress is possible without risk. Thanks for sharing your input here Devin.
Akshay Nanavati recently posted..How to monetize your mission, no matter how impossible it may seemMy Profile


Katrin Brandstetter April 1, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I really loved your post Akshay! I totally agree that you should find a partner, who can support you and promote your business (Breaking Bad style!).

It’s a good tip to create an information gap to make the readers want more, so that they come back.

Which step is the most important one for you? Thanks again!

I absolutely loved the comparisons to Breaking Bad (awesome show!)


Cori Padgett-Bukowski April 4, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Hey Katrin, thanks, so glad you enjoyed the read. I think first and foremost, creating outstanding content is for me personally one of my most important considerations. :)
Cori Padgett-Bukowski recently posted..4 Keys to Building a Kick Ass Branding CrewMy Profile


Akshay Nanavati April 4, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Thanks Katrin. So glad you liked this post, I loved Breaking Bad too, such an amazing show! I would agree with Cori that creating outstanding content is key, that drives everything else and ensures that your audience keeps coming back for more. I also place a lot of value on Killing Plan B, especially in my life as an adventurer. When I go on an expedition, whether it be running across a country or skiing across an icecap, I burn my boats and give everything to that one expedition. That level of commitment not only results in successful expeditions, but the same principle has fueled my business as well!
Akshay Nanavati recently posted..How to monetize your mission, no matter how impossible it may seemMy Profile


Cori Padgett-Bukowski April 9, 2014 at 7:37 PM

Extremely good point. Brings to mind the saying “all in” and “go hard or go home”. hehe
Cori Padgett-Bukowski recently posted..4 Keys to Building a Kick Ass Branding CrewMy Profile


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