Ulta Beauty’s CMO on Architecting Brand Purpose From the Inside Out

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A creator at her core, Shelley Haus was excited to join Ulta Beauty in 2014, mainly for the opportunity to help a 30-year-old beauty retailer find out who it was as a brand. The company sought out to not only get to the heart of who they were and what they stood for but to also co-create a purpose alongside 45,000 associates. And with past experience working on household brands during her time at Pepsi and Kellogg’s, Shelley knew how important it was to lean into both consumer and associate insights.

“I learned so much throughout my career about brand purpose. … I feel like if you’re going to build an iconic brand, you have to build it from the inside out. So that the connection with associates is as important as the connection with guests.”

Shelley also describes how she views each experience along her journey as chapters that all come together to help her today. She stresses how those chapters may often feel disconnected in the moment, but they too, have a purpose. Shelley offers this advice: “Know that the zigging and zagging is okay. … I think now people look at that as ‘what did you learn from it? What do you know about yourself?’ And I would say during those zigs and zags, those are the biggest times to really get clear on what you love, take a step and get back in touch with that.”

Tune in to hear the behind-the-scenes story of Ulta Beauty’s journey to find its true brand purpose, how Shelley leans into it as the foundation to help the brand evolve and how she turned around what she once thought was the biggest mistake of her career.

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nadine.dietz@adweek.com Nadine Dietz is chief community officer at Adweek and host of the CMO Moves podcast.