What Sriracha Can Teach You About Professional Branding

I have a bit of a Sriracha addiction.

It started off slow. Just adding it to noodles or soups for a little extra kick.

But then it increased to adding it to eggs, veggies and dips. I may have also put some on potato chips.

Yeah. Full. Blown. Addict.

I know I’m not alone.

There’s science around what makes Sriracha so addictive. Something about the peppers and endorphins and sciencey sciencey, blah blah blah. [Here’s an article if you want to nerd out on the details].

But there’s so much more to Sriracha that has contributed to its global appeal. It’s in the details. The seemingly inconsequential details, are what make it a household name.

As you know, there are a lot of hot sauces on the market. Competition is fierce. Obviously Sriracha is doing something right. How this hot sauce got so ‘hot’ can actually teach us a lot about developing our own professional brand, so we can stand out from the rest of the crowd.

1. An Unrivaled Flavor

Professional Branding Translation: Be Unique and Authentic

If the flavor of sriracha has ever graced your taste buds, you know what I’m talking about. And there’s nothing in the market that can even come close to perfectly imitating this spicy nectar from California.

What this means for your professional brand: Be unique and authentic. In other words, be yourself. No one can be as good at being you, as YOU, so don’t go trying to mold your professional brand to fit someone else’s, or a company’s, picture of what you think they want you to be like. No one likes fake.

2. Simple, Recognizable, Packaging

Professional Branding Translation: No Need to Be Flashy

Sriracha’s green top and clear bottle with bright, red sauce is instantly recognizable. It’s simple and easy to spot. Ain’t nothing to hide with this product.

Same goes for booze. It’s a known rule-of-thumb that the simpler the labeling, the higher quality the liquor.

Here are pictures of two wines that I thoroughly enjoy consuming. I present to you Exhibit ‘Treat Yo’ Self’ and Exhibit ‘Save Yo’ Money’. Which one would you rather drink?

Exhibit: Save Yo’ Money

Exhibit: Treat Yo’self

What this means for your professional brand: When you’re flashy – whether it be in an overly designed resume, using font colors that span the entirety of ROYGBIV, or a random melange of pictures on your personal website for the sake of having pictures – you’re not taken as seriously by recruiters, clients or business partners. Keep it clean. Keep it simple. And make sure your resume, website, and all other profiles are truly capturing the essence of you.

3. Becoming a Favorite of Major Influencers

Professional Branding Translation: Networking with the Right People is Critical

Sriracha was adopted in the popular eatery Momofuku, and this helped create more of a buzz for the product in the restaurant biz. This sauce got in the hands of the right people and it’s popularity spread like wildfire.

What this means for your professional brand: Networking and connecting with people who know what’s what will help you really solidify your professional brand. It creates more potential for growth, opens doors for opportunities, and helps you refine your professional messaging.

4. Extreme Consistency

Professional Branding Translation: Ensure Consistent Messaging Across All Media

The flavor is always the same. The packaging is always the same. Sriracha is reliably consistent.

What this means for your professional brand: The professional message you send, and the brand you embody needs to be consistent across all social media and anywhere that you have an online presence. So that means the obvious: no drunken shenanigans or any other behavior that casts a bad light.

5. Approachable and Accessible Vibe

Professional Branding Translation: Be Human

Wherever you go, you can find Sriracha. From street-meat food carts, to full-service restaurants, Sriracha can often be found on the table or in the kitchen. Also, if you want to buy it for yourself, you can find it at almost any grocer or even your neighborhood corner store.

What this means for your professional brand: Bring the human into your professional brand. We want to know that there’s a real person behind the expertise. What this looks like is messaging that’s written in your voice, and not someone else’s. A profile picture where you’re flashing us a smile. A warm and approachable tone. An inviting theme that makes people want to reach out and connect with you.

Did you ever think a hot sauce could teach you so much about building your professional brand?

Huy knew?!

PS. I own no stock in Huy Fong foods, but maybe I should.

Kamara Toffolo

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