What startups can learn from DJ Khaled

At the time of writing this, it’s 5 o’clock – I should be headed home for the day, maybe packing for the beach or catching up on Triple D reruns on my DVR, but today that’s not the case. Right now, I have my face glued to the monitor, phone on silent, as I write about a figure so influential, SO impactful to modern day society that my undivided attention to this blog post needs no distracting…That man I speak of, is none other than Dj Khaled.

* Cue the airhorn sound effects* 

To those who have missed the multitude of Major Keys, DJ Khaled is a music producer, restaurant owner (albeit a 3.5 stars on Yelp…) record label owner, brand ambassador, Snapchat disciple, and probably at least a dozen other endeavors I am unaware of. This dude has magazine covers with everyone from Complex Media, to Bloomberg Businessweek. He even opened up for Beyonce on her latest tour. I could continue on about how DJ Khaled has become a mogul in every sense of the word, but I would surely digress….

A couple weeks ago, DJ Khaled released his ninth studio album, ‘Major Keys’, to mostly positive reviews and projected Billboard success. How did he do it? The album is choc-full of guest appearances by every trending performer you can think of; including Drake, Future, Jay-Z, Big Sean and so many more. And after listening to ‘Major Keys’ myself, I decided DJ Khaled could be the most powerful brand performer today.

In terms of relating this to a startup, you need to tap influencers in your ‘network’ to help you climb to where you want to be. This is perhaps the first lesson of Khaled’s success.

Lesson #2 DJ Khaled is known for his multitude of catchphrases. He spews phrases like, ‘Another One,’ ‘We The Best,’ ‘Major Key Alert,’ in all his media appearances. Consistency is the key here. Whether on social media or elsewhere, he lives his brand, which is totally unique. He has taken every opportunity to make sure people know who DJ Khaled is, what he stands for, and why people need him. You’re probably wondering where this is going…and while we all know he has impacted social media, his personal branding is a legacy to be noted thus far. Not only is it perversive, but it’s invasive and people can’t get enough of it (millenial-wise).


Lesson #3. On ‘Major Keys’ you don’t just hear Khaled throwing around his classic catchphrases, you hear everyone throwing around his catchphrases.…It’s one thing to hear DJ Khaled toss around his personal brand, but to hear the likes of Nas, Jay-Z, and Future rap about his brand, it’s impactful. DJ Khaled is creating a movement that others are jumping onto – and it really gets the people going…it’s not just one or two tracks that people are rapping about either, it’s the whole album. And that’s exactly what you get with Major Keys.

I would bet a small number of readers have ended in front of their TV at some ungodly hour watching an infomercial for no reason, only to begin thinking about desperately needing that ‘Jack Chop’ or whatever else you’ve been staring at for the past – wait, how long has it been?! Now imagine that feeling, but for a personal brand…hear me out. After listening to an hour of DJ Khaled, the subliminal messaging put forth by his henchmen has oozed into your brain and you find yourself craving more DJ Khaled content…I swear, it happened to me and I follow DJ Khaled on every social platform. I just can’t get enough. I want more…

 Lesson #4 DJ Khaled is the difference maker between a good brand, a great brand, an an iconic one. He hasn’t been around long enough to be ‘iconic’ but his meteoric rise into popular culture is almost unfounded. How did he do it? He became a disruptor. Had a vision for flipping the industry on it’s head and when he began executing, others jumped on the bandwagon. The lesson? Be bold. Be authentic. Be you – and others will follow suit. 

See: What does it mean to disrupt an industry?

Here at Inphantry, we love helping companies and startups build powerful, DJ Khaled-level identities. Starting out with brand guidelines, creative web and mobile app development and overall user experiences, we want our clients to be bold and authentic while focusing on the experience…by the end of our work, we’ll have you shouting, ‘WE THE BEST!’ Disclaimer: you might not actually be shouting that, but we’ll make you feel like that for sure.


One thing we constantly see and hear at Inphantry is, ‘How do we make our product launch or activation go viral?’ And that’s the wrong question to be asking right away. The reason why DJ Khaled is so successful now, is because he took the time to individually mason each step on his way to the top. You don’t get to where you are overnight, you get there by constantly crafting each perfect step, after each perfect step. You get there after taking many of the small steps on your way to the top.

That to us is the key to building a lasting brand, company or product. Start with your brand identity and slowly work your way up. Overnight success does not mesh well with longevity. You’ve got to build each pillar successfully to stand the test of time – which is why our brand identity and brand guidelines work is so crucial to the startups we work with at Inphantry. Often, from there, these companies come back to us to fashion their website, mobile app and eventually tap us to help them launch at trade shows, conferences and other activations.

Last piece of advice from Khaled for startups?


It’s a steady stream and we could not be more proud of the work we do for startups of every kind, in every industry.

If you’re an interested startup, company or product, we’d love to hear from and detail what we’re capable of doing. Get ahold of our new business guy, Cam King for more info and Inphantry’s latest capabilities. –> cam@inphantry.com

I’ll leave you with one last DJ Khaled piece of advice…(Hint: Don’t Do This).

DJ Khaled Advice