TikTok started off as a lip-syncing dance app, so many of us are still having a tough time wrapping our minds around just how our businesses can show up there in a way that will get people to pay attention. It’s become increasingly hard to ignore, especially when you consider the significant advantages to being early (which it still is). The days when attention is high and competition is low are the times when RedBull built its brand on YouTube, when Oreo got everyone talking on Twitter, and when Glossier was able to dominate UGC marketing on Instagram.

When we look back at the brand adoption of those channels, it seems like they all follow some pretty familiar phases:

  1. A young crowd of users pick it up, and most people write it off
  2. The users grow, and early adopters of all ages get creative with it
  3. A few brands start to pay attention, some fail
  4. The channel starts to go mainstream, but most businesses aren’t convinced
  5. The most creative brands get involved and prove that it can be valuable
  6. It becomes a generally accepted practice and everyone wishes that they had jumped on it earlier.

If you’ve been at this for a while, you’ll recognize the phases where you got involved with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll also recognize that Vine, Clubhouse and Persicope were working their way through, but never quite made it to the final phase.

It seems obvious that we’re at #5 with TikTok right now, where it’s getting mentioned everywhere and a lot of the best content on other channels was originally created on TikTok.

So, let’s take a look at a few of those pioneering brands, and what we might learn from their early successes.

5 of the Best Brand Examples on TikTok

1. Vessi

@Vessi (144k followers 1.6m likes)

This one hits close to home, because it’s a Vancouver-based brand that has been doing a pretty impressive job with a variety of different social channels, selling their waterproof shoes online. The content is a pretty consistent blend of colourful product education and collaborations with TikTok creators who show off their shoes as they splash through puddles and spill various messes on their Vessi-clad feet.

Most notably, they’ve teamed up with local TikTok comedian @KallMeKris to create a series of bizarre, but entertaining skits that incorporate the footwear.

One of their most popular posts is a simple Duet where they gifted a creator who seems to love dancing in the rain with a pair that would “keep his socks dry.”

Post results: 445k views, 50k likes, 122 comments, 40 shares

@vessi#duet with @josephtburke Next dance video in Vessi’s? 😏💃🏻 #nomorewetsocks #vessigiveaway #freeshoes #fyp♬ Skippin Mario – JIGGYnJIROH

2. Crocs

@Crocs (403k followers, 2.5m likes)

Yes, that Crocs. In case you haven’t noticed what they’ve been up to, this brand may go down as one of the most creative marketers of the past few years. Crocs has had massive success recently by showing off how people are wearing and customizing their products, and leaning into major partnerships with influencers and celebrities – and of course that content shows up on their TikTok channel.

Their most popular content hasn’t necessarily come from these big name partners, however. People seem to love the little skits and trends they’re hopping onto, often by duetting or collaborating with lesser-known creators.

One example is called Dad vs Daughter and it’s a cute little video where an X Games athletes takes on his young child in a heated competition, wearing Crocs, of course.

Post results: 6.5m views, 311k likes, 452 comments, 223 shares

@crocsIt’s Dad vs. Daughter IN Crocs! ⚽️⚾️🏈 On and off the field, our NEW Bubble Block pattern was never meant to hide! @jackmitrani #CrocTok♬ original sound – Crocs

3. Canva

@Canva (48k followers 92.6k likes)

The first two examples may have seemed like a natural fit for a platform like TikTok, but what about when your product is software, and there’s no physical product to play with?

Canva shows how TikTok has evolved as a platform by using it to share helpful tips and tricks for people who are designing using its software. The posts are less trends and jokes, and more easy ways to make create work using Canva. They also regularly partner with designers to showcase what they’ve created. They get a ton of shares on the content, likely because people find it useful or inspiring and want to pass it on to their friends.

The most popular recent post was a simple set of shortcuts that can be used when designing a presentation on Canva.

Post results: 418k views, 56k likes, 1 comment, 1989 shares

@canvaCanva presentation shortcuts to use to ace your assessment #design #canva #presentation #presentationnight #powerpoint #powerpointnight #fyp #fypツ♬ original sound – Canva


@NeterGold (233k followers 8.8m likes)

Neter Gold is a family-run body care and accessories brand that was created when the founders didn’t see enough high quality products being made for the Black community. The CEO regularly shares his personality across all of their social channels, and began using TikTok to post everything from product demos to skincare tips.

The account took off when they started posting behind-the-scenes videos that look like scenes from How It’s Made. Most of the videos are shot somewhat ASMR-style, where all that’s happening is combs being stirred or products being packaged. What makes it unique is how the account replies with a new video to what seems like every single comment. The success feels a bit like early-Twitter, when brands invested heavily in community management. It’s also proof that you never know exactly what’s going to catch on, and when it does, the best thing you can do is shift your strategy and give your followers what they love.

The most popular post we could find was a response to a comment that said “Stir the combs if you’re happy,” so they did just that.

Post results: 2.4m views 282k likes, 1118 comments, 438 shares

@netergoldReply to @mambojambo94♬ original sound – Neter Gold


@Ryanair (1.1m followers, 26.7m likes)

This one is a personal favourite, mostly because of just how fun and ridiculous it is. Ryanair is a discount airline based in Europe that has a history of offbeat, irreverent content across all of its channels. It took that sense of humour to TikTok where it regularly gives its airplanes cheeky personalities and involves them in trends that you may not expect from a large transportation brand.

Ryanair finds passenger content to Duet, it shares comments of the week, and even pokes fun at their own account by calling out the absurdity of telling airplane jokes on TikTok in order to sell more tickets.

Their most popular recent post, by far, was a bizarre video where an airplane morphs into Dom Toretto from The Fast & the Furious to help a late-arriving passenger catch their flight.

Post results: 21.8m views, 4.5m likes, 52.2k comments, 164k shares

@ryanairThe Ryanair family’s got your back😌 #ryanair #foryou #fyp #ryanaircrew #fyp #domtoretto♬ family is more powerful than the TVA – Alex Dodd

So what?

TikTok may not be right for every brand, but for those who are brave enough to jump in early, the opportunity to build a community can be significantly greater than when we try to compete in the same channels as every other brand. The brands that are currently gaining traction are all showing off their personalities and have identified what their communities want to see.

Being early on any channel requires an investment that may not pay off in easy-to-report returns that can stack up against other direct-conversion activities; However, it’s the brands that are able to take that risk and make those early investments that we look back on later and wonder why we didn’t do the same.