How to Stand Out on TikTok: 5 Surprising Brands Making Waves (& What’s Working for Them)

TikTok overtook Google as the most used internet site last year, and it’s been named the fastest-growing social media platform of all time, beating competition from behemoths Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Naturally, brands and marketers want a slice of the action - but as more companies join the app, brands are wondering “How do I stand out on TikTok?”

This is exactly the right question to be asking. Despite TikTok’s astronomical user figures, there is a huge amount of space up for grabs for brands willing to make a splash on the platform. Better still: the nature of TikTok means it’s not just global brands that can unlock viral success on TikTok. 

TikTok’s algorithm is the subject of much discussion, largely because of its more egalitarian approach to content recommendations. A user’s “discovery feed” is geared not towards TikTok accounts they already follow, but videos that may interest them - and those videos can be from any account, regardless of size. These recommendations are so fine-tuned, they’ve spurred micro-communities on the platform around shared interests. Each Tiktok user may engage in a plethora of niches, where they discover peers, inspiration, and - crucially - brands to align with.

Creating high-performing content on TikTok, therefore, is not hinged on one set formula. Brands must take an individual approach to their TikTok strategy, finding the right niche and understanding how to engage this audience in a compelling way. This is the approach Fanbytes by Brainlabs takes with brand partners to make sure each campaign lands convincingly. TikTok users like the platform for its more “authentic” feel, so content must be a natural fit to establish a connection.

One of the best ways to illustrate how brands can stand out on TikTok is not just to look at those brands we already know and love - the Nikes, GymSharks and Red Bulls of the world - but examine the more surprising brand “hits” on the platform. Going viral on TikTok can supercharge small brands, build brand personality or transform brand perception. It can even turn staff into stars in their own right. Want to find out their special sauce? Keep on reading.

How to Stand Out on TikTok: 5 Surprising Brands Making Waves (& What’s Working for Them):

How to Stand Out on TikTok: 5 Surprising Brands Making Waves (& What’s Working for Them)


The new interiors brand creating a community on TikTok

85.2k followers, 320.2k likes

Designer wall paint and wallpaper brand Lick counts sustainability and its community as its driving force. Alongside eco-friendly products, Lick provides advice from colour consultants and decorating experts to fuel their “people-powered decorating movement”.

Lick’s products feature heavily in their content, often as a means to join TikTok trends, but also in transformation, DIY time-lapse and how-to videos. “Watching paint dry” this aint: the brand’s unique “peel-and-stick” testers crop up as props for challenges, while its sustainable packaging features in ASMR-style videos. 

Most impressive, however, is how this brand is using TikTok to build its community. Lick team members regularly feature in the brand’s videos with interior styling tips, often responding to TikTok followers’ decor-related questions. It’s become a regular enough occurence that the brand’s followers have started  to comment on new videos with their own queries. 

@lick Reply to @beeclareuk North facing living room colour combos - pop your questions to Tash in the comments! #homedecor #colouradvice #styleinspo #interiorinspo #colourpalette #learnontiktok ♬ original sound - Lick

@lick Stepping it up in 2022 ? @ourtaylormadehome • ? Beige 01, White 03 + Black 02 • #renovationproject #kitchenhacks #learnontiktok #diy ♬ Makeover From KUWTK - E! Entertainment

This interaction with the community doesn’t just help Lick come up with new ideas for content. TikTok’s algorithm factors the number of comments and likes on posts to determine if a video is engaging, so by establishing a good rapport with their followers and encouraging comments, Lick is triggering TikTok to show their videos to a wider audience.

Lick also makes its hashtag easily identifiable to its community. The brand’s bio reads “Tag us #LICKTOK”- the hashtag has accrued 17.6 million views so far - encouraging interior design-orientated TikTok users to showcase how they use the brand’s products. They are a great example of how brands can use TikTok to create shared, interactive experiences.


  • Engagement: 5/5
  • Personality: 4/5
  • Originality: 3/5
  • Cultural relevance: 4/5 


The independent fashion brand growing their viral roots

145.5k followers, 3.5 million likes

You can tell a lot from South Asian-inspired fashion brand Sani’s choice of Instagram handle. @sanisisters’ TikTok is as much about the brand as it is the two sisters who founded it. Ritika and Niki Shamdasani started Sani with the goal of increasing the visibility of South Asian craftsmanship and techniques. The label celebrates their heritage as first-generation Indian-Americans.

The brand joined TikTok in early 2020 and by March, their 6th video had gone viral with over 3 million views. Tellingly, this was the first video Sani shared that wasn’t repurposed from another platform: instead, the sisters used this TikTok video to show their creative process from inspiration to finishing a garment.

Since then, their TikTok strategy has been underpinned by radical relatability. This is not a hyper-glossy feed of perfect imagery: TikTok is where Niki and Ritika tell the story of their brand, from the sisters’ everyday lives (answering customer questions in the car, hanging out at home) to the glittering extreme (eye-catching photoshoots and glamorous events). It’s a macro-version of the first viral video: showcasing their development while highlighting their personalities.

@sanisisters Attached drape was the thing #indianwedding #fashion #fyp ♬ original sound - Sani

@sanisisters Reply to @mirandassexynubbies #smallbusiness #fashion #fyp ♬ original sound - Sani

This all-encompassing approach doesn’t just appeal to TikTokers’ desire for authenticity; it also gives Niki and Ritika freedom to interact with TikTok trends and pop culture references and express themselves as people. Even negative comments are good fodder for content: “Your prices are a joke” quotes Niki, responding, “I’m glad we’re talking about this. As a customer, we can forget how many people it takes to bring a design to life.”

Traditionally, fashion marketing only showcased the manufacturing process when this added to its luxury allure. As Gen Z  increasingly demands sustainable alternatives to fast fashion, TikTok can provide transparency. Sani is a perfect example of how independent brands can not just illustrate why products deserve esteem, but also establish a personal connection between creators and consumers.


  • Engagement: 5/5
  • Personality: 5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Cultural relevance: 4/5


The millennial jewellery brand carving a Gen Z niche on TikTok

108.4k followers, 296.4k likes

TikTok is Gen Z’s favourite social media app, so it may be a surprise to discover that “millennial-orientated” demi-fine jewellery brand Mejuri is growing a healthy presence there. Its dainty jewellery became popular in 2017, but Gen Z’s tastes tend towards chunkier styles: TikTok sent La Manso’s plastic rings viral, while #beadedjewellery is the platform’s most popular jewellery hashtag, reflecting Gen Z’s love of oversized bead necklaces.

How to compete? Mejuri’s strategy could either be to move with their target demographic as they age, or refresh their image to appeal to younger audiences. The jewellery brand chose the latter, as evidenced in their larger Croissant Line which Mejuri has promoted extensively on TikTok. 

Part of this promotion is through paid ads. These offer inspirational shots in the style of an “outfit of the day” video. But the brand is also upping the ante on their organic channel, switching to a relatable feed favoured by Gen Z. We see Mejuri’s social media manager at home, making memes about new products or joking about croissants. She wears the designs while talking through them, helping them feel more ‘real’.  

@mejuri ??? #whatsthis #jewelrytiktok ♬ Whats this I like it Picasso Yeah datway - ReefaTV

@mejuri Never too much ✨❤️ #lookifyourboringjustsaythat #mejuri ♬ original sound - singersewer

Mejuri’s TikTok approach feels native to the platform. It uses TikTok Stitch and Green Screen to react to new products, influencer features and product placements. TikTok playlists and pinned videos promote Mejuri’s ‘Monday drop’ of new products each week. Sound features heavily too: “unboxing” videos are tagged #ASMR to reach TikTok’s audio-obsessed community, while Mejuri regularly uses trending sounds to showcase items.

Mejuri have clearly taken the time to understand their TikTok customer. The brand has courted an extensive network of micro influencers through #mejuripartner (8.1 billion TikTok views), harnessing the power of influencer marketing to increase trust. They’re responsive to the content that performs well. It’s a perfect illustration of how coupling an understanding of Gen Z along with a degree of flexibility can help a brand transform their image.


  • Engagement: 4/5
  • Personality: 3/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Cultural relevance: 5/5

Last Crumb

The luxury cookie brand creating mouth-watering TikTok content

74.6k followers, 462k likes

LA-based luxury cookie brand Last Crumb is so popular, there’s an email waiting list for new batches. Since launching in August 2020, they’ve won fans from confectionery lovers and celebrities alike - Chrissy Tiegen among them - for their cookies’ fudgy texture. Naturally, taste is harder to market online. How, then, has TikTok become a key driver for the brand’s success?

Last Crumb takes a different approach to the other brands listed here. On Last Crumb’s TikTok, the cookie is the star of the show, rather than the people behind its creation. We only see faces when Last Crumb reposts a video from a TikTok influencer; otherwise, it’s (manicured) hands only: Last Crumb is a market leader in high quality close-ups of crumbling cookies.

Like the brand’s black logo, Last Crumb’s TikTok feed regularly features cookies set against a black background. This gives the content a more luxurious feel; markedly different to the sugary pinks of other confectionery brands. We often get a “bird’s eye view” of a cookie, as if the hands in the video are our own - and the cookie is within reach. This first-person perspective makes it even more tantalising, while influencer reviews provide solid social proof.

@lastcrumb Meet the cookies before you eat the cookies. #lastcrumb #meetthegroup #cookies #fyp #foodies ♬ Too Player by Vinny West - RyanKanta

@lastcrumb Tell us we’re handsome, please ? #ThristTrap #thephoto #lastcrumb #lastcrumbcookies #lastcrumbtiktok #foodie #cookietok #tasteweekly #fyp ♬ "The Photo" - </3

“Luxury” doesn’t mean traditional, however. Last Crumb responds to relevant TikTok trends  - including recently naming their “THE photo” - and even pop culture events. And while Last Crumb serves a strictly cookie-only menu, the brand’s TikTok is full of creative recipes, turning cookies into everything from ice cream to Halloween treats.

The lesson here for brands is that, while TikTok thrives on relatable content, it’s not set in stone how brands can channel this. Last Crumb uses TikTok to market itself as a “sexy” product - its bio even states “Cookies so good they’ll make your girlfriend jealous” - and the unusual juxtaposition of sexiness and cookies is what makes the brand stand out.


  • Engagement: 3/5
  • Personality: 4/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Cultural relevance: 3/5

M&S Romford

The supermarket branch with heart

64.5k followers, 1.7 million likes

This is not just any M&S TikTok page… it’s M&S Romford’s TikTok page. Thus reads @mandsromford’s TikTok bio, and it’s this mix of the national supermarket chain‘s iconic branding and the humorous interpretation on a local level - carried by Marks & Spencers staff - that sets this brand account apart on TikTok.

The Marks & Spencer store in Romford, east London, first set up a Facebook account in 2020 to communicate with customers, but it wasn’t long before staff were posting videos. As the popularity of TikTok boomed, the branch set up their own TikTok account (with clearance from head office), and the team’s dance routines, lip syncing and skits - all while doing a shift in the store - have since earned them viral success.

Some of these videos need to be seen to be believed. The men lip-syncing to East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ while wearing M&S’ menswear is a highlight, as is their viral ‘Thriller’ dance video featuring the brand’s Halloween products. Recently, the branch was joined by TV show First Dates’ Fred Sirieux for a series of TikTok videos, and even released a Christmas song named ‘TheRomfordShuffle: Not Just Any Christmas Song’ with proceeds going to Shelter.

@mandsromford What’s your favourite wine?? #fyp #thedropchallenge #mandslocal #TeamRomford #tiktok #fred #mands @fredsirieixofficial ♬ original sound - Atsuko Okatsuka

@mandsromford Our very own TikTok sensations talk style, their meteoric rise to fame and what goes on in the group chat! Article pinned in the comments#TeamRomford ♬ rock yo body - flo

The secret to this account’s success is the camaraderie of the team, coupled with TikTok fluency. The easily recognisable supermarket aisles serve as backdrops to everything TikTokers find amusing, as the team find inventive ways to incorporate M&S products into their videos. They’re clearly at work - but they’re also clearly having fun. It’s refreshing, and TikTokers want part of the action. 

It’s a lesson that large brands should note. TikTokers want to support local business, and even big brands can create a personal connection that translates directly into boosted brand sentiment and increased footfall. Store manager Lee Spencer told the Romford Recorder “Customers have been coming into the store, telling staff how much they are enjoying seeing the hardworking team having so much fun.” 


  • Engagement: 5/5
  • Personality: 5/5
  • Originality: 4/5
  • Cultural relevance: 5/5

In conclusion

Sharing best practices for how to stand out on TikTok is not “one size fits all”. Brands must take into account the specific audience they’re marketing to, and how this group interacts. Stay true to your brand, and use this to form a natural fit with the demands of TikTok audiences. This looks different for everyone. 

Get in touch to discuss your TikTok strategy via this link. We’ll illuminate how to make your brand stand out today.

Author bio:


Jem Leslie

Jem is the SEO & Content Manager at Fanbytes by Brainlabs, an award-winning influencer marketing agency dedicated to being brands’ end-to-end Gen Z partner. Fanbytes by Brainlabs has helped top brands such as Universal, H&M, Burger King & YouGov win the hearts of young people. Jem heads up Fanbytes' SEO content strategy and has written for marketing publications including Talking Influence.

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