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Martha Stewart: It's all about branding

Martha Stewart learned the importance of branding early on. She used her namesake not only to create a home-building media empire, but become the first female self-made billionaire in the United States, at least on paper.

"I had a friend called Charlotte Beers, who was a brander and she kept saying, 'Martha, you're a brand. You're a brand' and then one day I woke up and said, 'Ah, I'm a brand.'" Stewart told CNBC on Tuesday, during an interview from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on "Closing Bell."

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Bill Griffith and Kelly Evans talk to CNBC25's Martha Stewart.
Manuel Fuentes | CNBC
Bill Griffith and Kelly Evans talk to CNBC25's Martha Stewart.

Stewart ranks 24th on CNBC's list of the 25 most transformative icons, rebels and leaders of the past quarter-century. As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has engaged in several business ventures, including everything from authoring several bestselling books, publishing Martha Stewart Living magazine and hosting her own syndicated TV talk show.

To Stewart, her brand is about excellence, high quality, trusted information and inspiration for homemakers. "We are trying to reach, everyday, as many people as possible with that kind of great information and content," she said.

Stewart's success has not come without challenges, though. In 2004, she was convicted on charges of conspiracy and making false statements to investigators pertaining to the ImClone Systems insider trading debacle and served five months in prison. All the while, though, Stewart was determined to make a comeback.

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Martha Stewart at the NYSE.
Manuel Fuentes | CNBC
Martha Stewart at the NYSE.

"A person in trouble that doesn't believe she or he is guilty is a strong person, and I learned how to make lemonade out of lemons," Stewart said. "I'm looking towards the future. I'm an optimist still and I only see good for the Martha Stewart brand."

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All along, through the ups and downs, the key to success is a combination of a strong work ethic, persistence and patience, she said.

"It takes a lot of attention to detail. It takes a good team of people around one to make a brand and a brand that sticks. That's really —and the merchandise speaks for the brand. The content speaks for the brand."

—By CNBC's Drew Sandholm.

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