The World Can Be Better — A Brand Story
A simple enough thought. Chasing the dream of a better place. But there’s few brands that try to make it there, creating the world they want to live in. Fewer still try and build a world that is better. Better for the brand, their community, or their little piece of the planet. But for the brands who try, do progress. They ‘move the needle’ towards a better place.
If a brand is something seeking a change, what better change than a world change. An impactful change. A change that requires connection.
Often though, brands try to attach to a fad. A short shift that doesn’t result in any long-term impact beyond 1,000 likes, or RT’s, or re-posts. Great brands — brands people follow, people listen to, people want to help — follow trends. Sustainable growth that may seem like a fad at first, but turn into long-term connection. Long-term relationships with people that need a change. A fad is simply that, a measurable shift that people can count on to go up and up for a while. Until it doesn’t. Until the growth stops and there’s less demand for something someone doesn’t deem cool. Products can be built on fads, but brands must be built on brands.
At first glance, beards seem small (yes, you read that right). Beards seem like a fashion fad — here today, gone tomorrow, back again next year. But Beardbrand has proven otherwise. Beardbrand became a men’s grooming company for choice and independence, not fads.
“Our philosophy has always been more about building a brand rather than pursuing pop-up strategies or other growth hacks” — Eric Bandholz
Beardbrand is not a fad. It isn’t even a product. It is a collection of experiences and people and united under one banner. Beardbrand is an organization that is changing what it means to be a grooming company by selling something more than products.
I talked to founder and designer, Eric Bandholz about two major things that the brand him and his team are building.
- Why do they spend so much time on money on community, and
- What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? How do you translate that into action?
Why Branding and Why Community?
There are countless examples of growth hacks and ways to increase sign ups, sell more products and maximize profits. And some companies who pursue those may change the world for a time. They may connect people in a way that gives them something. But Beardbrand is here for something else.
Beardbrand is out to improve the lives of men — bearded and beardless.
Beardbrand sells to men around the world, in over 300 retail outlets, and continues to sell out products on their home site, beardbrand.com. They also started with a ton of content on a YouTube channel and daily blog. In 5 years, Beardbrand quickly moved from a ‘lifestyle’ product line to a men’s grooming company that cultivates community around men’s health and identity.
I know what you’re thinking…a beard is pretty one-dimensional right? Wrong. The beard is the root of a big problem because in today’s western culture, a man’s journey of growing a beard can be seen as a mid-life crisis, or unbecoming. And that leads to a whole slew of self-identity and men’s health issues Beardbrand tackles. Eric and his team use beards as a foundation to branch out and talk about how to become better men. A lens to view problems of identity, self awareness and health.
“No person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. Individual will, reason, compassion, and character are not strong enough to consistently defeat selfishness, pride, greed, and self-deception.” — David Brooks, The Road to Character
The best part is, as Beardbrand focuses an insane amount of time and money on building their community and engaging with members — it works. Profits are increasing over time, and arguably more sustainable than quick strategies to grow email lists and develop campaigns. There are no quick marketing campaigns for Beardbrand, only value and the effort of achieving a mission.
What does ‘building a brand’ look like day-to-day?
Kaizen, is Japanese for ‘change for the better,’ or ‘change is good’. It’s often used in business and personal development for continuous improvement, breaking down large goals into singular actionable steps. Eric Bandholz holds to this concept inside of Beardbrand.
The core root of every decision and every action needs to be based on a core message of what you’re really about — Eric Bandholz, Founder
This may seem really obvious…but it’s not. When you make a sales call, that’s branding. When you decide to change the color of a button on your website, that’s branding. When you’re talking to distributors and retailers about your products and the experience you want customers to have, that’s branding. It’s a lot of work, requiring the power of continuous improvement. Branding requires ‘constant and never-ending improvement’ and effort to become effective over time.
“Your brand isn’t just your logo. It’s the feeling you leave people with after they interact with you. How you treat your customers is a choice you make that affects how your customers see you, and that makes it part of your brand.” — Eric Bandholz, Founder
Beardbrand invests heavily in community and content. But it’s not the typical content calendar, epic content that is hot right now. The team produces content that engages an audience of thousands around topics they are interested in, contributing to a broader conversation. The branding work they do involves leadership by making decisions without full knowledge of the future or the ‘perfect’ solution. Like banning pop-ups on the beardbrand.com website or creating content with no call to action to the product — community based, not product based branding.
Beardbrand’s daily improvements come in the form of never-ending responses to anyone in their community, not just customers or members. If they have a question or comment or want to participate in the world of men’s grooming products (along with health, fitness, personal development etc.) Beardbrand is there. Day in, day out. It takes consistency to push beyond the lofty goal and into tangible results.
This kind of thinking has led to over 7 figures per month in sales, thousands of Beardsmen answering the call from over 80 countries and a brand new podcast delivering men’s health and beard quality info on a weekly basis.
The Focus of Beardbrand’s Brand Building
Despite the work they’ve done to not only build a successful brand, but also a platform and engaged community, Beardbrand is looking to make it even easier to become a member and customer. Most recently, Beardbrand launched a podcast called, the Urban Beardsmen Show, bringing listeners strategies on how to improve their lives. Beardbrand products are sold in over 300 retail stores, each one carefully chosen to reflect the experience and values of the beardsmen community. One key message here was the importance of ensuring the retailers are passionate about selling great products, and giving customers more than a stack of shelves to look at.
Lastly, Beardbrand is going to publish more content. Not just shareable, buzzsumo worthy content, but genuinely useful content. The only way to figure out how it works for them, is to experience it. Check out the recent one on growing a beard: .
Overall, there’s a theme of connection, leadership and work that comes through with Beardbrand’s story. The decision to lead and work towards an end goal means committing to a strategy that might not work. That not all people will resonate with. But as Eric’s story clearly shows, leadership, hard work, and connection can make all the difference between a fad and a brand that matters.