How To Define Your Brand As A Direct-to-Consumer Company

Lessons from breakout D2C founders

Henrik Werdelin, Co-Founder of Barkbox

The exciting thing, which is also the scary thing, about being direct-to-consumer is that you don’t have anyone between you and the individual customer. You don’t have some opaque intermediary telling you what the customer wants — so you have to listen.

The exciting (and scary) thing about D2C is that you don’t have anyone between you and the individual customer.

When you’re defining your brand in the space, it’s not just you. It’s a conversation! You’re listening, the customer is listening, and if you do it right and you are sincere, you end up in a great relationship.

Zach Reitano, Co-Founder & CEO of Ro

Historically, brands were status symbols. But, more and more brands have transitioned over time from status symbols to value systems.

Brands have transitioned from status symbols to value systems.

Jesse Horwitz, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Hubble Contacts

Focus. There’s a lot to get distracted by in building a D2C business, and if you can’t find those distractions yourself, vendors will happily fill your inbox with a panoply of attribution tools and marketing products. We’ve certainly gotten distracted many times by the desire to look cleverer than we are.

We’ve certainly gotten distracted many times by the desire to look cleverer than we are.

Lilla Cosgrove, Co-Founder & Head of Product of Candid Co.

Building a trustworthy brand is critical to success in direct-to-consumer, but brand doesn’t mean a logo or a color palette — it’s the manifestation of a high-quality end-to-end experience. DTC brands usually can’t rely on a recognizable name nor previous customer experience with the product, so you have to build a holistic experience that breeds trust and a long-term customer relationship from the jump. Moreover, that holistic experience has to hit the right balance of convenience, personalization, price and quality.

Brand doesn’t mean a logo or a color palette — it’s the manifestation of a high quality end-to-end experience.

To be clear, a great brand alone won’t support a business where the unit economics don’t work, so that’s a necessary baseline, but thinking carefully about how your product or service is a better balance of those four pillars than the existing offerings is a great start.

Alex Friedman, Founder & CEO of LOLA

When defining a D2C brand, the most important advice I would give to founders is to look beyond your product or service offerings and tie your brand to a larger purpose. These days, consumers strive for connectivity and want to truly believe in what they purchase. This ‘belief’ goes beyond product effectiveness and extends into the larger mission or narrative consumers can relate to, as they ultimately want to see themselves in the brands they engage with.

Look beyond your product or service offerings and tie your brand to a larger purpose.

At LOLA for example, though we offer reproductive health products, we’re focused on becoming a lifelong brand for women, there for her throughout her entire reproductive life cycle. We do more than just present a new choice on the market — we provide the information and resources women need to make informed decisions while empowering them to take control of their reproductive health.

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