Like many well-adjusted adults, I wish that I could go back in time and shake some sense into my 16-year old self. Looking back, the main thing that makes me wince is not that I had an unfortunate haircut, but that I cared about the wrong things – things that I know now I never really believed in.
I ditched my friends to hang out with boys with Bob Dylan complexes. I cut my hair to look like Juliette Binoche in The English Patient. I ate precisely one Hot Brown per day.
One friend describes my high school persona as Small Hobo with a Sexy Secret.
Organizations come to us during identity crises. Startups, campaigns, established companies, non-profits – every kind of public-facing group requires the kind of thought and work that we provide. They want to look the way they feel. But, as most post-teenagers know, articulating how you feel and why is the only way to foster positive change.
We start with why.
Everlane is a clothing brand that not only publishes its mission, it shouts its core values, orienting everything it does around a single idea: Radical Transparency. This brand was founded on the provocative idea that, as consumers, we should know where our clothes come from, what they cost from point to point in their production, and why. Radical Transparency shapes everything at Everlane, from their process to their product.
An examination of the Why is the first step to understanding who you are and how you want to communicate. Your shared beliefs that motivate every member of your organization are critical inspiration for your work and ours. And as the lines blur between internal and external language, it is more and more important to unify the way you think about what you do. It informs everything about your organization.
Once your why is established, we move on to what.
Everlane’s product is basic. That’s a compliment. They make basics for your wardrobe, with the intention that the item’s quality and timelessness will make it an asset for years. That’s a testament to their overall point of view.
They began as an online retailer, but went analog when they opened their San Francisco retail location in March. Balancing an in-person experience with a tech-driven social experience, this brand has successfully negotiated a gap that most retailers can’t. And they’ve done this through their firm grounding in Radical Transparency. People trust the brand in its every iteration.
Identifying your What should be pretty easy, right? What do you do? The fact is that a closer examination of your industry and offering will yield surprising results. How do your core beliefs affect what kind of product or service you sell?
And while you may work in one sector right now, you have plans to branch out and expand. Those plans need to be taken into account in whatever you do and whatever we do.
How you articulate your offering and character will differentiate your organization.
Everlane’s aesthetic brings its core beliefs to life. Minimal, neutral, basic. What you see is what you get. Their website and in-store experiences are defined by function. Their packaging reflects their product’s value without being cumbersome. Their language is similarly direct. They tell you exactly where their clothing was made and why it costs what it does. And they’ve successfully leveraged social platforms to make content that is not pandering. Pretty tough for most brands. Language and design work together to create a brand that is – above all – smart.
This is where design and language come in. Using a foundation set with you, we build a way to look and speak informed by your core values. We take abstract strategy and translate it into personal, powerful presence. Your voice reflects your intentions.
“But it doesn’t stop there.”
The bald truth is that our work – and yours – is interpreted by your consumers. That interpretation is where your brand lives. In people’s brains. You control why, what, and we help you control how – but that lives or dies on its overall perception. Your brand is what you stand for in the minds of consumers.
That perception can filter back to your company, shifting how again in order to accommodate consumer interpretation. Companies that respond and shift to consumer perception without sacrificing their foundation why survive changes in their industry and economy. They thrive in change.
Everlane captured $50 million in revenue last year alone. They’re projected to make twice that this year. As companies like J. Crew flounder during change, sacrificing quality for quantity, Everlane assumes their mantle.
Everlane is a mature, thoughtful brand identity, and a model for branding across industries. To extend the high school analogy, Everlane is the unflappable girl who had her shit together throughout. She never drank too much at field parties; she surprised the world with her amazing dance moves at prom; she biked to school every day; and she was on the honor roll. In short: an alien.