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Brands That Stand for Something

How to cultivate and communicate strong brand values

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Brendan Hastings
Brendan Hastings
Senior Director of Engineering and Digital Product at THINX

Brendan Hastings is the Senior Director of Engineering and Digital Product and a member of the Core Team at THINX. Named “one of the best inventions” by Time magazine, THINX is a revolutionary period-proof underwear company creating the most innovative period solutions that empower people and sustain the planet.

Building Brand Values Into Your Company Culture

It’s no secret that having a strong brand in the modern eCommerce space is super valuable. We know that Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are more apt to spend their money with brands that do what they say and say what they do — brands that believe in what they’re selling, and back it up with action.

At THINX, we’re breaking taboos about menstruation and reproductive health through the products we create and the conversations we start. For us, this value goes beyond our products or the content we create and into our DNA as a company. We have a giveback program that’s a huge part of our brand and gives us an opportunity to live out our values through reproductive health and human rights education programs. At our weekly all-hands meeting, we always get updates about the program and where it’s headed — it’s important to our entire team.

As a brand, this value of empowerment for women and people with periods is really the reason we sell underwear. Our business is pushing society to break these taboos. For any brand that has strong values, it’s vital that they serve as your mission, not just lip-service or as an add-on to your business. Consumers are more savvy than most people give them credit for – they can smell inauthenticity a mile away.

Don’t Dilute Your Values as You Grow

As you grow, you have to dig into the values that brought in your early adopters. For THINX, this has meant expanding our EveryBody education initiative, an aspect of our giveback program. Over the summer, we taught dozens of young girls in the Bronx about their bodies, and we’re planning to expand that initiative to reach thousands of young people in underserved communities over the next three years. We’ve also helped fund over 250 surgeries for women in Madagascar through our partnership with the Fistula Foundation and are excited about continuing to support their work. On our websites, we’ve put the giveback program in the main menu to reflect its importance to our brand.

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Supporting causes that align with your brand values is one way to really push your mission forward as you grow. Another is really being mindful of your messaging. When it comes to THINX and our sister brand Icon, which is for women experiencing bladder leaks, we know that there are people who are still uncomfortable talking about these things. But, to break the taboos, we need to be able to speak frankly about periods and bladder leaks and not shy away from the language that has caused so many people to associate these natural bodily functions with shame.

Content Over Commerce

Beyond the products you create and the causes you support, content is a major part of communicating your values. We have our Periodical blog and newsletter as well as The Iconic blog that are featured on their respective sites. We also have two more forthcoming blogs for our THINX (BTWN) line, for young people with periods — one for parents, and one for teens.They cover everything from product education to feminist issues, and they contribute to our brand story and authenticity.

I think doubling down on content is only becoming more and more important for any direct-to-consumer brand. I am a big fan of entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and agree with his premise that you have to think of yourself as a media company as well. Over the next few years, our content is going to be ramped up significantly. The way you do this has to be right for your brand, but you can communicate your values in so many different ways with good content, whether it’s a podcast, video series (check our our One Woman series on Vimeo!), a separate platform, or even a full-fledged magazine.

In this new age, content and eCommerce drive each other — but leaning more into content and community-building is a major contributor to growth.

Conclusion

  • Build your company culture around your values – Your mission should be discussed at company meetings and infused into life at the office. Keep employees engaged with value-based initiatives.
  • Stay true to your values – Don’t give into the temptation to water down your values as you scale. You want to hang on to your enthusiastic early adopters even as you reach a mass market.
  • Lean into content and community – Invest in content that communicates your brand mission and gets customers on board with your values.

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