Why there's no such thing as 'brandless'

Brandlessness and success are different destinations.

When ‘Brandless’ launched in 2012, their stated intention was “to make better stuff accessible and affordable for more people. Our mission is deeply rooted in quality, transparency and community-driven values.” To achieve this they immediately set about ‘not being a brand’.

But guess what: not being a brand is your brand. Right?

Unfortunately, Brandless closed its doors recently. No surprise really, with revenues of US $20.2m and a net loss of US $48.8m.

In part at least, Brandless’ failure came as a result of pretending not to be a brand. It’s a duplicity that too many consumers could see straight through. “You can fool all the people some of the time…”

On a different level though, Brandless’ problems were also rooted in a belief that ‘brands’ are somehow bad and that branding and marketing are not investments with which to develop a financial return, but simply costs to be minimised.

Unfortunately they refused to recognise that consumers love brands. Brands are a shortcut that makes it easy for people to understand what they’re buying. It’s why customers come back again and again and again to the brands they trust.

Anyone out there who thinks their service or product is not a brand, please re-read paragraph 4. Consumers are sensitive, intelligent and judgmental.

The question is not whether or not you have a brand. Because you do have a brand. The question is: are you proactively controlling and managing your brand to maximise your success?

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