Case studies are an invaluable way to learn what works and what doesn’t. This case study about the importance of branding and storytelling is written as (surprise!) a story, and as such is a great read. Be sure to read the entire article. There is a lot to glean from the approach this savvy startup has taken in its launch.
This Startup Cracked a $2.4 Billion Market with Branding — Here’s Their Formula
At first blush, not much has changed about how men shave since the electric razor. But one company is shaking things up: A web-based startup called Harry’s has branded itself as a simple, superior and more affordable solution for shaving — and is vying against giants like Gillette and Schick for a $2.4 billion market in the process.
Sounds like a moonshot, except for the fact that Harry’s has raised $136.5 million from the tech venture community. On top of that, one of its co-founders is Jeffrey Raider, who played the same role at Warby Parker and has experience cracking markets with cool branding.
Today, that branding sits in the hands of Design Director Garrett Morin and Director of Digital Products Matthew Tully. Together, they have made telling compelling stories central to Harry’s value and identity. And they have a formula for how other consumer product companies can leverage the web and story to do the same. They spilled their secrets at First Round’s recentDesign+Startup event in New York.
Why Sell with Storytelling
Well, first of all, why shaving?
Most of Harry’s staff has been asked this more than once. And the answer is a story: Co-founder Andy Katz-Mayfield went to pick up a razor at his local pharmacy and found himself shelling out too much for an uninspiring product and only a few extra blades. When he told his friend Jeff, they decided there had to be a better way to infuse shaving with an affordable, personable, and creative touch. These principles have since become a north star for the company.
Even a plotline as simple as that packs power when it comes to selling goods, Morin and Tully say. When your goal is to sell an experience, story has to be central to your strategy. This tactic has allowed them to accomplish 3 things critical to any brand’s success:
1) Turn customers into advocates.
“We want to give our customers all the tools and information they need to go on and talk about Harry’s in their own voice,” says Tully. “If we can package the experience, the mood, the feeling that we want our product to create and put it into customers’ hands, then they go out into the world as megaphones for our message.”
When the company debuted a line of limited edition razor handles, Tully and Morin ventured to upstate New York to film a vignette of a man spending a weekend alone on a lake. “We wanted to capture the moment to describe how the product makes you feel.” Presenting an image so different from consumers’ daily lives made it memorable. What’s memorable becomes a conversation piece.
2) Stay part of the conversation.
Last year, Harry’s launched National Shave Day on December 1 to much fanfare — riding on the coattails of another cultural facial hair phenomena:Movember. In doing so, they appealed their target market, and not only appeared timely, but prescient. After not shaving all month, men everywhere were in desperate need of a good razor.
“The holiday created more story around the brand. We had an event at our barber shop, put it on the web, promoted it on social media, and we watched…