[Guest post from Anne Charbonneau, Managing Partner for France and Benelux]
This post is based on a great customer experience I’ve just had, having bought new sheets and bedding from a Dutch brand called Yumeko.
The whole experience was so WOW (great packaging, customer care, lovely soft products, quality goodies...) I got curious and contacted the founders. Here are a few things I picked from what they told me about their success recipe: (they are growing fast and expanding outside the Netherlands).
Yumeko sums up their vision with 3 words: Beautiful, Affordable and Green. But of course, you need to hear the whole story to really get what the company is about. So all new people in Yumeko will start with a full day session with the founders where they explain the vision and the whole story: Why did we start this company? What were the starting points? What do we stand for and how does this work in everyday life in the company? What are the financials?
This storytelling gets tricky when you have too many people to brief in person. This is exactly what happened to Yvon Chouinard, the inspirational founder of Patagonia. He used to spend days with small groups of new recruits to tell the whole story of what Patagonia was about. When this became unmanageable, he decided to write “Let my People Go Surfing”, a fabulous book used as a brand briefing tool for all new hires.
Key takeout: Sharing a brand vision should be a ‘high- touch’ experience: focus on storytelling, not templates, Tell meaningful anecdotes about the process of creating a brand vision and sticking to it, including the challenges and set-backs along the way.
Ethical goods need sizzle AND sausage
If there is one thing we know about consumers and ethical purchase it is that: 1. they aren't ready to pay a huge premium for it , 2. they want not just emotional sizzle but also product ‘sausage’ that delivers a superior and distinctive experience.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced ethical products that fail to deliver: you feel good buying an organic product, but find the product experience pretty crap. This won’t happen with Yumeko as they clearly decided to deliver superior product experience, with sheets softer that those in the best hotels. It doesn't come easy though. They travel the world to source their products and producers that can deliver the softness they promise.
Find your own language
First, the brand has found a great line to sum up their vision and bring consumers into it: CHANGE THE WORLD SLEEPING. Second, Yumeko has picked the word "Zzzzzacht" and turned in into a brand property with a clever double meaning: Zzzz is the symbol of sleep and ‘Zacht’ meaning ‘soft’ in Dutch. All converging nicely in the brand vision.
Yumeko also managed to avoid the ‘naïve brand’ syndrome that you find in many organic brands nowadays: childish design,happy-clappy people and products full of ‘good stuff’. The cover letter in your package tells you the facts straight e.g. "Producing one single bed sheet used up 1 kilogram of chemical and pesticides"
Key takeout: Remember that teams, like consumers, need to feel personally inspired. The way you talk about your brand needs to entice them. Get a copywriter or an agency involved to make sure your vision has its own distinct tone of voice and style.
In conclusion, Yumeko is a good example of an authentic brand where the people running in inject their own personality into it to make it distinctive.