Radical Transparency: A Key Tactic Of New-Age Brand Success Stories

July 11, 2013

With neither the high-end distribution nor the advertising dollars of traditional luxury offerings, brands new on the scene today are forced to innovate in order to compete. But as they do so, their innovations make them not just competitive in a saturated market, but leaders who elevate the status quo, stealing market share from their established counterparts along the way.​

Take Everlane for example. At less than half the cost of similar brands like Vince or James Perse, Everlane wields just as much “covet-ability.” But, how?​

It’s splayed across their website clear as day. The e-commerce retailer, “cut out the middleman”, and a supremely simple info-graphic stands by to explain exactly how that perfect t-shirt arrives at your door. They’ve made a genuine effort to be transparent on multiple levels (corporate, production, sourcing), and to deliver designer-level quality at “disruptive” prices. The brand platform of transparency, exceptional quality and a curated experience echoes through every touch point.

ECOMMERCE USER EXPERIENCE 

Everlane is one of a growing number of brands that have begun to champion this movement of ‘fewer but better.’ By offering a limited selection of pieces, they’re able to keep price competitive in the gateway-luxury segment, as well as raise the ecommerce experience to the high-end level. That commitment to constructive minimalism is reflected across their website. The design is simple and beautiful, and clearly built with the user experience top of mind—the user and the way they might interact with the website is the foundation for construction, rather than an afterthought of the design.

PRODUCT IS STILL KING 

None of this argument would hold up if the product didn’t deliver on their promise of luxury-quality goods at more palatable prices. All else equal, the product quality has to be at LEAST equal to the quality of the experience. From the moment you click “purchase”, the experience mimics the higher-end in-store experience. Your order arrives in a timely manner in a thick brown pack with ‘Everlane’ stamped boldly in black ink on the outside—the paper is rough, pulpy, and almost seems handcrafted. Inside, the product is rolled in a way that prevents wrinkling, wrapped in tissue, and closed with a branded sticker—on top there’s a romance card, with a simple thank you.

It’s the in-store experience translated beautifully to digital.

ONGOING BRAND RELATIONSHIP 

Like any brand worthy of millennials’ loyalty, Everlane is an accomplished curator of highly share-worthy content. They continue to touch their followers in a way that is unlikely to send consumers searching for that difficult to locate “unsubscribe” button. Rather than reaching out in a “You left items in your shopping cart” way, their emails and posts are product and content oriented, and diverse enough that they don’t seem automated, even though we know they are.

The ‘PK’ Polo announcement is a great example of this – just enough of an interesting tease (their go-to “It’s coming!” photo teaser) to get people talking in-person (especially in this office!). It creates, in an odd way, that in-store experience of getting excited about the piece, talking it over with your friend, debating the purchase, being encouraged to try it on, etc. It comes as no surprise that when a coworker of mine reached out with a fit concern, the Everlane team responded promptly and with a unequivocal answer—the tone was direct and authoritative, yet didn’t come across as automated. How perfectly on-brand.

AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE 

It’s a new wave of online luxury. While brick and mortar brands continue to test the waters of translating their brand to digital, brands like Everlane that have grown up purely digital are blowing them away in terms of connecting with the millennial generation—a generation that has, in turn, grown up on MySpace and Facebook, Flickr and Instagram, Napster and iTunes.​

WHEN EVERY TOUCH POINT OF YOUR BRAND IS ALIGNED WITH THE DIGITAL “LIKES” OF THIS E-COMMERCE CENTRIC GENERATION, HOW COULD YOU GO WRONG? 

As this new generation of luxury brands evolves, we see them testing out pop-up shops, taking advantage of interesting brand partnerships, curating experiential events—the common thread here is that they seem to be listening to their loyalists, and responding in on-brand ways. With such strong brand DNA, it’s clear that these one-foot-in-the-door luxury brands are poised to react and adapt as the world changes, and encounter success as a result.​

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