Have you ever strolled the aisles of a supermarket, aimlessly looking for the right body wash or granola bar, staring at multiples of the same product from different brands? We’re sure you have. Most CPG companies today place products in aisles just like this. Except for one: Brandless.
Brandless, the CPG “Brand Without a Brand”
Brandless, founded in 2017, is a brand without a brand. It was created to sell quality products at low prices directly to customers. By cutting out the middlemen, such as department stores like Walmart, Brandless has managed to cut the costs consumers pay with other wholesaler brands. Along with creating a simple, direct relationship with consumers, the brand has also eliminated consumer choice paralysis: the dynamic that occurs when consumers can’t choose between many brands in the aisle at a supermarket. All products on the Brandless website are about three dollars, and if customers spend enough, they get free shipping to their doorstep.
Brandless’ main goal is to provide product transparency and foster a direct relationship with their customers. On their website, it states, “Our mission is deeply rooted in quality, transparency, and community-driven values. Better stuff, fewer dollars. It’s that simple.” The company was able to build $50M in funding with this mission.
The company’s label, although very simple, is one of the key factors that distinguishes Brandless from its competitors. This “brand without a brand’s” label reflects its goal to directly communicate what’s in the product. All Brandless products have white rectangles featuring the name of the product and its ingredients. The labeling also conveys other “why buy” information such as whether a product is organic or non-GMO. “Our whole ethos is we want to be in a direct relationship with real people,” co-founder Tina Sharkey said in a recent interview. “We want to be transparent with them. We don’t have icons. We trademarked a white box. What we put on the white box are the attributes, not some stock photo to suggest it’s somebody else’s recipe. If it’s tomato and basil sauce, it’s tomato and basil sauce.”
More than the Logo
Although Brandless’ logo has unintentionally stood out among competitors, the brand has become much more than the logo. Brandless has trademarked terms like “BrandTax,” a hidden cost when buying a national brand, and “Just What Matters,” a term used to explain the simplicity and transparency of their products.
Along with being transparent about what’s in their products and their use of organic and non-GMO ingredients, this company has also given back to the community. They have donated almost $1.5M to Feeding America and continue to donate to similar nonprofits.
In less than two years since its launch, Brandless has built personal connections to customers through social media. They incite conversions and readily answer any questions people may have about the company or its products. They have a hashtag, #brandlesslife, so customers can share food they made with Brandless products or simply promote their favorite products.
Brandless became one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2018 and continues to step up their game. The company has recently opened their own pop-up location to not only sell their products but also add to the personal relationship they have with customers by giving advice on nutrition and recipes, as well as sharing information customers want about Brandless. These pop-up locations manage to put a face to the brand.
Redefining the Meaning of a Brand
Since their launch, the cofounders of Brandless have built a company that has broken barriers in the CPG industry. Brandless has quality, inexpensive products (successfully captured in the logo), a socially conscious mindset, and an engaged customer base. “We’re unapologetically a brand, but the difference is that we’re reimagining what it means to be a brand.”