Last year I did a feature on SME brands that I like and got such great feedback I decided to make it a monthly thing.
It’s easy to look at the big guys and forget that every major corporation started somewhere. They were all SMEs once and as I noted last week the things they did (or didn’t do) in those early years continue to have an impact today.
So for the first cab off the rank this year I want to introduce you to skincare company Griffin+Row.
The website states: “The griffin+row naturally effective skincare range reflects the aspirations and values of two women who (like many women) lead busy energetic lives, yet value their health and therefore demand smart natural lifestyle solutions.”
Skincare is a notoriously tough market dominated by big players and celebrity endorsements. And to go along with the hype are convoluted product lines that make it next to impossible to find what works (without dropping a bunch of cash on trial and error in the process).
From the outset Griffin+Row wanted to do things differently. A simple line with no harmful chemicals that was affordably priced and that worked for women every day.
When I interviewed founders Marcia Griffin and Yvonne Row a couple of years ago they expanded on this sentiment, talking about the words that they used to define the key drivers behind the products:
- Natural, meaning no harmful ingredients;
- Affordable, meaning a kind of “mass exclusive”; so, yes, priced so women can afford it but exclusive because quality and effectiveness are still important; and
- Accessible, meaning two things – distribution, so making it readily available via traditional retail and online. But accessible was also about using the products, when to use them and how to use them.
Much of what is out there is very complicated, often on purpose, and they wanted to get rid of all that with a simple five-step system.
From that broader idea, Griffin+Row also took the time to really think through specifically what their products would stand for. The list is impressive:
- Pure, natural skin care that works!
- Proudly made in Australia from the best natural botanical ingredients including the extraordinary benefits of the aboriginal medicinal plant extract centipeda cunninghamii
- Designed to satisfy all the senses
- Daily use for all skin types
- Feels good, smells good and works
- Pleasurable and practical
- Signature essential oils – with real therapeutic benefits
- Simple, clear instructions to make life easy for our customers
- Made in Australia for Australian conditions
- Treads lightly on the planet
- No animal testing, no harmful chemicals
- No artificial colouring
- No artificial fragrance
- No petrochemicals, no parabens
- No animal products
- No synthetics
- Recyclable, beautiful and simple packaging
- Affordable for all
There are lots of non-negotiables and promises in that list and holding true to them means a correspondingly complex interrelationship of decisions.
But the fact that they have taken the time to think through not just the what of their products, but the associated experience and impact means they have a solid platform to build on for years to come, because while hype can get a customer, it’s the quality of the products that get them to come back.
Founder Marcia Griffin is the spokesperson and evangelist for the company and its products, again providing a critical ingredient. If you don’t believe in what you are doing then why would you expect anyone else to? Marcia walks the talk, uses the products and talks about them every chance she gets.
Think about any company and brand of note and behind it you will find someone like Marcia – this is not about being a celebrity CEO who wants the limelight, it’s about being a vocal advocate and defender of what you are building.
So here are three takeaways for other SMEs:
1. Get clear about what you want your products / services to do and what you will and won’t allow as part of that.
2. Hype is great, but you can’t live on hype alone, there has to be something of value and substance behind it if you want longevity.
3. Get out there and say it loud and proud. If you don’t believe in what you are doing no one else will.
(As a note – anyone I mention in these blog posts is here solely because I like what they are doing and think others can pick up a tip or two from them.)
If you like a brand and think I would like it too, post it in comments or give me a shout out on Twitter with the name and I promise I’ll look at them – can’t promise I’ll talk about them though.
See you next week.
Michel is an independent brand advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.