Founder insights for developing brands in uncertain times.
The last few months have forced businesses to re-focus, often as a matter of survival. For many brands it has undoubtedly been a difficult time, but it has also helped bring perspective and clarity to what people truly want and need.
As we move into a new phase of uncertainty post initial lockdown, it’s important to keep focused on progress, and we find ourselves returning to the pearls of wisdom unearthed during our recent B&B X Founders project. Many of the brands included were born during the 2009 recession, and their subsequent success is testament to the power of an entrepreneurial mindset during troubling times.
CHAPTER ONE: FUCK IT
When the world isn’t playing ball anyway, it’s much easier to think differently and be disruptive. You can’t follow the rules when there are none, so fuck it. Try something nuts.
Our founders are a free-thinking bunch. Be unreasonable, is the advice from Peppersmith founder Mike Stevens. Question everything, says Chris Hannaway of Infinite Session. Both brands were born out a realisation that the products we were being sold – from sugar-free gum to alcohol-free beer – simply weren’t good enough, and that someone should do something about it. As we emerge from lockdown with, fingers crossed, a kinder, more progressive, more purposeful attitude, what are the products or services we should be questioning now? And how should we go about reinventing them? For Duncan O’Brien, founder of Dalston’s Soda Co, the plucky East London cola invented to take on Coke, the answer is obvious – Have insane ideas. At times like these, there’s definitely method in some madness.
CHAPTER TWO: DO THE RIGHT THING
Survival mode is activated. You’ve stripped the fat, shrunk the budget and got a whole lot better at saying no. But perhaps a global pandemic isn’t the best time to just look after number one.
Generosity is key to the founder mindset. Virtually all the brands we’ve helped create have an altruistic heart, and none more so than Kit & Kin, the sustainable baby brand that is busy replanting rainforests as we speak. Is anything more important than protecting the planet? asks founder Chris Money. For Duppy Share founder George Frost, generosity means being helpful, useful and giving people your time, while Phil Davison, founder of Mother, warns against making crucial brand decisions based on price: It’s a trust thing. Find the people that get you and do great things together. The moral of the story is that when everyone is in the same boat, don’t cut back on the kindnesses that keep us all afloat.
CHAPTER THREE: ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
For brands in lockdown, adaptability has been the 3-ply face mask keeping Covid-related collapse at bay. People’s lifestyles changed overnight, and successful brands were those able to change with them. And adaptability needs positivity: roll with the punches and suck it up with a smile.
Exude positive energy, suggests Pippa Murray, founder of Pip & Nut, a brand whose sales increased during lockdown thanks to a loyal consumer base who can’t get enough of the brand’s optimistic outlook. Embrace uncertainty, says Fix8 founder Freya Twigden, who has brilliantly embraced lockdown with the launch of homebrew kombucha kits and online brewing masterclasses. But our last word has to go to Kabuto founder, Crispin Busk: Enjoy life. Surf whenever the surf is good, because if Covid has taught us anything, it’s the need to refocus, and shift our attention to the people and things we love the most.