One of the fascinating brand battles being hashed out over the last few years is between the three major “shave clubs.” I am not here to debate the quality or value of each product — although I just wasted a good amount of time researching the build quality, source of manufacturing, and customer reviews for each brand. Nope, I’m here to shine a light on the very different branding approaches taken by each company, and pose the question: which shave club brand are you?
Dollar Shave Club: The Brand for the Clever Everyman
Have you seen this commercial? If not, watch it now. This will tell you everything you need to know about the Dollar Shave Club brand.
Love it or hate it, this is a brand that isn’t afraid to take a strong position. Start with a CEO clad in jeans and the unbuttoned shirt/skinny tie combo. Within the first 20 seconds he’s introduced himself, described his product and taken a… um, strong stance on the quality of his wares. From there, we join him as he prowls around the warehouse, sharing the screen with absurd characters and real employees like Alejandra. The whole time, the message is clear: You need razors. You don’t need fancy shave tech to go along with it. They’ll give you exactly what you need at a price that you can afford.
The undercurrent, of course, is that it’s damn fun to hang out with these guys.
The rest of the brand messaging fleshes out the everyman approach. Droll commentaries, wood paneled background graphics, cardboard packaging, gritty, textural typography. The logo itself could just as easily represent a blacksmith or tool and die shop. This brand represents the blue collar mindset — get the gear that you need, and get on to enjoying the rest of your life.
Like any good brand, DSC has their own content marketing. In keeping with their branding, it’s down and dirty, both stylistically and in its messaging:
Harry’s: The Brand for Hipsters, Metrosexuals, and Germans
Harry’s was founded in 2013 on the heels of Dollar Shave Club’s success. Harry’s branding ups the ante on the meat and potatoes approach of DSC to a more sophisticated look. Lots of white space and clean lines. Photography is crisp and professional. The pic of the founders attempts to showcase them as hip yet accessible. The message? We created a better product than the value brand, but we were still smart enough to figure out a way to price it less than the retail giant.
Harry’s content marketing approach is also in line with the rest of their branding. It features the same hipster messaging, crisp photography, understated type and generous use of white space.
Gillette: The Brand for Grandpas, Mobsters, and Chiseled Jaw Lines
We all know the tagline, right? Gillette: The Best a Man Can Get. It’s the safety razor your grandfather used, and since the company was founded in 1901, probably your great-granddad, too. As of 2016, the brand value alone was worth $20.2 billion, so they’ve obviously been doing some things right over the last 100+ years.
They were late to the shave club game, and only entered into the fray because they were losing significant market share to the other two clubs. Their brand messaging is pretty much what you’d expect. The same good looking dudes with lathered up faces. In fact, this is the only brand that actually shows the product being used.
Gillette is the 800 lb. gorilla, and they obviously have the resources to create the most robust brand. Ironically, they have the least amount of content on their shave club site, and I couldn’t find any kind of content marketing strategy. They assume that you already know the Gillette brand, so you’re going to buy their product. Gillette is relying on that hefty brand equity, and the only overt sales pitch is a swipe at the other shave clubs.
Their commercials miss the mark to my eyes. First, I generally recommend against surprising anyone that has a razor to their face:
Also, I’m not sure what stereotypical mobster types have to do with shaving, but apparently Gillette gets their blades through nefarious sources:
When you’re the big kid on the block, you can get away with a few more branding missteps than the other guys.
Here are some word associations that describe each brand:
Dollar Shave Club: Value, witty, useful, down-earth, no-fuss, clever, gritty, real
Harry’s: Sleek, sophisticated, precise, engineered, crisp, metro, tasteful, aspiring
Gillette: Quality, stable, mega, best, disconnected, experienced, skilled, wise
So which brand is best? None, of course. Each shave club has done an admirable job of crafting a unique brand position. As such, they are connecting with their target audience and successfully selling their products. Need further proof that creating a strong brand (and innovative product offering) is sound business? Last July, Dollar Shave Club sold to Unilever for $1 billion, cash. That’s a good day at the office.
Which Brand Are You?
You are not a shave club, but you can learn a thing or two from how these companies have positioned their brands in their market. If you were in this space, which brand would you be? Is your brand messaging in line with your brand values? As always, if you need some help in the branding department, give us a shout.