Dollar Shave Club does it by the book

June 6, 2012

Dollar Shave Club is a classic challenger brand that seeks to disrupt the marketplace, and it’s utilizing the elements of its brand as much as possible to help it do just that.

Dollar Shave Club is a classic challenger brand that seeks to disrupt the marketplace, and it’s utilizing the elements of its brand as much as possible to help it do just that.

The Dollar Shave Club launched this past March with a funny and outlandish YouTube video, which went viral and has achieved well over 4 million views. The demand for its razors has been overwhelming for the company; I ordered my razors in April knowing I would be put on a waitlist, and finally received my first set of razors last week. There are 3 razor types to choose from and I chose the $6 per month mid-tier 4X, which is comparable to the Gillette Fusion blade 4-packs that I need to pay $18.99 for at Duane Reade. Yet, what’s more important than the $12.99 I’m saving on my razors, is how much this organization values its brand.

It’s exciting to see a newly launched brand that is so clearly managing its brand — for lack of a better phrase — "by the book." Dollar Shave Club has a simple value proposition that it articulates through its tagline: “Shave money. Shave time.” The brand goes beyond a value play by differentiating from its competitors and resonating with a male audience through its tone of voice. The brand’s personality is expressed through a confident and human tone of voice that employs some outlandish humor and a "guy" attitude. It uses quips like “bravo” and “be bold” to instill a manly kudos like that of the Old Spice Man or Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. But, this isn’t another alpha-male; it’s a straight-talking guy’s brand.

The Dollar Shave Club uses an expletive to describe the quality of its products: “Our blades are f**king great.” Their "About Us" page explains how the company got started: “Like most good ideas, The Dollar Shave Club started with two guys who were pissed off about something and decided to do something about it…” It also claims that its premier Executive razor “comes from the future and lives in outer space,” while its basic Humble Twin razor is “the ’82 Wagon that starts when the temp’s below zero.”

I waited over six weeks for my razors, but the brand’s communications have been honest about the scrappiness of its quickly growing business. The e-mail I received to tell me my blades were on their way addressed me as a “member,” wished me a “Happy Friday” and signed off with “Oh yeah. New label printer. 10 labels per second. What’s up.”

Dollar Shave Club also values its visual identity, which is consistently executed from its website to its shipping envelopes. It achieves a distinct look and feel through its heritage-inspired seal, textured font treatment, and use of a wooden imagery in line with the clubhouse theme. This approach runs contrary to the sleek and modern look & feel achieved by the rest of the category.

Dollar Shave Club

It may be a very small player at the moment, but it’s effectively challenging the shaving goliath Gillette, which, as a subsidiary of P&G, spent over $168 million in advertising in 2011 (source: Kantar Media Intelligence.). How else do you compete with the “Big Shave companies” — as Dollar Shave Club refers to them — than by relying on your brand?

Again, it’s exciting to see a new company value its brand as much as the Dollar Shave Club because it’s an opportunity to see the value of a brand-led organization. It’s a chance to see whether a brand can be as powerful as I believe it can…

So, as the “Chairman” signed off his note to tell me that my razors were on the way, the “Big Shave” companies should hear the same: giddy up.

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