A Brand Built On ‘Less’? – Interview with Brandless co-founder Tina Sharkey

‘Brandless’ is the only ‘brand’ you can buy at the eponymous e-grocer that carries the same name.  As co-founder Tina Sharkey explains, young ‘Brandless’ is not about the absence of identity or meaning and being a brand in that sense. Rather, it is about changing the way in which a brand connects with constituents and is distributed. Which, in her words, is no less than a ‘revolution’ in which Brandless seeks to ‘abolish the brand tax’ (see chart below) used by ‘regular brands’ to make up stories (aka advertising) and generate profits for everyone across the media employed and the long supply chain – retailers, in particular.

Instead, the vision of a ‘Brandless life’ is one where you ‘shop by values’ (ie. ‘certified organic’) on a website, where labels check-off (what are judged) key product attributes on the front (pics below), where less is more (ie. GMO free, gluten free, no added sugar, no pictures/logos/slogans, etc.), where you swap recipes with the ‘Brandless community’ and dialogue with the company on what they should add to the lineup.

from the brandless.com website

And every item costs a mere $3, ships for free and an order triggers two meals being donated to NGO Feeding America – provided you signed-up to ‘B.More’  for $39/year.  –  ‘Hurray!’ (to quote the site).

The above are just some of the elements Tina talks about – enthusiastically – in our interview, as she illustrates how Brandless executes against a higher mission of ‘democratizing goodness’ with the help of a motivated team and brilliant agency.  — You can imagine that we were intrigued.

Listen (CLICK PLAY BUTTON) and then read on below

Is Brandless a blueprint for the ‘new way we live and shop … build communities … and thus build brands,’ as Tina says?  Or is it more simply a savvy shot by two digital serial entrepreneurs at disrupting ‘Big CPG and Retail’ – or at least scare it enough to buy them out?  The other co-founder, Ido Leffler, wrote a book in 2013 entitled “Get Big Fast and Do More Good’ to summarize his experience in ‘accelerated brand building’ up to that date.  Him and Tina have certainly succeeded to catch attention fast if over 165k Facebook followers (as of Jan 2018) six months into their new venture are a solid indicator.

But is the @BrandlessLife here to stay?   Maybe, the best way to judge might indeed be to take Tina up on her offer and give it a try.  Let us know when you do and what you think.


For insights into what drives the success of modern brands – we call those that succeed to elevate themselves and can charge a premium Ueber-Brands – read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands” and other case-studies on this blog.

If you want us to help you elevate your own brand, then write to us at info@ueberbrands.com.

Here is a link to the Brandless website and related FAQs on B.More (including that ‘Hurray!’ answer).

Here is another interview with Tina about how “Hot new e-commerce start-up Brandless is totally obsessed with its own brand” by Alison Grisworld at Quartz magazine.  We learn that the “brand bills itself as the Procter & Gamble of millennials” wanting “people to live more, brand less… and stop the false narratives sold by Madison Avenue”.  Out of context quotes or an over-the-top portrayal?  Listen to our interview with Tina and or study the brand talking ‘About Us‘ and you will hear/read that Brandless sees itself a “group of thinkers, eaters, doers and lovers of life with big dreams about changing the world.”

Or watch both founders on CBS This Morning:

You can subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes, Android, Stitcher, TuneIn, etc. or on our blog to receive new post notifications. 

About JP Kuehlwein

JP Kuehlwein is a global business leader and brand builder with a 25+ year track record of translating consumer and brand insights into transformational propositions that win in market. Principal at ‘Ueber-Brands’ a New York consulting firm, he now helps others to elevate brands and make them peerless and priceless. JP also teaches brand strategy at NYU Stern and Columbia Business School and leads the Marketing Institute at The Conference Board, all in New York. Jp previously was Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai & Co, a prestige salon operator and hair care brand and lead brand- and corporate strategy development and execution at multinational Procter & Gamble as Brand Director and Director of Strategy. JP and Wolf Schaefer have co-authored the best-selling books “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” which lays out what drives the success of modern premium brands and "Brand Elevation - Lessons in Ueber-Branding" a guide to developing and executing a brand elevation strategy. Find the books here: https://bit.ly/UeberBooks
This entry was posted in 1 - Mission Incomparable - The first rule is to make your own, 2 - Longing vs Belonging - The challenge is both, 4 - Behold! - The product as manifestation, 6 - Un-Sell - The superiority of seduction, PODCAST and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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