Brand Building 101 with Farryn Weiner, Founder of Farrynheight
We all have our favorite brands: Nike, Glossier, In-N-Out, Apple, etc. They all have cult-like followings, pride themselves on a distinct look and feel, and stand for something much larger than themselves. How do great brands stay great for decades? What are the tactical steps to enhancing a brand strategy? What’s the secret to brand building?
To answer these questions, we sat down with Farryn Weiner, the founder of Farrynheight, a new-age brand strategy and marketing team, who has worked with brands such as Parsley Health, Bandier, Aurate, Planta, Coterie, and more.
Weiner is a brand mastermind. Before founding Farrynheight, she was the VP of marketing and brand strategy at Sweetgreen and the senior director of global creative and digital communications at Michael Kors.
From how to operationalize brand to why brand matters now more than ever before, Weiner shared her brand-building secrets with the Tydo team. Let’s dive in.
Singularity: Knowing Who You Are and Sticking with It
The most successful brands are the ones that know who they are and stick with it. From her time at Michael Kors, Weiner learned the value of singularity.
“When you have a clearly defined brand story and vision, you have more freedom than you think,” explains Weiner. At Michael Kors, she learned how to translate a singular idea of a brand into all kinds of messaging and communication.
“I used to say that I could throw 20 images on a table and tell you which one was Michael Kors,” adds Weiner.
Ironically, singularity provides incredible freedom for founders and their teams. Most founders don’t want to feel limited, but it’s a clear focus that leads to increased creativity.
“We’re attracted to brands that know who they are because we’re drawn to people who are confident in their sense of self. When you’re trying to be everything to everyone, your brand loses meaning,” states Weiner.
Singularity starts internally. Everything, including decision making, marketing tactics, and campaigns, all ladder up to that singular vision.
“The more singular and clear you are in who you are and what you stand for, the more fun you can have.”
Prioritizing Brand from Day One
Founders almost always question brand marketing efforts. That’s because they’re not clearly measurable, unlike performance marketing. There’s no way to see real-time results. “Brand is the first thing to get blamed and the last thing to get credit,” notes Weiner.
Weiner reminds all founders: “Brand is a marathon. Marketing is a sprint.”
Brand is often overlooked. “When someone says brand isn’t important, I say, ‘That, in and of itself, is a choice,’” notes Weiner.
In some ways, brand-building is about hedging bets. Every brand has its initial community. To serve those initial customers, every brand needs to invest time in making sure the community believes in the brand and believes in the mission.
“At Farrynheight, we step in and set up that community and brand for long-term success and growth. We pair that with our understanding of the DTC landscape and what it means to be an early-stage brand,” notes Weiner.
“Brand is a living, breathing thing that flows. Sometimes, it’s mission-critical, and sometimes it’s not.”
How to Operationalize Brand
Weiner’s main takeaway from her time at Sweetgreen: “Brand is only as good as how you operate it.”
There’s no better school for learning how to operationalize brand than a restaurant company.
“Brand translates into every element of your business, all the way down to the way you write emails,” says Weiner.
Brand is also at the center of culture and values. One of the most valuable lessons she learned while at Sweetgreen was how to use a company’s values to adopt and create behaviors that represent brand. “There was not a meeting you walked into where someone didn’t reference a Sweetgreen value in their decision-making process,” adds Weiner.
All brands should know their answers to the following questions:
- Who do we want to be in the world?
- How do we want to behave?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
Brand goes beyond a look and feel or brand marketing. It’s a service. It’s a story. And, it’s infused into every aspect of the business.
“How you operate your brand is as important as brand itself.”
Brand is a Marathon. Marketing is a sprint.
On the marketing funnel, brand serves two purposes:
- It creates awareness.
- It builds loyalty.
“Your triggered email flows, social media posts, hiring process, and company culture all matter. In some ways, they matter even more early on in your brand journey because those early adopters (customers) are the ones who build your brand and refer you to friends,” says Weiner.
What’s the best way to measure brand? Look at it as a whole. At the end of the year, ask:
- Did we create community?
- Did we drive engagement?
- Did we grow our audience and customer base?
With this in mind, Weiner notes that the most successful brands are the ones extraordinary at one or two things, not everything.
“Become good at one thing and then create a flywheel around that part of your brand. When you try to do too much, your money goes nowhere.”
Why Brand Matters Now More Than Ever Before
“Brand is the center of excellence within an organization,” says Weiner.
Because of what’s happening with digital marketing (i.e. iOS updates), brand building is critical, especially within the DTC landscape. Today, brands have to leverage the opportunity that each channel provides.
What does that mean? It means maximizing every customer touchpoint. “Each touchpoint is an opportunity to show who you are and why you’re different,” explains Weiner.
The brands that stand out today are less concerned with following trends. They care about creating consistency. “A brand is like a person. You have to think about how they speak, how they live, what they wear, what they eat, and what kind of music they like,” notes Weiner.
Paid performance and brand can work together. The brand part is understanding what pieces of the story can work on each unique channel.
At the end of the day, everything can be brand-woven, which connects back to Weiner’s point about operationalizing brand.
At Farrynheight, Weiner talks about the company’s values ad nauseam. She spends about an hour every week discussing Farrynheight’s values, why they’re all there, what the company believes in, and what they’re trying to accomplish.
“I used to say that being Head of Brand is like being on a roadshow.”
Exciting Brand Opportunities
In the early days of DTC, there was a commoditized look, feel, and approach to engaging with the consumer. Now, all bets are off.
“You can be completely raw and real,” says Weiner.
There are now alternative ways to connect with consumers and create community. Weiner is most interested in Discord and the ways brands are harnessing the platform as a marketing and community-building channel.
She also sees TikTok as a major opportunity for organic growth. “TikTok is a channel where you can do great storytelling and get a lot of eyeballs on your business without having to spend a ton,” notes Weiner.
“Today’s channels reward individuality. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to show that.”
Advice for Founders
For early-stage brands that can’t afford an agency like Farrynheight, Weiner recommends creating a one-pager ASAP. She says, “Lock yourself in a room with your cofounder or partner and don’t leave until you have a one-pager on your brand.”
Saying no is incredibly important. Weiner adds, “Don’t be afraid to cut things out. If nothing else, give your team a North Star and know that it will evolve and change as the world changes around you.”
Another piece of advice from Weiner: Don’t change course.
So many founders test one channel and use that as their barometer of success, even if it doesn’t work out. “You’re not going to hit it out of the park the first time,” explains Weiner.
The key: stick with the original game plan and then refine and optimize it. Then, “After you’ve given it your all, see if it’s worth your time and if it moves the needle,” acknowledges Weiner.
“You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Figure out what’s most important to you and then figure out the one channel you’re good at,” she adds.
For some brands, that might be their influencer strategy. For other brands, that might be performance PR. Regardless, choose one path, and stick with it.
“It’s the full picture that matters. Don’t take everything so seriously. Allow your team and audience into the process and let them help define who you are.”
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
Never miss an update from Tydo
33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
Never miss an update from Tydo
Report Cards is a customized glimpse into your business, delivered to your inbox for free.
Report Cards consolidates all your key metrics across platforms for an at-a-glance pulse of your business.
Discover metrics for every team member so they can stay updated with the right data on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
It's free because we believe everyone should have access to the basics.
Portfolio is a hub for analytics across multiple Shopify stores. The perfect tool for agencies.
See an aggregate view of all your data for all your stores in one place.
Make real time assessments on marketing initiatives across every storefront you manage.
Analyze the performance of one store versus another in seconds.