In an ever-ongoing branding discourse, the main concerns are always with either the product or the story; you seem to have to choose which one to focus on. Marketers release book after book on storytelling, currently they’re all about telling your story online with Twitter and what not. They have points; transparency in its communications brings the brand closer to its user. But more importantly, transparency in the production process makes the user of the brand (design is seldom consumed, it’s mostly used) a part of the product. From beginning to end, the product can speak for itself; alas the product is the story. This all is highly dependent on having a good product, something that this new era of business will hopefully bring; more genuinely good products, less well told stories.
The best example of this, inspiring to such an extent that Monocle has featured them more times than Tyler Brûlé’s travel itineraries, is Albam. An English male fashion brand whose philosophy is summed up with “Modern Crafted Clothing.” They try to produce as much of their garments, shoes and accessories as possible in Britain to support and develop the proud heritage of British craft and production of fashion. The latest of their projects, a pair of brogues and a tan desert boot are produced together with Grenson, a British shoe manufacturer with deep roots in British tradition. On Albam’s behind the scenes blog they describe the Grenson factory:
Approx 250 processes go into one pair of shoes and the skill and time that goes into a pair is something to be proud of. This factory and those surrounding it (that are no longer factories) must have been spectacular sites when they were full of craftsmen and women in the truest sense of the word. A real job with real satisfaction.
Their fascination with the product shines through, not ticking off their brand values, because they are the brand values. There’s nothing contrived about talking about the art of craft and the importance of history when you’re so deeply concerned with it yourself and when this is shared with the users, the product becomes the story.
Albam’s waiting lists for new arrivals of shoes and jackets are long and they have created such an intimate relationship with their users that they’re almost inseparable. Their little store on Beak Street in London’s advertising district Soho is a haven for marketers who’re tired of the story but who still loves good products.
This is a post by the David Report contributor Alfred Malmros.