At almost every talk I go to about ‘the importance of branding’ the speaker asks the room to name a brand they like. It’s guaranteed that someone in that room will say ‘Apple’, another will say ‘Coca-Cola’ and most women will say ‘Innocent’. (My boobs are a free pass to casual-sexism, right?)
I quite like the Starbucks brand myself, although I guess the mermaid logo is kind of random and creepy. Also I’m pretty sure that I’m paying their tax? But whenever I see a Starbucks sign I can’t help but feel a rush of adrenaline, along with a sudden thirst for sugar and caffeine. How have they done that to me? This company is at least 50% evil, 30% responsible for my overdraft, 15% increasing my chance of diabetes and 5% genuinely taking over my life. (Did you just go back and question my maths skills? Probably for the best.) After each Starbucks I feel a little bit more disappointed in my own shameful loyalty.
Don’t get me wrong, some big brands impressively nail their tone of voice and their products, but the smile never seems to last long. Do you know what I mean? Faceless brands don’t make me smile as much anymore.
Now, I don’t know if it’s a general trend that I’m jumping on here or if I’m actually growing some love for the Lincoln community, but at the moment I’m all about supporting the little, local companies. Let me tell you a little story:
I work with a guy called Tom Jacobs, aka. Tommy, T-dog, T-bone, Tea?, and my story is about him – the guy with ambition as big as his hair. (I came up with that today, Tom, you can totes have that.) Our banter is chill. The first time I met Tom was about a year ago, in the office we now both work in. I was with my friend Sam, who had a bit of a dilemma – Sam had his graduation ball that evening and suddenly discovered that he had overestimated the dress code. All Sam had brought with him was a full-on tuxedo, fish-tails and everything; it was bad. “What the hell am I gonna do?” Sam fretted. Tom, who had been completely silent up until this moment, stood up and mimicked Sam walking into the venue. He stopped in front of the imaginary crowd, gestured at the tuxedo he was apparently wearing, pointed two thumbs at himself and announced to the room “Who ordered the fucking legend?!” I knew from that moment on that this guy was on my wavelength.
Tom is a pretty impressive student, probably the most impressive – he’s not even a third-year yet and he’s working two jobs, running some kind of Business Club and is currently one of only twenty students (throughout the whole country) to get a summer placement at VCCP (one of the coolest ad agencies in London). Earlier this year he also started his own brand of clothing. He had dropped this into conversation at least twelve times an hour and so I finally caved; “wow, please do tell me more, what’s it called?” he did his best Vogue-face and said in an Anchorman kind of way “Grr.”…. “Grr. Clothing”. After an eternity of silence I finally said “why?” and he said “sounds cool, right?”. I had completely waved it off as a geek-turned-sexual-predator name but then I started to see his ideas. He registered a Blogger account with the name ‘Bloggrr’. He swore at the person who had stolen ‘Instagrr’ as their Instagram name. Plus, to mark one of my favourite things to have ever happened to an independent clothing company in the UK, he actually listened to my complaints and introduced a range of girl styles. Guess what he called that addition to the brand? ‘Grrl.’ Amazing. That boy is alright.
I gave Starbucks at least £20 of my hard-earned money last month and all they do is break the law and spell my name wrong. Tommy Jacobs has put so much time, ideas, personality and pretty nice wordplay into his Grr. brand, and you know what Tom – you can have my next few drinks.
These T-shirts? They’re Grreat! OK you can’t have that one, Frosties say ‘no’.
Grr. Clothing is an independent clothing company based in Lincoln, UK, which gets very limited street-cred for its fashion sense. Most people are too blinded by the head-rush they get when attempting to climb Steep Hill to notice. But trust me, we’re very fashion-forward. Support Tom and help him to get to London next year where his tower-like hair will blend in with the skyscraper surroundings.