6 Branding Lessons from Duluth Trading

by 5 03/15/2014

Branding-Duluth-7Branding… big companies invest a lot of time, money, and attention into it. Why?

Because branding controls how your prospective customers see and judge your business.

Think of it like a first impression. If they like what they see, they’ll stick around. If they don’t, they’ll leave (and likely visit one of your competitors).

As an example, let’s take a look at Duluth Trading today.

My husband has quickly fallen in love with this company. Whether he needs socks, underwear, blue jeans, or shirts, the first thing he does is go to DuluthTrading.com.

Of course, there are many companies making the type and style of clothing he likes. Off the top of my head, there’s Dickies, Bass Pro Shops’ RedHead, and Carhartt.

But, something (I think it’s their branding) keeps him coming back to Duluth Trading.

Let’s take a look at Duluth Trading’s branding and explore how you can use some of their techniques in your own business to increase conversion rates and gain happy, loyal customers who buy again and again.

1. Talk to one person

Duluth Trading knows who their ideal client is, and they aren’t afraid to focus on them. They definitely aren’t using generic branding aimed at catching just any shoppers’ attention.

Their branding makes it obvious that they make clothing for the manly man: the man who enjoys hard-won accomplishments and isn’t a stranger to chopping wood with an axe.

They know their target customer works hard and is driven by accomplishment.

They go a little bit deeper though.

They also realize how important comfort and flexibility are in their clothing. The better, longer, and more comfortable your work clothing, the more you can accomplish!

This slide from their site is a prime example: Men conquering manly tasks using Duluth Trading products.

Branding-Duluth

Make it yours: Use this in your own business by creating and sticking to one buyer persona. If you need help, I recommend this article.

2. Innovative solutions to real problems

You may think everything men need from their clothing has already been created and supplied, but Duluth Trading goes an extra mile when developing their clothes.

For instance, they’ve started adding expansion gussets in strategic locations on their clothes. Most notably, the underarm area, so your arms can reach easier, and the crotch area, so you can stretch your legs out for a firm hold without unwanted pinching and pain.

Branding-Duluth-1

The first Duluth Trading ad I saw was for their “long tail” t-shirts. These t-shirts are made longer in the back to prevent the condition known as “plumber’s butt.” The ad was entertaining AND clearly promised to solve an embarrassing issue.

Make it yours: To use this in your own business, ask yourself, “What problem do I solve for my customers?” Then create an ad or graphic that demonstrates the problem being solved with your product.

For example, in my own company (ComfyEarrings.com), we solve the problem and pain of traditional earrings. A basic graphic comparing ComfyEarrings to traditional earrings quickly gets the problem (and our solution) across to causal web browsers.

3. Tell a compelling story

For many of their best-selling products, Duluth Trading features an ad that also tells a story. Just check out this ad for their fire hose work pants:

duluth work pants beaver

Being attacked by a giant, angry beaver isn’t a reality for most people. But, the story is compelling and leads you to think the fire hose work pants could protect you from just about anything.

Make it yours: You can use this in your own business by telling a simple story:

  1. Ideal customer has a problem…
  2. They find the solution offered by your company…
  3. Customer tries your solution…
  4. Their problem is solved!

Keep in mind; you don’t have to use a lot of words or a complicated idea to tell a story. Here’s an example:

Branding-Duluth-3

This simple ad for mocs tells a story all by itself. Where I live in Texas—and for a lot of the U.S.—the wild boar is a big nuisance. They have a reputation for aggression, toughness, and inhabiting the nastiest, muddiest areas they can find.

The ad above tells a simple story of rugged durability that can’t be stopped.

But, Duluth Trading’s storytelling doesn’t stop with their words…

4. Add fun, entertaining, and visually appealing graphics

Duluth Trading understands how important the visual experience is to their storytelling.

As an example, this screenshot is from their new women’s line:

Branding-Duluth-4

The ad showed a gopher trying to sneak a peak while a woman is working. But, the long-tail t-shirt comes to the rescue! This solves her problem, beaming the gopher’s view back at him, causing him to evaporate.

Dramatic? A bit. But, powerful—no doubt!

Make it yours: Use this in your own business by comparing your ideal client’s situation before and after discovering your product. What pain points can you highlight?

5. Add a “no bull” guarantee

This analysis wouldn’t be complete without considering their guarantee. In fact, this guarantee is so strong, I’ve mentioned it before.

Branding-Duluth-6

The above is Duluth Trading’s guarantee, taken directly from their website. I looked all over for the fine print and didn’t find any.

What can we learn from this? A good guarantee builds trust and takes away the risk factor when purchasing from a company. This is especially important for first-time buyers.

A solid guarantee shows you stand behind your product and are willing to shoulder the risk. Duluth Trading is definitely using the strongest type of guarantee possible.

Make it yours: To use this in your own business, make sure you have a solid guarantee. If you need help, check out this article, “Writing a Guarantee That Converts.”

6. High quality at a reasonable price

As you may have guessed, Duluth Trading’s prices aren’t cheap. But, they’re in line with what other companies in the industry charge. However, they don’t use their prices as a selling point because they choose to focus on the quality of their products.

For instance, this customer submitted photo (below) shows how their fire hose work pants saved his leg from a potentially nasty chainsaw accident. That’s quality if I’ve ever seen it!

Branding-Duluth-2

Make it yours: To use this in your own business, first, make sure you’re providing a quality product. Then, brainstorm how you can demonstrate it. For instance, Duluth Trading has their customers do it for them in customer-submitted photos. Blendtec did it with their “Will it blend?” videos.

Duluth Trading has clearly built a solid brand that appeals to their target market.

You can do the same by understanding your customers and what they’re looking for. If you need help with that step, be sure to read this article: “Guaranteed Success: How to Find Your Target Market So Content Sticks.”

Truly understanding your target market—and speaking directly to them—will result in better conversion rates, more repeat orders, and plenty of referrals from happy customers.

Did I leave anything out? Please join the conversation by commenting below.

Also, we’d love to hear about your branding strategies… What are you doing to make your brand more compelling?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Christina Gillick.

About 

Christina Gillick is a direct-response copywriter. She helps her clients create loyal customers and raving fans through relationship building copy and marketing. She is also an entrepreneur and founder of ComfyEarrings – The Most Comfortable Earrings on Earth.

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5 COMMENTS

Steve R

Nice article Christina. You bring up good points. Although I have nothing to share concerning branding techniques right now, this article provided some insight I can use for my own branding in the very near future. Thanks.

March 15, 2014 Reply

Alex

I read this article from a consumer standpoint because I’m not part of your industry, but I agree wholeheartedly. If I could afford it, I’d buy every article of clothing from Duluth ENTIRELY because of their simple, no-small-print “No Bull Guarantee”. That alone sold me more than anything else (aside from the fact that my job requires me to walk constantly for eight hours a day, so my pants tend to wear out quickly, necessitating Fire Hose pants).

Another great American company with a similar guarantee is the knife-maker Kershaw. If you buy a knife and it breaks, even if it is obviously your fault, they’ll send you a brand new one for free, no questions asked.

April 7, 2014 Reply

Lyle

I agree with Alex whole heartedly. I have bought physical products and many digital products soley on the unconditional guarantee promise. I ended up keeping almost all of them. On the other hand I have bought, been disappointed and returned quite a few products that had very limited guarantees. My experience has been that the unlimited guarantees tend to be truthful in the description and quality of their products while the narrow, limited guarantee products tend to be “not as described, disappointing and sometimes outright deceptive” in nature.

June 28, 2014 Reply

    Neil Patel

    Lyle, thanks for the feedback. Let us know if you need help with anything else.

    June 29, 2014 Reply


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