6 Brands That Made Their Category Sexy


Poppin office supplies In a market saturated with just so much stuff, people have options every where they turn. Whether that's on the consumer end or business-to-business side, access to products and services are easy because the digital space has made the world accessible.

For brands, this means that breaking through becomes about disruption. Over the years, some brands have done this really well. Simply put, they've found a way to add a dose of sex appeal to their brand's DNA. To be clear, this doesn't involve scantly clad women or any type of suggestive nature. These brands have first and foremost tapped into a consumer need and created a strong product. See, it's always about a strong product. And, with a mix of sleek product packaging, visuals and clear, sometimes even witty copy to reinforce their brand voice, they've been able to carve out their place in the market while making their products and services accessible.

As an emerging designer, with little to no awareness, building your brand is going to be very important. It's starts with a good product and then requires a strong, ownable voice with visuals to match that's delivered consistently throughout all touch points including your website, marketing and sales materials and the face that represents your brand.

See which brands have shaken up their category the right way:

1. Maker's Row - Sourcing 

For designers, sourcing is time consuming, expensive and can be frustrating. Especially when it's a new venture, and not knowing what to look for or what's available is half the challenge.

To provide a solution to an industry where information was fragmented and often kept secret, Maker's Row, a startup that launched in 2012 to solve that problem and has delivered on their brand promise of making factory sourcing easy while also helping to fuel the Made in America movement. With clear visuals, an easy-to-use database and transparent content, they've become the trusted link between maker and design entrepreneur.

2. Method - Home Cleaning 

Method has been around since 2001 and did something novel to the home cleaning industry. They introduced products with personality in a sterile category known solely for functional benefits. This included modern packaging with new shapes, graphics and clear bottles to show their colorful, non-toxic formulations. They also smacked on clever product copy that may even suggest that cleaning could be fun. A bottle of their all purpose cleaner reads, "Grease and grime don't stand a chance. With the cutting-edge green chemistry of powergreen technology in your grasp. Each squirt, in all its lovely non-toxic glory, delivers a mighty cleaning punch..." and makes ridding the home of dust bunnies a lot more exciting.

3. Warby Parker - Eyewear 

Warby Parker is today's golden child of the marketing mix. Offering customers good looking glasses at an accessible price point with stellar customer service is just half the appeal of this company. Their accessibility continues with their home try-on program and their social good model of Buy a Pair Give A Pair, which gives eyewear to those in needs with every purchase, ultimately making everyone a winner.

One of their larger marketing efforts is the Warby Parker Class Tripa yellow school bus traveling around the country to meet  customers and empower the people in their city. This type of interaction lives online too. You'll see them engaging with customers on social sites by helping them crowdsource advice or thanking them. Now, that two way conversation combined with a good product, shows how vision can be sexy and the way a brand should be built.

4. Duane Reade - Convenience 

Have you experienced Duane Reade in New York lately? With a store on just about every corner that includes a good selection of food, photo services and Walgreens prescription services that attracts tourists, it's a nice place to shop. But, Duane Reade goes beyond your neighborhood drug store where you can buy everything from everyday essentials to swanky cosmetics in their LOOK boutique which offers popular brands like Essie nail polish and higher ticket items such as La Roche Posay products.

The store is also filled with private label home, beauty and food products that could just simply live as a branded store items. Instead, they infused their product packaging with a healthy dose of swagger, making you want to buy out the store. A box of their Delish chocolates reads, "bow down to your sweet tooth" letting consumers know that indulgence is perfectly okay. They even have a New York Living line to address their customer needs and hopefully make urban living easier.

5. David's Tea - Beverages

Canadian-based David's Tea came to the United States last year and introduced their loose leaf tea to consumers in retail stores in New York and expanded throughout the country in 2013. Their bright and inviting stores include color coded tins that represent each type of tea the sell behind the counter that spans the back wall of their stores, piquing interest to anyone to that steps inside.

In store, you'll find everything from the tried and true varieties, sweet and smoky mates, hydrating rooibos selections and mixture of fun like Movie Night, a flavored green tea that has popcorn in it. They also sell colorful accessories and pre-packaged teas for home and gifts. Combined with a knowledgable and enthusiastic staff, you'll be taken on a tea journey each and every visit. For those not able to get to one of their locations, signing up for their newsletter allows you to receive information on seasonal drinks, recipes and specials offers that make their tea experience acessible from anywhere.

 6. Poppin - Office Supplies

Think of Poppin as the Apple of office supplies. They believe that "you should be able to surround yourself with objects of beauty everywhere you go and in everything that you do" and their brand promise of work happy with colorful products couldn't be more true. Whether it's writing tools, desk accessories, notebooks or furniture, their inventory runs the gamut in bright and lively pieces of  eye candy. And, after a visit to their site, you'll probably want to throw away your black stapler for a more joyous one.

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