Working with nature.

Some very famous brands have been talking to us recently about ethics.

Concerns have been raised about the wool fibre grown for their products. Animal activist groups, and lets be fair, who don’t really have a good reputation so far as unbiased and honest report go, claim that humans eat sheep. This is true; their claims are a worry in that they also claim that sheep are treated cruelly during their life on the farm.   At this point please be clear that they are not accusing New Zealand farmers!

 Here is the truth.

Sheep are grown all around the world. Local customs and local environments mean that standards and practices vary.

In New Zealand there are strict laws on animal welfare, good environmental management and social welfare. It’s a modern society with lots of checks in place to ensure that everything is done in a nice way.     The clean and green New Zealand brand is fiercely protected. The last thing Kiwi’s want is to be seen as out of sync with nature.

New Zealand farmers are animal lovers that enjoy working with nature. Sheep are grown for food with wool being a relatively small part of the farmer’s income. The sheep are kept in large free-range properties, are sheltered, well fed and well looked after. A happy healthy sheep is a more productive animal.

The wool is taken from sheep once or twice a year depending on the type of sheep and the type of product the wool is grown for. During the shearing process the sheep are held in pens while they wait for their haircut. The sheep are held by the shearer in a relaxed state, and do not resist this process. They then go back to the paddock.

The farmers look after the land so that it can be passed onto their children and they look after the animals so they will be productive and keep giving us wool.

Not all parts of the world are as plentiful as New Zealand enjoying as much rainfall and sunshine and a moderate climate for wool.  Third-world farming communities need our help and support so they too can reach maximum potential.

Rather the calling for a boycott on wool, which hurts the good growers, why not work with these communities and show them how it’s done. Shunning third world farmers out of your own ignorance does not make the world a better place.

Campaigns of anger create tension; destroy livelihoods and ultimately force people to do desperate things to feed their family.   These extremist need to put down their digital placards and become part of the solution.

The video below illustrates the shearing process. Which as well as not causing any discomfort to the sheep, provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people in the textile industry around the world.

Authenticity – Design Language

Design is not skin deep.

There are companies that create an amazing product and enjoy short term success, much like pop stars that have a one hit wonder, these companies soon get overlooked and blend into the white noise market graveyard.  Then there are companies that consistently turn out winning products again and again.  This is achieved through a consistent and authentic Design Language.

Your “Design Language” is the overarching scheme or style that guides the design of a complement of products and or services.  Or in simpler terms your design language is a deliberate and methodical way of presenting your brand that is consistent and authentic.

Companies that understand the total customer experience and build customer awareness into their business strategy win time and time again.  It is not enough to make a boring product and make a donation to an eco-charity in order to claim sustainability.  Neither can you hire a designer to make your product look prettier to fool people into thinking you have a cool brand.

Building a cool brand takes years of being consistent and authentic about everything you do.  Everything about your company and product and the way you deliver your product must all be consistent with the design language you wish to deliver.

Your customer service, the look of your product, the materials you use, the way you take care of your staff, the way you treat your suppliers, where you put your manufacturing waste, what your business cards are printed on and how you fix things when you  get it wrong all need to be carefully orchestrated and thought out.

Once you decide on your design language and communicate clearly to all of your employees and suppliers and empower theses people to contribute to its evolution you will start making your business one that your customers keep returning to.  You will have an authentic customer experience.

We do this with wool carpets,  We create products of exceptional beauty based on the trends that we see emerging and we deliver sustainably produced wool to the manufactures, who are all signed up to our mission.  We tell the story at retail and on our websites.  Now we are thinking about what goes under the carpet and are working to deliver underlay made from recycled tyres and carpet waste.  Of course we will be printing the brochures and merchandising materials on recycled materials.  But it goes deeper.  We are not selling wool, or even carpets.  We are in the business of delivering an exceptional experience with wool.  That has to include not just what the product is made of but how that product is made and how the customer feels.  We don’t make wool we use wool carpets and textile as the portal to a luxurious and comfortable lifestyle.

MID Carpet in New Zealand Wool

MID Carpet in New Zealand Wool

When there is an emotional connection between you and your customer you move from selling a commodity to becoming a much loved brand.

Different

Just a few short years ago the captains of the UK carpet industry were adamant that the market was flooded with brands and there was no way that we could introduce another brand without annoying retailers and confusing consumers.

They were right that there are too many brands but they were wrong to underestimate their customers.  We weren’t talking about introducing just another brand; our intention was to create Laneve™ to identify carpets and textiles of exceptional beauty and integrity.

There will always be room for a new brand if it stands for something that is new, different and better than all the noise that is already out there.  It turns out that the more flooded the market is the more consumers and retailers seek out what’s special.

Perhaps we did not explain ourselves properly all those years ago. We should have said…

“We are going to create the ultimate customer experience using the most sustainable and robust materials and wrap it up in the most sumptuous textiles. Then we will communicate the technical and ethical advantages of our product to the growing number of affluent consumers who care about what they expose their families to and who care about our planet”

We could have spent an eternity trying to convince the old boys, but we just got on and did it. It’s called Laneve and its available now through retailers that have shared our vision and our passion…

We are lucky as our product comes from a part of the world where beauty and sustainability is mandatory.

A Laneve wool factory in New Zealand

We chose to create an ethical brand centred on sustainability – But then we grow wool so it was kind of a natural fit.  But your brand can have any ethos you design, just so long as it’s different and it is genuine.

Oh and one last thing. The brand is not the logo; the brand is what you stand for and what your customers think of you. Without customers you don’t have a brand, you just have a logo.

Not just a logo – Laneve is special.

How to Break Your Brand

Many brands promise a lot but then deliver less.
It is tempting when income streams dry up to cut a few corners, downgrade on the specification, buy cheaper parts, and hope the end user does not notice.

They notice and they leave!

If your product doesn’t do what it says on the tin.  If you promise one thing and deliver another, then you are probably going to get found out, and your customers will leave you.  But it gets worse…  they will go and tell ten friends, they will discuss it in the boardroom and at the water cooler.. You are basically stuffed.
The hard work you put in building your brand can be ruined far quicker than it took to make it in the first place.

How to ruin your brand in four easy steps…

 

 Woolblogs’s step by step guide to commercial suicide.

Brand-aid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1. – Create a great product.

You do this by listening to the market. Truly understanding consumer needs and desires and delivering a solution before anyone else.  Do not confuse this step with ‘create a product’ You have to be 1st and original, otherwise you are an alternative product! You could only compete on price so you will never be a great brand if you compromise during the design phase.

Step 2. – Build Sales and Brand Reputation.

This will be easy if you followed step 1.
Great products sell by word of mouth. People enjoy using them and enjoy telling their friends. This is an important point as it will aid in our mission to destroy our business.

Step 3. – Cheapen the blend.

Now you know what your customer needs and wants you are safe right?
You have the distribution and the reputation.   A small tweak to the blend of parts and services won’t hurt.

Maybe you have built sufficient volume that you can deliver more efficient products via an integrated pipeline. You pay less and deliver the same value. That won’t help us on our mission.

We need to substitute those well performing elements for lesser and cheaper bits and bobs.  In the long-term we want the consumer experience to be just a little less.

Step 4. – Ignore the competition

While we have been focusing on ripping off our suppliers and our customers some bright spark has copied our business model, but improved the features and the delivery time. They took our offering to the next level and are effectively stealing our market share. Don’t worry about this.. It’s going to help.  For goodness sake do not speak to your customers and ask how you can improve your own offering.

Step 4. – Sit back and wait.

That is all you have to do. More quickly than you built your brand you have destroyed it. Your products are breaking down, when they finally get delivered that is.
Your customers are blogging against you and spreading the word of what a remarkably pathetic company you have become.