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Branding That Works: Dollar Shave Club

Jake Gibbs | December 4, 2015 

“Shave time, shave money,” claims the bold, edgy, we’re-gonna-kick-your-butt-Gillette brand Dollar Shave Club (DSC). Founded in 2011 in California, DSC provides a subscription service for razors and other male grooming products mailed right to your door.

From startup to gaining over $148 million in venture capital, DSC has Gillette, their primary competitor, on their heels and worried about its falling market share. Through their creative, in-your-face branding, DSC connects with male customers incredibly well in their product differentiation and their marketing tone.

Few brands have the flexibility that DSC has in being so edgy and bold. But the point is that whether you sell insurance, ninja stars, or accounting services, you can be creative and fun. If you’re boring, you’ll be beat by your more exciting competitors. Your brand can and should have a strong, unique voice.

What makes the DSC brand so successful? Their subscription service means no more retail trips and no more forgetting to buy razors. Their razors don’t have the fanciness of Gillette razors, but many customers don’t care about the over-the-top features of expensive razors. DSC razors, offered at a $1, $3, and $5/month variety, all have quality blades and handles that shave well. Their one-two punch of price, quality, and convenience makes them a great alternative to Gillette razors.

Aside from their product/service, their actual brand is the true hero in what makes them a smashing success. Let’s look at 3 things they do really, really well.

No fear

How many times are companies afraid to try something new and different? DSC founder stars in the following marketing commercial, which you’ll just have to see to believe.

Only the most daring marketing teams would dare venture into the realm of having a slogan of “Our blades are f**king great”. Yes, that undoubtedly pushes the line a bit, but that’s the point Dollar Shave Club wants to make. They want to say, “Forget about retail stores. Forget about expensive razors. We’ve got a better alternative.” How do you get that point across as a startup with little initial capital competing against behemoths? You push the limits and you say your message boldly with a megaphone, perhaps with a few politically incorrect phrases sprinkled in.

To tone it down, here’s a milder commercial that still gets their point across well.

Fresh, Unique Tone

Now let’s look at the copy DSC uses. Their tone is funny, fresh, and conversational. While their lines would make most English teachers cringe, their short, almost slang-like verbiage conveys their core value proposition in a way that men get and appreciate. DSC makes it feel like they are talking to you one-on-one in a pool hall. And customers appreciate that fresh take.

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The razor packaging always has some sort of funny quote or phrase on it. Also packaged is the funny, interesting monthly publication DSC includes called “The Bathroom Minutes”. The pamphlet is full of funny and interesting tidbits and facts on all sorts of things.

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Traditional product comparison charts are kind of boring and tedious to read through. Not so here. The funny yet appropriate comparisons here make it fun to see the differences between their 3 primary products.

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This funny ad showcases a balloon man shaving.

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Appropriate Design

Let’s look at the design DSC uses to connect with their predominantly male audience.

Their logo is simple but memorable. With a crest-like feel, it somehow denotes a brotherhood. Though simple, the logo does its job.

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Second, the color palate and use of wood grain gets the manly feel across. With browns and greys forming the base and an orange for calls to action, their color use is appropriate and effective.

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Third, their use of typography is excellent. Their headline font reinforces the manly, rugged theme, while their secondary fonts are easy to read and good at conveying information. They are very succinct and to the point in their wording, which conveys a sense of convenience as well.

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Lastly, check out their site on a mobile phone. Excellent. They have a quality, responsive design for all device types.

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In summary, few brands have the flexibility that DSC has in being so edgy and bold. But the point is that whether you sell insurance, ninja stars, or accounting services, you can be creative and fun. If you’re boring, you’ll be beat by your more exciting competitors. Your brand can and should have a strong, unique voice. Just maybe tone it down a couple notches from DSC!

p.s. After this blog posted, we received a really nice email from Dollar Shave Club thanking us for the shout out. So, we wanted to be sure and share the link to their Razor Options page! Happy shaving, everyone!

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Jake Gibbs

Jake Gibbs | Design Specialist

Jake Gibbs is a Design Specialist at ListEngage and an expert at designing and building elegant, cross-platform compatible, mobile responsive emails and landing pages on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. From brainstorming and ideation to polishing the final product, he loves the creative process. Jake has worked with more than 60 clients since joining ListEngage in 2014. Some of his projects have included L’Oreal, Vanguard, Carhartt, Harvard Business School, RCI/Wyndham, Huggies, and Planet Fitness.