As Bert Jacobs, CEO of Life is Good, explains it, he and his brother never set out to change the world back in 1989, when they founded the company. They simply wanted to sell t-shirts and earn a profit. Retail was once a fairly straightforward business governed by the simple laws of supply and demand and of course-price. Today, however, retailers strive to connect with consumers on an emotional level and Life is Good is delivering on the promise of their company name — and infusing a much needed dose of optimism, passion, and joy into the world.
In his keynote presentation at the National Retail Federation’s event in January, Jacobs shared a letter that he received in the early days of his business from two children, both with physical handicaps, who expressed pure and simple joy in the slogans they wore proudly on their Life is Good t-shirts. As Jacobs demonstrated via this letter, those who embrace optimism will shift their focus from what’s wrong in the world to what’s right in the world. And with regards to building a successful brand, he stated that “You can’t build a brand on your own, we have entered a world where customers co-author your story.” Jacobs emphasized that the brand doesn’t own the stories, the stories belong to the recipients of the messages.
It is clear that Life is Good is selling a whole lot more than a t-shirt- their brand has meaning to people and offers them optimism and hope. It seems simple but yet it is not. Retailers today are expected to also be in the business of education, entertainment, etc. in a continuous effort to stay relevant and interesting. And what is the likely outcome for brands that don’t go that extra mile to connect with consumers?
Three out of four people surveyed indicated that they would not care if the brands they used disappeared from their lives. According to Lori- Mitchell Keller, SVP of Retail at SAP, “In an era when shoppers can buy pretty much any product at any place and at any time, what will make them purchase from your store or your website? To compete, your brand will have to be bigger than the products you sell. Your brand will have to be about your culture, about what your company stands for. And that culture will have to pervade every aspect of the experience you give your customers.”
Watch the video below featuring an interview with Jim Fields, VP Marketing at SAP and Bert Jacobs, CEO of Life is Good.