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Rewriting the Rules of Culture: How to Build an Emotionally Resonant Brand - Andrew Dudum

Andrew Dudum
Founder & CEO at hims & hers
+ 1 speaker
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2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
February 11, 2020, Redwood City, CA, USA
2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
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Rewriting the Rules of Culture: How to Build an Emotionally Resonant Brand - Andrew Dudum
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About speakers

Andrew Dudum
Founder & CEO at hims & hers
Kirsten Green
Founder and Managing Partner at Forerunner Ventures

Andrew is a Founder & CEO at Hims & Hers. He is also a Cofounder and General Partner at Atomic, a venture-builder in San Francisco backed by Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen and many of the leading venture funds in the world. He is serial founder, active angel investor and advisor to over two dozen startups. Andrew graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Kirsten is the founder of Forerunner Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. She combines an experience and thesis driven approach, with a consumer centric view, to identify visionary entrepreneurs and compelling brand platforms. Through her work at Forerunner, she has partnered with some of the most promising companies in the current evolution of commerce.

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About the talk

A Fireside chat with Andrew Dudum, Founder + CEO of hims & hers talking about How to Build an Emotionally Resonant Brand. Interviewed by Kirsten Green, Founding Partner at Forerunner Ventures.


00:15 Intro

03:10 About hims & hers company

06:55 The framework of bringing the company to life

12:20 Integrity and building trust with a consumer

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Okay. Hi, it's nice to be here with everyone today. We just heard that this is the last session before the break. So hopefully you guys can hang in for 15 minutes. It is really fine and such a privilege to be here today with all of you and especially to be on stage with my friend Andrew dudum who I'm fortunate to also be an investor in a partner in his business with him. And so we're here to talk about rewriting the rules of culture how to build an emotionally resonant brand at 4Runner. We invest in early-stage companies. We've done quite a bit of investing in consumer-facing

businesses as a Hallmark. We've really tried to keep in touch with the consumer think about what's going on in their lives how they're thinking about the world-changing around them how their spending habits are changing how their triggers are changing how they are prioritizing kind of what they're engaging with and in doing that over the last in a year in 10 years or so in particular. There's been just a really big change. I'm on every dimension in that Matrix for consumers today. We live in a really multi-dimensional world. I miss you kind of think back to you know, maybe a

two decades ago at this point where we didn't have digital like we do today and people kind of went to stores to shop or they stayed at home and watch TV and saw ads and that's how they learned about products or they looked through a magazine or a newspaper and learned about products and then went to the store is to touch and feel them there was kind of just you know, it's that was a very two-dimensional relationship where the Brand's got to sort of make a statement about what their company sued for with their products good for what the value proposition was and then a consumer really

was left to kind of make their own decision about that today in this multi-dimensional Digital World brands have an opportunity to demonstrate their value proposition to express themselves in so many different channels. Yes, they can still use all of those kind of old-time. Mechanisms, but there is like the live internet that's happening in real-time all the social platforms around that all the social engagement that happens with people sharing and in some ways brands have almost had the opportunity to kind of and body being like people, you know, and sort of really thinking about how do they

show up for AdSense on Facebook in a way that's authentic to them versus how did they show up on a TV at 6 and take to them or in a newspaper or side-by-side another brand it's all a little bit different and nuanced but it needs to connect to the core and in that is you know, in some ways it's kind of an overwhelming challenge, but it's also a really special unique opportunity to create a close connection with your consumers as a business. And so today we get to talk about how we tackle that at hymns and her so why don't we maybe start by just setting some some contacts and

telling us a little bit about what the company does and how has you kind of left it bringing it to life how you thought About the competitive set and where the opportunity was to differentiate the work and hers. I lost my Razor and I guess if you know you are between us they like 20 and 45. raise your hand if you I recently went to the doctor's office in the last like 2 years. That's better than a lot of people by the way to see you guys are all very healthy. So that's great. So essentially is makes that experience of connecting you with a licensed physician

connecting you with products that are amazing that work for things that are pretty uncomfortable to talk about I won't do this but about likes 30% of this room just based on your ages suffers from EDD about 25% of this room is losing your hair smells very common things. And what does essentially is makes it just amazing the normal by giving you all of the tools necessary from your phone to connect to the physician get access to information have a beautiful experience with a brand that is coming to you and meeting you where

you are from a stigma standpoint from kind of a feeling of may be overwhelming concern wherever you're at and makes that beautiful and so, you know, Come to Brand building a person. I've been working on this brand together. She was one of our First Investors for now, maybe three years and the thing that was critical for us was how do you have a point of view that can help the person you're treating and the person that you're serving? And so when you look at our brand if anyone is aware of it, you know, there's a very strong personality that mean it's the personality that is is core

to me. It's actually I'm Channel than in a lot of ways my younger sister. So if you ever read our marketing you can think of my 24 year old sister who's like this badass New Yorker who is way cooler than me and she yells at me all day long about how I need to like get my shit together. You know, your hair is kind of looking dry your skin and so she's direct and honest and so when we built the brand we were channeling that we're channeling this this really authentic love and care for somebody in a way that most brands today. Talk they don't they don't

speak like that about if it was for something really critical just to Echo something Kirsten said it's crazy in the brand world today. It's it's never been easier. I think to build a company because of what Kirsten was saying, which is any of us can go online open up a Facebook account throw some money at some Instagram ads and then boom you got a company and you're selling something right? And because it's so easy. It's also so freaking hard to build a brand. So it's never been easier to build a company. It's never been harder to build a brand and so you have to be so considered and

intentional about what your brand stands for and where it shows up in all the intricate details. And I think that's something that we spend a ton of time on it him's and hers and I think at the end of the day, so it might not be the thing that's driving today is revenue or today is valuation or the reason this investor gave us cashed but it will be the equity driving value 5 + 10 + 15 years out if you're Investing For That duration Sissy kind of think about your business as a case study around brand building in the Modern Age and I think one of those that opportunity / challenges of

rain wedding today is its marketing but it's also how you put it in. How do you express it in your product? And how does it come through an experience? So when you kind of think about those three pillars like talk a little bit about the framework that you used to think about like bringing him that hurts to life in that context question. So, you know what the thing about health care in general in this is the place we started where Healthcare company is that it makes you feel sick. It makes me feel sick, right I go to the pharmacy. I pick up some meds. The doctor wasn't paying

attention to me for maybe three minutes and they're typing over here while I'm sitting over here. They're not looking at the eye, right and then you go to the pharmacy to pick up these meds that jiggle in that, you know, gross orange bottle all of us have these and you go home and every single morning when you take it it reminds you that there's something wrong right that you're sick and that just eats away at this is not something Patricia healthcare system has thought about right they don't think about us as people. They think about the fact that when we picked up that medicine the

insurance company reimburse a certain amount or the pairs of providers are all interconnected from a financial standpoint, but very little of it has to do with us. And so with him's and hers it was all about. How do you redesign this experience so that we feel great. We feel empowered we feel educated. We feel good when we're experiencing this stuff. And so we sell today at his and hers and you can go on on your mobile device like 90% of orders are on on phones. We sell everything from vitamin supplements for heart health immunity sleep all the way to ED medication

acne prescriptions customized tretinoin for anti-aging or melasma or psoriasis. I mean all types of stuff but each of the products has actually been designed to make us feel great. So the shampoo it's an anti hair loss shampoo. It's probably like if you are go to And get a comp a $40 shampoo, that's oily and blue and kind of disgusting or shampoo is amazing. It smells like he stopped that says I love that brand like ladders like crazy guys literally send me no joke like hundreds of videos a week of them dancing in the shower listening to music using our

shampoo and it's anti hair loss shampoo. And so when you watch. The demonstration that ties in the fact that we've created a fun brand that makes you feel happy and the product is that too and said it's like easy to get another expression together in a customer coming back with that feedback themselves. That's what's really critical about. These this new wave of Brands. It's not just about selling something is but having a relationship it's it's about catalyzing some type of emotion or likes you encouraging some type of conversation. And so when I see a man or

woman you're using one of our products and it tastes great like the vitamin supplement actually tastes amazing or you do for r e d medication. ED medication it's not like, you know necessarily the most fun thing to get delivered to your home. We would spray the labo santal 28, which is like a really expensive front knows it may be funny but weird spray every box the inside of the box with that cologne because when the men would open it or when their Partners would open it, it smelled amazing and so it removed that sting. And so all of these things are with the intention of

building that loyalty and that love and to acknowledge that we're taking care of people and even though this is Healthcare and even though this is scary stuff. And even though this is us sometimes being sick we're going to make it is beautiful and the fun and engaging as possible and I think that's what's really different from the newer brands that are succeeding today. And I think some of the older brands where was very one-dimensional array was very it was very much you do man walking on the beach with white linen pants. And that was true. We looked at who needed this product and in

reality. It's all of us. This is a very diverse very different group of people about bringing it to life right in that touches on the fact that there's like all these different touch points that makes it three-dimensional. It's also you need to be to get in healthcare space. It's not an area that's been as consumer-focused and for the last decade-plus in particular. There's been a lot of focus on the consumer in a pint of the Commerce and consumer side of the business and bringing Nunez there and delighting the customer. The customers are very high bars ever-increasing and more or less

business is our meeting it particularly on this kind of what I think of is the one side and over on the Need side, which is where Healthcare comes into play. It's been a little bit more of a contained Factor clothes after big institutionalize our insurance providers and it hasn't had the same kind of consumer mindset, right and so like there's a unique opportunity to really stand out in the context of that and getting back to Andrews point about like it being like one of you know of the walls to starting a business of really I'm broken down and that's very exciting. But on the other side

of that is just a whole lot of noise. You got to get through and how do you do that? And you could have got to think I think in the context of the category or in and a competitive landscape and you don't have your own point of view your own eat. That was what you can absorb is your own DNA, but also think about how that counter punches against the rest of the competitive set and sew along those lines. I think hymns about you know, really joyful supportive brand which is even more unique in the healthcare rant and Healthcare space and we do have a lot of like comedy and humor and

self-deprecation it hard to sort of like Get out of your bum and get it together a type of attitude at the same time. We're in a really serious industry and there needs to be a high bar around Integrity in building trust with a consumer. So let's talk a little bit about how we balance those two things together when we were building the brand. Maybe before we launched him's and hers which was about two years ago when we were deciding about how to how to build this thing. And we had maybe like

15 different names for this company that we were thinking through but one of the things we did was we actually designed different brands before we ever launched. We probably designed to maybe five or six of them and they looks like completely separate companies, but they're all representative of what we wanted the company and then we sat on it for like weeks. We literally sat on it. We designed what it would look like if it was this brand one of them was called triple point. One of them was called McCoy

hymns and hers almost didn't exist was almost McCoy like to thank God, it's not that you actually Experiment with your brand like it is a living thing. It's going to change its going to adapt but you need to actually see it in real life to feel it. And I think what was really critical was for us. There's a ton of Health Care Brands where they're beating you over the head about how safe they are. Right? It's like this stuff is FDA-approved or this is trusted by doctors when you walk through the aisles of like Walgreens or CVS, you see the stuff

all over the place. This is how the old Brands would confirm to you that this stuff was safe. We decided to essentially ditch that entirely because I think the new generation of consumer frankly doesn't want to be told that this stuff is safe and if this stuff is the best and that this stuff is trusted they want to be shown it, right they want to be showing it by other people validating that this product works for they want to be shown it by when they pick up the product. It feels amazing and it feels heavy and waited and considered and design or when they pop the carpet smells good like

Those touchpoints build trust and so for us, you know, when you go to him's and hers it doesn't actually talk about our doctors, even though we have 300 + licensed Physicians and their you're 15 years of experience clinically and the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic is on the board and all of these days. We don't talk about that at all because to us to this group of consumers what matters is that? We are taking care of them along each step of the way and aware of where they are when they're experiencing these issues and then catering a solution to that. So it was a very different approach and I

will tell you that as a Founder almost everybody told me that was the wrong approach. And so I mean, I don't know raise your hand if you're you know, if you run a company or I was thinking of running a company All right, that's a lot of you so you have one of the biggest pieces of advice I can I can give you one when it comes to building a brand is the only way to build something truly unique and Kirsten is actually the one who told me this years ago is to make sure it is authentically you to the core. You cannot Outsource your brand to an agency ever write

like authentically and all those different ways and if it doesn't come from that kind of a place it's very hard to do this. Right like we had some the best agencies in the world help us think through different questions involved it and we still do but at the end of day I probably still and my marketing team and you know, I drive him crazy. I still probably set you know, what that doesn't feel right at all. And even though all the smartest people that were around say the facts. What's what's right for a campaign or that's the direction if it doesn't feel right.

It's not right and you won't be able to keep it authentic as you grow. And so To have a strong point of view. It needs to be you. So Bethel scary, right cuz means you can't Outsource. It means you have to come up with that yourself, but but I would spend time thinking about that because it's what I think one of the best ways to break through with a brand that's that's special. Thank you Andrew for sharing all your insights and I would offer in summary as I could take away is this idea that like building a brand today is a really multi-dimensional experience. It's not just a

marketing exercise. It's a product experience and a product effort and an experience effort around how you design your engagement with your customer.

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