Direct to you: How D2C brands are bossing authenticity

Authentic brands close the gap between brand identity and brand behaviour.

Find out how D2C brands are bossing authenticity, featuring:

  • How Who Gives A Crap position mission over product
  • How Nike controls their brand image
  • How Good Pair Days enable brand connectivity
  • Insights from Mike Stevens & Phil Koziol

There’s nothing like the power of brand to get your business the right exposure. And in a world where authenticity is becoming more and more unfakeable, a sound marketing strategy is key to getting a D2C brand off the ground.

Mike Stevens is the author of the Direct-To-Consumer Playbook – check it out here.

What makes a brand ‘authentic’ anyway?

Authentic brands close the gap between brand identity and brand behaviour.

Authenticity accounts for 92% of brand trust. DELOITTE

And trust is the new brand equity. EDELMAN

How are D2C brands authentic by nature?

The D2C model gives brands a centrally-controlled overview of every touchpoint, every purchase, and every person behind the purchase.

It also leaves them with their pants down; exposed to the elements, but with an unparalleled opportunity to show the world who they really are.

Those that do it well, turn that intimacy into more than just brand love. They turn it into trust.

1. They position mission over product

In the current brandscape, it’s difficult to compete on product alone.

The thing that distinguishes a brand from its peers is a great mission—one that creates a genuine sense of togetherness, and humanises an organisation from the inside out.

Brand missions have become so much more than a nice-to- have, and the D2C brands bossing it are the ones going about their business in an honest way. By giving their audiences a bigger buy-in, they build relationships based on shared values.


Most people aren’t *too* fussy about where they get their toilet paper from—until you add the mother of all missions into the mix.

Toilet paper manufacturer Who Gives A Crap failed to break into the traditional retail model, turned away by supermarket buyers with big brand alliances. But that just gave them more oomph to serve their customers in a different way, and the space shout about their mission: building toilets for people who need them.

“ To make D2C work, a brand has to work harder to explain what they’re about, and show an audience more of themselves in the process. That requirement means authenticity is a given. Understanding and aligning with a brand’s mission and purpose is essential for customers to build trust and an emotional connection with a brand and it’s products.”


2. They control brand image

The strongest D2C brands are maniacally focused on customer experience—so cutting out third parties, and making sure every bit of brand collateral is centrally controlled and approved, is key to success.

By monitoring how a brand behaves at every touchpoint, D2C businesses can create a consistent outward projection of who they are. Customers then reward that consistency with insights that lead to a better brand experience.

47% of CMOs in the UK believe that over the next 12 months, D2C channels will have greater control over how their brand is portrayed. YOUGOV


Nike have built up one of the strongest brand personalities in the game, and continue to outrank other sportswear brands when it comes to consumer perception.

For the past few years, they’ve have been cutting back third party distribution to focus on their own direct-to-consumer efforts—pulling some of their products from Foot Locker, their largest supplier, earlier this year.

Given 70% of Foot Locker’s sales in 2021 Nike products, Nike are expected to take a hit: sales are predicted to decline by 10% in 2022. But it’s a price they’re willing to pay for a more consistently Nike-ified customer experience.

“The beauty of a D2C brand is that it’s not diluted. It doesn’t have to rely on other businesses to serve its customers; meaning it has full control over its brand image. When a consumer picks a product off a shelf in a superstore, they only get a limited view into a brand. When they buy direct, they get a fast-tracked insight into who brands are and what they stand for.”


3. They enable brand connectivity

D2C = direct to community. Without any third party involvement, D2C brands can connect directly with their community and effectively evangelise a core group.

Getting up close and personal with your audience means data for you, and authenticity for them. It’s easier to tune in to feedback, respond to requests, tailor targeted ads and personalise individual experiences. But there’s also nowhere to hide; so whatever it is you’re showing your customers, they better like what they see.

“These brands drive a lot more customer intimacy than their competition. The data is better because every transaction and interaction is captured”



Good Pair Days are de-snobifying the world of wine. They’ve ditched the traditional, elitist ways of the industry in favour for a digitally-native subscription service that brings good wine to the masses.

Their taste profile palate quiz gets to know new customers off the bat, learning their likes and dislikes to inform curation decisions. But their strength is in their typically D2C postpurchase experience, where they encourage interaction, engagement and balanced back-and-forth.

They’re transparent about their process, down to earth in their tone, and undeniably real in the way they do business. The result? A brand that’s authentically connected to its customer.

“ The D2C model allows us to collect reviews and ratings of each wine we send which allows us to make authentic personalised recommendations, leading to safe discovery of new wines because customers trust us with their tastes!”


“The direct connection with their customers is what makes D2C brands work. Customers can interact directly with the people who make the products in a way that is just not feasible for bricks and mortar products. Also, the informational advantage brands have from the data provided by their customers means that it makes sense for a D2C brand to interact with their customers as much as possible. Personal connection with customers is made possible by the D2C model, and it’s a win-win for both the brand and the customer.”


4. What’s next for D2C?

Global audiences: With access to an infinite global audience, D2C brands have absolutely no barriers. “In the direct-to-consumer channel, we continue to look at the entire world as an extension opportunity for all of our brands” RICHARD HAYNE

Test & learn opportunity: “There’s a far greater opportunity to test & learn to really understand what drives commercial performance. This will enable the D2C retailer to become far more agile, responding in real-time to what the data is showing resonates with the customer” CHRIS ELLSMORE, HEAD OF ACQUISITION, MONICA VINADER

Scope for personalisation: as tech opens up opportunities for more granular data collection, we’ll know customers and their habits on a whole new level. Allowing for personalisation allows for “penetration into markets that have traditionally been occupied by large multinational retailers” TOM SHURVILLE, MD, DISTINCTLY

“The future of DTC will rely on product quality and service. You can’t compete on cheapness, range or quick delivery with the conglomerates but you can compete with product quality and superior service!” PHIL KOZIOL, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER AT GOOD PAIR DAYS

5. What’s in it for me?

Whether you’re a young D2C business looking to launch, or an established brand looking to strengthen your relationship with your customers, the potential of D2C is growing year on year.

The sales value of British D2C manufacturers was forecast to increase 25% in the next three years in 2020, reaching 120 billion pounds by 2023. STATISTA

57% of customers prefer going direct to businesses for better prices and service. YOUGOV

Sellers pay Amazon about $34 per $100 in sales THE VERGE, missing out on revenue that could be better spent on their brand and D2C marketing strategy.

Let’s chat!

There’s nothing like the power of brand to get your business the right exposure. And in a world where authenticity is becoming more and more unfakeable, a sound marketing strategy is key to getting a D2C brand off the ground.

Looking to turn your customers into lifelong fans? Drop us a line [email protected]

Check out The Generation Game to find out how brands are looking to engage with this digitally native, purpose-driven, and demanding audience.

Download the full report
We'll send the PDF straight to your email

    Recent Posts
    See All