Eric Bandholz

In the last post, we examined the fragility of memory and attention. We evaluated their impact on mental models and our interactions with the world. We discovered that people are more likely use products if the products behave as expected. Unpredictable systems are unreliable and seldom adopted. No one recruits a wrench to do a hammer’s job.

Beardbrand, a company that sells beard care products and supports a devoted community of likeminded people, understands the design of humans and centers a product experience around it. Beardbrand employs a human-centered approach by using contextual visual cues, scent descriptors, and relatable content to serve its members.

In the beginning of our series, we talked about the value of starting with a minimum viable audience. Beardbrand began by finding the smallest group of people it could serve – urban men with beards. Eric Bandholz, CEO and founder of Beardbrand, said his goal was to bust the myth that only bikers and lumberjacks have beards. By focusing on a serving a specific group of people, Bandholz fulfilled an unmet need and turned early prospects into fans.

Unpredictable systems are unreliable and seldom adopted. No one recruits a wrench to do a hammer’s job.

Beardbrand’s early adopters did not wear average beards; these beards seem to boast a personality of their own. Beardbrand built beard care products for its minimum viable audience in the extremes — not the mainstream. The extreme beards were thick, long, silky, and commanded attention.

Beardbrand paired images with advice and strategies on how to wear similarly well-groomed beards. Bandholz mentioned a lot of his early success came from the content strategy of Beardbrand’s magazine. The magazine was an extension of the Beardbrand ecosystem and dispensed advice on style and grooming techniques. By profiling members from its community, the magazine also revealed to be a source of inspiration.

Beardbrand also connected with early adopters through personal stories. Bandholz is very open about his personal life and often shares stories and empathizes with customers facing similar struggles. Bandholz has used empathy to build stronger relationships and connect with people beyond a transaction. The connection is often echoed through multiple sources, such as his personal newsletters and the Beardbrand YouTube channel.

Bandholz has used empathy to build stronger relationships and connect with people beyond a transaction.

“Life is so much more than buying stuff; it’s about becoming better,” Bandholz said. “And you become better when you help other people.”

By examining the choices that Beardbrand has made, you can spot many of the  core concepts we’ve explored during this series. This is just one example of how executing on these points — from focusing on a minimum viable audience to employing a human-centered approach — can result in a stronger and more successful product in the long run.