While technically Indie Brands is a generic term that could describe any independently owned company, in popular use the term has come to represent a new breed of entrepreneur that is progressive, creative and not afraid to rewrite the rules of traditional business. These entrepreneurs are harnessing shifts in technology, manufacturing and human behavior to break through the barriers that small companies have traditionally faced in reaching a global audience.
Here are the five qualities that define Indie Brands:
Indie brands are founded with a mission to serve the specific needs of a niche audience. They are often born out of the desire of the founder to solve a problem that he or she is passionate about, and it is this passion that defines the brand. Indie brands have an authentic creation story that provides a distinct marketing advantage by resonating deeply with their target audience.
By definition, an indie brand is initially funded by its founders. An indie brand’s financial limitations can often be a strength as they are forced to find innovative ways to meet their capital requirements such as crowdfunding, pre-sales and partnerships. This bootstrapped approach gives them an underdog advantage that appeals to consumers seeking an alternative to mass market brands.
Indie brands are fundamentally design driven. They place a premium on design and manufacturing process as a key differentiator, and their products often have an artisanal quality that extends to the smallest details of functionality, packaging and marketing. Because of their emphasis on design, indie brands are not afraid to demand a premium for their products when justified.
An indie brand is distinct from a software startup or service based business in that they produce physical goods. Because they often employ novel manufacturing processes and materials, or simply by virtue of their limited resources, they produce their products in smaller numbers, giving their brand a more exclusive, coveted quality.
Indie brands are able to upend the traditional marketing playbook by creating a unique and compelling brand story that is often tied to a social initiative. They compete with and win against larger brands by making innovative use of emerging platforms, content marketing and social media to reach a niche audience.
Indie brands are creating a market revolution as young entrepreneurs buck the traditional corporate path and take advantage of lower barriers to designing, manufacturing and distributing their own products. While the points above do not represent a strict definition, many of the most innovative emerging brands in fashion, accessories, consumables and lifestyle products embody these qualities.