046: Brandless – reimagining a brand based on community, authenticity, and the people it serves



“We’re not anti-brand, we’re not not a brand, we’re just reimagining what it means to be a brand”

Following her dream to make it possible for everyone to have access to better stuff for fewer dollars, in July this year Tina Sharkey launched Brandless.

Brandless wants people to live more and brand less, to tell their own stories, and to drop the false narratives sold by Madison Avenue.

“We want to aspire to help people live the lives they want to live”

For Tina, co-founder and CEO of the company, Brandless is about more than any individual product they sell. It is about the true democratization of goodness.

Brandless promises to keep prices low by eliminating the BrandTax – the hidden costs you pay for a national brand. Its simple white labeling was designed by a team of product and marketing experts and food scientists, what Brandless co-founder and CEO Tina Sharkey calls the “white box council.” The products are tailored to the conscious urban millennial and other shoppers who are “very connected to their values.”

Brandless – reimagining what it is to be a brand based on community, authenticity, the people it serves.

Is Brandless the future of consumerism? Listen to the interview and you decide!

1:00 – Welcoming Tina to the show, Tina is co-founder and CEO of Brandless.

2:44 – Tina’s approach of being a cultural anthropologist and studying people and behavior.

3:40 – What Brandless is all about.

5:35 – The progression of brands and the democratization of storytelling that led to the idea of Brandless.

10:24 – How this progression is a move away from the idea that brands dictate the narrative and how consumers are responding.

12:44 – The pushback about the premium prices needlessly placed on things like healthy foods.

14:35 – How brands relate to both truth and trust with consumers.

16:55 – Connecting democratization of information to the demise of cigarettes and brands being manipulative; the role of social media in that shift and how Brandless is breaking that down.

19:49 – An examples of how Brandless incorporates their customers’ creativity.

21:02 – Treating consumers as people and how that can enhance a brand and community through conversation.

22:31 – The ubiquity of reviews from the crowd and how that can improve lives.

23:30 – Reactions to Brandless from bigger brands and being an early stage startup, listening to and building with the people in their community.

26:14 – Brandless as more of a movement than simply a retailer.

28:09 – Connecting with brands more personally with the example Tina gives from a morning hike; building that into all their products.

30:22 – The value of the vulnerability from bringing the consumers into the process and community.

31:40 – Brandless’ current scale and what’s coming up for them.

34:05 – Benefits of having a curated selection of reasonable sized products at $3 each.

36:24 – Feedback that Tina has gotten for Brandless.

39:32 – Parallels to blockchain with respect to decentralization and democratization.

42:18 – The rapid fire questionnaire.

45:01 – Finding out more about Tina and Brandless.

Resources and Links Mentioned:


Steve Jobs

Apple ‘1984’ Super Bowl Ad

Brandless Tacking ‘Brand Tax’

Tina’s TEDx talk – Unlocking Joy

Tina on The Future of Consumerism at the Worlds Fair Nano

Feeding America



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