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Brand Authority With Walter Faulstroh — Season 1 Episode 2


21 Apr 2020 • 25 min read • The loomly team

Brand Authority With Walter Faulstroh — Season 1 Episode 2

Walter Faulstroh, the co-founder, CEO, and top innovator of HUM Nutrition, joins us this month to talk about brand authority — how brands establish trust and authority by educating their customers. HUM Nutrition is a skincare and wellness company that focuses on beauty from the inside out with vitamins and superfoods. Before HUM Nutrition, Walter launched the UK’s first vitamin enhanced water, acquired by PepsiCo International, and the UK’s first full service low-cost gym chain.

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Podcast Transcript

Julie: Welcome to The Brand Moat, the podcast where each month we bring you inspirational stories from global brand leaders who share how to build your brand and future proof your business. I’m Julie Slater. I start every episode with big ideas and wrap up each show with key insights so you can focus on taking action and in case you’re wondering why do we call this show the brand moat? Well, just like a castle, your moat protects you from outsiders and the competition. When the idea is applied to your company, it helps you maintain your competitive advantage. Your moat may be a feature, some tech magic or marketing secret sauce, but we think your strongest moat is your brand. This podcast is all about that. This month my guest is Walter Faulstroh, the co founder, CEO and top innovator of Hum Nutrition, a skincare and wellness company that focuses on beauty from the inside out with vitamins and super foods.

I’m going to ask Walter about brand authority, how brands establish trust and authority by educating their customers. Walter’s journey to founding Hum, started with his own struggle to control his acne. With the help of a nutritionist, he got his skin under control. It was the aha moment that led him to see how powerful nutrition was before HUM nutrition. Walter launched the UK, his first vitamin enhanced water acquired by PepsiCo international and the UK ‘s first full service, low -cost gym chain. Originally a direct to consumer company in 2014. Hum partnered with Sephora. Here’s my conversation with Walter Faulstroh. Walter, welcome to the show.

Walter: Thanks for having me.

Julie: Well thank you for being here. One of the things I saw, and it might be self-proclaimed on the website that you are a serial entrepreneur and innovator. I thought that was awesome, but seriously, you’ve done a lot. Could you just walk me through, so you’ve had three big kinds of products.

Walter: The first one called Viva water, uh, there was the first vitamin water based in the UK, um, which we launched in 2004 and sold to Pepsi in 2008. The second company was called Fit for Free, which was a low cost gym chain that brought gym membership to people who couldn’t previously afford it. So these were like 995 memberships actually really, really good equipment and great sites. So that was something I really, really enjoyed. And the third company I just started, or a few years ago actually not just in 2012 it’s called Hum nutrition, which is a personalized vitamin service where the focus is on skin health, mood health and body health.

Julie: So you really are a serial entrepreneur.

Walter: It sounds quite serious, doesn’t it?

Julie: Do you take yourself seriously?

Walter: Um, try not to.

Julie: Like what keeps you going and, and being innovative yourself?

Walter: What really keeps me going is when I hear from consumers and when I hear stories that really changed their life and that’s really keeps me going. So for example, the other day we had somebody writing in who struggled like me her entire life with acne and didn’t think there was a solution for her. And then she discovered Hum, we helped her change her diet through advice we gave her plus paired her with vitamins and supplements everyday would be good for her skin. And that really moved the needle. And that’s something that we’ve heard from her. And she was like saying, listen, I thought I’m going to be an ugly ducking for my, for my entire life and I just want to say I’m sharing some, you know, tears of joy with you right now as I’m writing this letter. And it really touched me. And getting those letters really, really motivates me to keep on going and connect with more consumers and build the community.

Julie: So we are talking in this podcast about brand authority, the vitamin industry can be overwhelming to a lot of people.

Walter: Completely. And like what happened to me was like, it was really my personal story as a consumer first that then turned into that business. I mean, I never thought about starting Hum until it happened to me. Really. I struggled with adult acne for many, many years. I was on a strong prescription drug three times. And you know, if you’re a woman you can’t get pregnant, et cetera. So it’s a serious treatment and quite frankly, it did work temporarily, but it didn’t really last. So each time, like say six to 12 months after stopping the drug, my breakouts would come back. And quite frankly, it’s not just about physical appearance, it’s like also quite emotionally scarring. And sure, pure luck. I met a nutritionist in the UK who helped me figure out my skin through changes in my diet and supplementation.

Walter: I was like, wow, I’ve seen these great changes, but doing something really good for my body actually. So I feel so better about myself, but I could also see it in my skin. I was like, maybe there’s other people out there like me who would benefit from that kind of service.

So I started HUM first by building a platform where I connected consumers with nutritionist and provided free advice. But then also because it’s so hard to find a supplement that you’d like in terms of the formulation, the clinicals behind it, the quality of the ingredients, et cetera. We decided to formulate ourselves and build the brand around a promise of delivering clean, clinical, proven nutrients that help your skin, body and mood.

Julie: So what’s really great about, if you go to the HUM website, it’s

Walter: Correct.

Julie: You take a quiz of what some of your issues are, what you’re eating, maybe even some of it’s like your lifestyle or what you’re looking for and then in the end you end up with results of what kind of products you have, all different kinds of vitamins to help specific needs. So I think if people are listening that that’s really I think one of the great things because it’s not difficult to go on there and kind of figure out, Oh this might be the exact thing that I need. When you started HUM, at the time you combined tech science, but also a branding message and this, you know, prestigious beauty package. And would you say at the time no one else was doing that?

Walter: I looked at it as a consumer myself and I was thinking, first of all, vitamins are really confusing. They’re sold in very ugly packaging, which is either white, um, which it means healthy or black if it’s like male performance. And I just didn’t like that. I thought like, why are they so boring when intimidating. They’re very confusing in terms of the ingredients, what they do for you, et cetera. So we wanted to change not only how we formulate and how we source the product, but also how we present to the consumer make it much easier to navigate, make it much more interesting to look at. And thereby consumers remember taking the product, cause a lot of consumers bought vitamins prior to harm, but they would forget taking them because they were so ugly the bottles that people would be hiding them in the cupboard somewhere in the kitchen.

Julie: Right.

Walter: And we thought like, why didn’t we want to make the bottle presentable?

It doesn’t mean just because it’s a healthy product that it has to look boring or ugly. And I think we changed the industry quite a bit. I would think we’re the first company to ever really introduce a lot of color into branding.

Julie: And also a beauty aspect because you kind of, correct. Yeah. Do a lot of, you know, with how your skin looks and —

Walter: Yeah, like we wanted to focus on like, because my personal story was around skin health. So we do want it to focus an area that we felt very comfortable in.

Julie: I really do love the packaging because it is, it’s very sharp and colorful but yet simple. And some of the, um, I wrote down some of the, Oh, the moody bird is one of the bottles that helps if you have PMs issues. Another great one wing man, I mean it’s very creative, but wing man helps with your liver and also digestive. So I thought that was –

Walter: Yeah, we have a digestive enzyme called Flatter Me. So it’s like a double entrendre Well meaning like, you know, obviously getting a compliment but also like a flatter stomach. So we were quite playful with our names, but then quite serious with our formulations.

Julie: And I would imagine that could be something that you could say ended up helping you with being successful. Not only being informative but simple with being able to understand the product. But then also this creative tone who came out, like who decided to have all these creative names and were you a part of that?

Walter: And I pretty much named 90% of them. So now I’m, the team has grown a little bit, but like the first 30 an named myself and now we have about 45 products. So the last five I got help from my team.

Julie: Now when you first came out with this idea, did you have trouble because it was kind of a new idea, did you have trouble getting funding? Like how was the response from people to help you?

Walter: You know, because of the reasons you mentioned before that the supplement space is very crowded and you don’t know which brand to trust. It takes time to build credibility with a consumer, with the investors, et cetera. So it took us time to get funding and, and to get the brand off the ground. I mean the, to be honest, we started direct to consumer first and I thought we will have a fabulous website. We’ll offer free nutritionist advice and the quiz that really helps another get the products and then you think, wow, where’s all this traffic? So week one, you know one order comes in, you get very excited when the order did come in to ship that out.

Walter: But it was quiet. And I would say once you have built a reputation with the consumers, then it’s easier to attract funding and build the brand on a larger scale. But that takes time. I would say couple of years.

Julie: And what was your next step? As soon as you notice the traffic was slow, then what’s your next idea?

Walter: There were moments where I was thinking, well, is this ever going to take off at all to be honest. But then suddenly we got some traction. People seeing those results, recommending the product to their friends and family members. And like a little snowball, I wouldn’t say like a massive avalanche started was what little snowball.

And suddenly we saw traffic to the site and then suddenly people got interested and retailers became interested in the brand as well. So suddenly the whole dynamic for the business changed. But it did take time to build that very first reputation and we had to be on the market for a year or two to really, you know, set the groundwork.

Julie: And I would imagine with anybody who’s running a company listening, I mean it takes a lot of patience. What about comparing this company with your other two? Um, it was all slower, faster same?

Walter: Well, I would always say it always takes twice as much time and money to do whatever you want to do. That’s roughly my rule of thumb. When I think about a project. I mean I’m, I’m quite optimistic because if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have started three companies I believe. But things do take time. So you have to be patient, but at the same time, if it’s not the right business, you have to course correct and sometimes let go over to.

Julie: Right. And that’s a tough decision to make. So now I feel like you’ve really streamlined making your product easy for the consumer to understand. But was that difficult in the beginning?

Walter: No, that was quite natural because I always looked at it from a consumer angle. So I never looked at us as a business. It wasn’t about like selling more vitamins. It was really about solving a problem for the consumer and by putting the consumer first with a product that’s easily understandable. Plus I’m formulated with great ingredients that helped us be very focused on naming formulations, packaging, et cetera. So that was actually fairly straightforward. I think it’s just building the reputation that took a bit more time.

Julie: You’ve said that empowering the consumer through education is the key to your success.

Walter: Our mantra, it’s like if you can eat it, don’t take a pill for it. I mean that’s the first thing I always take people less take less vitamins because you know if your diet is great and that’s how we ask in the quiz as well, how’s your diet? Do you eat enough vegetables and fruit? Because it’s very important for them to understand rather than supplementing deficiencies, compliment what you already have and look for nutrients that are hard to come by in a normal diet. And that’s really the focus of the business. I’d rather have a longterm relationship with each consumer than a soft like short term relationship where we sell them lots of products and then they disappear. We really want to guide them throughout the process. And that starts with education, which is why we offer a free nutritionist through our website. After you take the quiz and we’ll pair you with nutritionist and you can reach out to your nutritionist and ask any questions to guide you through that process.

Julie: And how long have you had the nutritionists on staff.

Walter: From day one. My first employee was an educator, so from day one we worked with like nutritionists and that that’s has always been the mantra of the business. Like education has been at the foundation of the business because I feel like it’s very important to educate the consumer and empower them with the right knowledge to make the right choices. It’s not about selling, it’s pretty broad, like empowering the individual.

Julie: Would you ever say, Oh sorry, we can’t help you, you know, is there, is there anyone that couldn’t be helped by a product, I guess is what I’m asking. And would you say,

Walter: I’m sure there are plenty of people, I mean like some concerns or like maybe there’s unrealistic expectations as well that consumers may have these things take time. And I think again like those consumers that have um, you know, are looking for a silver bullet, we may not be the right business for them, but those who really want to invest in their body and try to understand their body and build a better relationship with their body and health, those are the right consumers for Hum. And you know, those are the ones we want to talk to.

Julie: Now if they connect with a nutritionist, is the nutritionist then to also talking about their diet and all?

Walter: Yeah, that’s why we asked it. They have the information, right? Like you know what the diet looks like. That’s where we have the quizzes as a starting point. And it’s important to note that our nutritionists are registered dietitians, so they are the ones that the most highly trained nutritionists in United States and the most informed, they really understand the complexities of the body and nutrition.

Julie: And you’ve also been at the forefront of the company on social media and all of that. How did you decide that you would be a big focus?

Walter: Well, again it was about education. It was really about like how can we bring the message to the consumer and had like each channel has a different um, way of talking to consumers. For example, we are very successful on YouTube. We have our own lock, which has over like a million subscribers. We have our Instagram channel, et cetera.

And like, I think it’s a question of delivering the content in the right formats to the consumer.

So for example, on Instagram, people don’t want to go into maybe too much detail, but get some sort of like high level inspiration on, you know, how to take certain supplements and how to pair them, et cetera. On our website, there’s a blog called The W`ellness, which has, I don’t even know how many articles we have for it. I mean, it’s like, it’s so full of it and so rich in content. Um, that was one of the very first things we did. We’d like build out a content piece to educate consumers again. And the mission of the blog is not to sell product. It’s really budge to educate about the health and wellness space. So we write about topics that are often not related to our products, just to make sure we are like in touch with our consumers, making sure we’re delivering them information that they’re thirsty for and to make sure that they can have Hum as a resource in their health and wellness journey.

Julie: Now are all of your social media posts on Instagram or if you do YouTube, are they all about your product? Do you, do you also post like entertaining things that might be somewhat related?

Walter: We have to keep people. We have, we have very cheap, we have very cheeky quotes. Um, I’ve, I don’t know if to see the accord yesterday, it was very successful, but I’ll read it out to you. Okay. All right. Whenever I feel down I just put my hands on my vagina for a minute, holding that much power. Always cheers me up.

Julie: That’s very nice. That person might need to take a lot of Moody Bird though.

Walter: We’re actually launching a new product tomorrow and that was, we really want to change the conversation around vaginal health. It was something we discovered that people even comfortable using the word vagina and a lot of our consumers are women and we really thought why is that confidence normalize the conversation. And then we realized it was like, you know, a huge amount of people suffering from UTIs during their lifetime and actually consumers reaching out to us say hate week ready for formulated a probiotic that could help here. And so we did and that’s launching tomorrow.

Julie: That’s awesome. Now you say mostly women. So then how are you finding ways, you know, why not get men into vitamins? Like how, how do you dig into that source that isn’t really coming to you?

Walter: Actually I always say vitamins don’t discriminate against gender despite being heavily present in prestige beauty, which is more of a female beauty channel. We have quite a strong male following and that’s actually growing. And so it’s definitely of interest to us because quite frankly, skin concerns, body concerns, whatever they are like beyond gender. And I also always wanting to build a brand that’s very inclusive and speaks to everyone. But when it comes to the solution, obviously they’re very targeted. So there may be solutions which are more suitable for men than for women, et cetera.

So we want to be very mindful of the audience and really include everyone and bring everyone along with us in the journey.

Julie: And as far as having brand authority, what advice would you give to someone starting a company? How to get, I guess to where you are with your brand authority.

Walter: Authority builds over time but you lose it overnight. Similar to reputation of a business. So I think it’s very important to do a lot of things that are right for the business over a long period of time and repeatedly doing them. You can’t just be one thing today, another thing tomorrow. And you have to really stick to your guns for some time and speak to your cause with conviction and knowledge. If you don’t do that, then you want builds authority. I think it’s very important. I mean, you have to think about a brand, like a person. It’s like somebody who is like perfectly polished and that comes across as robotic. It’s not really interesting. And I think every person has sort of like, um, different forces that make them interesting things you like about them, things you may dislike about them, but at least you know who they are as a person.

Walter: So I think it’s important to have that. And we have always been very mindful of like speaking positively to the consumer. So for example, when we started, HUM, one of the big frustrations I had with the vitamin industry was that vitamins were sold, like insurance policies almost. If you don’t take this, you will like lose your eyesight or brain in 20 years and forget about everything, et cetera. And I always felt like, why do you talk to your consumer like that? You’re scaring them.That’s just awful. In order to get results with vitamins and supplements. I mean, we really focus on like what, same with the botanical extracts and pro probiotics, et cetera. It takes time to get there, but you don’t keep repeating taking a product that scares you. It really doesn’t make any sense to me to see. We were very motivational and we really banned or negative language from our vocabulary and even the names of very positive and cheeky.

So we always like try to have a positive message. And I always say to people, be for something. Don’t be against something. So stand for things, you know, put your energy where you want to go as opposed to what you don’t want to go. So I think it’s very important to stay positive and like being optimistic.

And I think that speaks to the consumer who wants to have somebody negative in their life, quite frankly. So I think that’s important when it comes to the brand. Something that really speaks to your audience and speaks the truth. Like it comes from the heart and comes from the brain. I think that goes a long way.

Julie: I watched a video of you reading a letter from your team and it was pretty emotional and really it just showed that you have a really great environment at your company. How do you think you’ve done that and how, you know, how can you — I just feel like people listening really to have that at your workplace, to have people really believe in you and feel good about working? How do you do that?

Walter: I’m just like being really, really honest with everyone and like I treat everybody hopefully, you know, with the respect they deserve. I’m very mindful of the people. I quite frankly, it’s like, you know, I’m one of many, I can’t do this by myself and we’re a whole team and it’s nice to have, have people who share your vision and want to move the needle and connect consumers with great products and education. So I think stay true to yourself, but also be mindful of your shortcomings and work on them. So for example, um,

Julie: Do you have any shortcomings?

Walter: Uh, I do yeah, plenty of course. Yeah. Um, yeah, no, like, like, you know, patience is probably not the virtue. that I have in me and I have hired a coach before to work with and nowI’ve hired, like for second time I hired a coach to work with me on certain things and I think that’s really productive and like question yourself, stay humble, stay nimble and create a pleasant work environment.

Walter: I think like inspire people around you. Be truthful. I think, you know, if you come from a good place, it’s hard to have an unpleasant environment.

Julie: You were saying that HUM your brand, anyone’s brand is really like a person. Would you say that harm has any flaws? Does Hum have any flaws? Because people have flaws, right?

Walter: Because of course, no, you’re right. You know, maybe to some people, the brand is too entertaining this like maybe they think why, why, why are you not taking a health message more seriously? Cause we do like to keep it sort of like lighthearted. Everything is based on science, but it doesn’t mean we have to make it sound heavy and boring, et cetera. So maybe that would be a criticism that people would have to the brand. Like, you know, can you really be fun and scientific at the same time?

Walter: I think you can, but some people don’t like that contradiction because we have the stereotype in us like a science professor. You don’t think it’s somebody joyful. Do you somebody who spends the day in a lab.

Julie: Wearing a purple jacket?

Walter: Yeah, I, I think that that’s sort of like almost is playing against people’s stereotype.

Julie: It also is a way that you stand out.

Walter: And it pretty much reflects like the personality that we have in the brand. I mean I think I’m, I’m quite similar. I love reading clinical research, but at the same time I love having a good time. I think we play against people’s stereotypes. We want to do that more and more as well. So for example, another thing is like the colors we use, right? The products are very colorful and my favorite color is pink and people are like, Ooh, that’s a very female color.

I don’t think so. It’s just a beautiful color, right? Like who invented that? Maybe some sort of like doll company some time ago. Like blue is for boys and pink is for girls. And quite frankly, no it’s not. It’s just a beautiful color and it’s, it’s very exciting. It’s energetic, it tells you stories just being used to certain contexts. So maybe people think we’re too colorful, um, as well that may not speak to them. But again, that’s us and um, I hope people love it.

Julie: What vitamins do you take?

Walter: I take daily cleanse, which is like our number one seller. A probiotic called gut instinct and the fish oil OMG. And what I like about the fish oil, it’s very pure, but also even if an aftertaste against something you have to think through. Like when you have like a great ingredient, you have to formulate in a certain way to really like, you know, people are complaining, okay, if I take a fish oil, I don’t like the aftertaste. So we worked on that very, very thoroughly to avoid sort of that repeating when you, you know, that fishy off the test sometimes get with a fish oil.

Julie: And I would imagine, obviously you have to keep up with this could be with any company, but especially when you have a product that people are taking internally, you have to keep up with research. What is the latest, I guess the latest, newest vitamin that you’re looking into or just came out or has caused, you know, maybe like, wow, this is a new thing that we have to look into.

Walter: So we’re really like interested in the microbiome, which is your GI, you know flora basically. So like you have inside you, you have like like billions of organisms living and it’s, it’s really fascinating. It’s like almost like a whole world that we are not aware of. It’s little, you know, a microcosm of good things and bad things. So the microbiome is really powerful and it’s linked not only to, you know, digestive health but also to skin health, which is why we launched a probiotic, especially for skin about a year ago. We’re launching another probiotic tomorrow, which is for vaginal health. And then we have a general probiotic to really cover the basics. So really fascinated by that. I am very interested as well of what’s called the gut brain axis, meaning probiotics to help with mood and brain concerns. That’s something I find fascinating and I think that’s where it’s all going in the future. The mind is definitely, it’s something on people’s agenda. We see depression going up sadly well people are very stressed. There are many reasons for that. Number one, I would say we are bombarded with information that we can’t make sense off.

Walter: Um, number two, we’re too much on the phones and three we have less of a social life really that sort of keeps us grounded and sane and I think that doesn’t help mental health overall. So that’s an area that I’m really interested in and I believe has like a strong, strong potential, pretty interesting. And the microbiome can play a role here.

Julie: And the one thing we are finding out on the Brand Moat, of course everyone we speak with, it’s just a really having a huge passion for what you’re doing. You know, if you start a company, I mean you’re just so passionate and interested in it. I.

Walter: love it. I really do. And that it doesn’t feel like work to me. And you know, if I wanted to make just the money, I would have done something else. Probably maybe I would have worked in finance on focused on that to just be really focused on money, but to me was always important to start a company that improves people’s wellbeing. So all three companies I started where within that space, I just find that interesting, um, to do something that has a positive impact on others. And that, as I said in the beginning of the interview, it was very much like, to me the best moments are these letters from consumers that tell you, listen, this really helped. Um, I feel so much better about myself, but not only do I feel better with myself, but I will say I’m attracting better things into my life because suddenly you feel good about yourself so you’re more confident, you’re bringing better things into your life. And I think like having that sort of like positivity fulfill itself and, and spreading it, I feel very proud of that. I must say to date, we have connected over a million people where they all nutritionists give lots of advice for free.

Walter: And that’s just amazing if you think about it. And that it wouldn’t have been possible before without technology. But having this combination of like technology, but yet human interaction I think is very powerful.

Julie: And what do you think of all your social media? What with all of your content, what type has been most successful? Either as the most favorite or as the most trusted,

Walter: Most trusted? Um, hard to tell. But I would say people love to hear experiences. So for example, trying a product for 21 days, how does that feel? Like that’s definitely one area. But when it comes to content, it’s not just about like taking the HUM product for 21 days. Like challenges for example, doing 10,000 steps a day. How has that for 21 days, what’s that experience like or excluding certain nutrients from your diet? For 21 days I was doing Keto, which is a trending diet. Um, so these are the kinds of things that people, or no sugar like just no sugar for 21 days. People want to hear about that and a lot of our content isn’t about the product.

It’s really about like things that like people talk about and want to experience and have a trusted source that they can follow so they don’t have to do 21 days of waste their time unless it’s really something that can help them.

Julie: This podcast is called The Brand Moat and it’s kind of, you know, defending your brand against others. Do you that you have to do a strong defending?

Walter: Well, from day one we were in an incredibly crowded market. I think when we launched HUM there were like 1500 vitamin brands or 1600 I mean it’s probably one of the most, one of the most fragmented markets on the planet, which is great for the consumer because they have a choice. So having started with a lot of competition, sure. This a lot of like I would say companies trying to copy our approach, but our process has been so well thought through and there’s so many components to it. From the education to the formulation, to the clinical research, to the content, to the brand experience, to the retail partners. I think it can, I think it’s hard to emulate, but we, we, we see every day a brand that looks like HUM or feels like HUM or makes promises like HUM appear and that’s just part of the process.

Julie: And how much, if you see a brand that’s similar to yours, how much do you concern yourself with that? Do you,

Walter: it’s almost, it’s, it’s interesting like, like imagine how can I put this to, you know, imagine you’re dating someone and then somebody says, Oh, they’re cheating on you the first day. You’re like, Oh, the first time you’re shocked. Like when you hear it like 20 times, you’re like, okay, fine. I know that this is just the way it is basically. But it’s like maybe a strange comparison, but you really get used to this idea of like being.

Julie: Cheated on. All brands get cheated on.

Walter: I would say.

So maybe it’s the wrong comparison, but I think it’s just a question of like the first time you hear it, it’s obviously unpleasant when you see somebody using a very similar look. But then I’m thinking, okay, we mean we must be doing something right that they copy us to that point. So it’s, it’s a form of flattery I suppose. And the only way to deal with it is by staying innovative, stay close to your consumer, listen to what they have to say to you and formula and develop products for them.

Walter: And then that’s what we do. We really use a driven and because we have so many insights into what their concerns are, we can really stay ahead of the competition here.

Julie: And do you copy other companies, brands that you feel?

Walter: I tend to be inspired by companies outside of our industry. Um, so, uh, you know, especially when we started home like, man Spiration wasn’t within vitamins cause I thought everything was wrong with vitamins. Literally everything. There was not a single thing that was right with them, so I was inspired by content in certain beauty spaces. I thought that was very refreshing how the stories were told. I was inspired by packaging in luxury goods. I thought that was nicely done because it wasn’t complicated, but he had to feel, it felt very valuable. I was inspired by like German engineering for cars, like getting that detail right that inspires me and I was like, you know, bring that philosophy to all the components of what you’re doing and you may have a winner.

Julie: I feel like that’s really some great advice is not to just be honed in on your own brand or product is to really looking at products way outside of what you’re doing and and get the positives and negatives out of those things.

Walter: Yeah, so that that sort of inspires me. Like best-in-class is not within the industry best in the whole worlds and you don’t have to look for that.

Julie: Is there a direct relationship between providing education for consumers and brand authority? Like how was that expressed?

Walter: I would say especially in a space like vitamins and supplements and botanical extracts, nobody wakes up thinking, I need a supplement to improve my skin health. Especially when we started, there wasn’t really something that people thought about.

So I think the educational content is key for people to understand how the product works and how to be successful with a product and therefore it really helps to be, you know, authoritative as a brand when you provide good quality content.

But again, key here is not to sell. It’s really about true education because if you start selling um through content and education, that’s an entre really empowering. That’s just like selling products. So I think people have to really, I want to say this to entrepreneurs, if you have an educational and content strategy, it’s not about selling. It really isn’t. It’s about empowering the consumer and that’s how you build authority.

Julie: So I feel like what you’ve done with HUM is you simplify a very complicated industry without dumbing it down. And how do you feel? What was, how did you call about that?

Walter: Oh, quite simple. First to get every detail, right. So you really do your homework and like go into great detail. Then you write a high level summary of that and then you write the headline. So almost you don’t write the headline first, you do it the other way around and it will all follow naturally. So we have always this three tier approach. Um, when we produce content, which is like high level message, get the message across. But then for those consumers who are more educated, they have an ability to dive in deeper and get really educated about like something that may be quite complex. And if it’s really, really thorough, then we also share the science around it, et cetera. So I think it’s just a question of how you provide the content, but you start with the detail and then you come up with like the overall message.

Julie: So we’ve talked about brand authority. I’m wondering for people who are looking for advice, what is the simplest way to start to do that? Is it content, you know, is it education, you know, your involvement. What’s the best advice for brand authority?

Walter: I think it’s just like think about yourself and like how a brand would build authority with you. Again, to me it’s more about trust and authority. Authority sounds — is a word. I’m actually not a a huge fan of to be honest, and we never thought about building authority.

I was more about like building trust with the consumer and just think of yourself as the recipient of the message that you’re sending. And I think if you do that in a very mindful way, you will end up building a trusted brand.

Julie: Thanks for coming by to the Brand Moat.

Walter: Thanks for having me.

Julie: That’s our show. Hope you enjoyed it. Listen to us on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. This podcast is brought to you by Loomly, the brand success platform that helps your team collaborate, publish, and succeed all in one place. Check out and start your free trial now. Thanks for listening. I’m Julie Slater.

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