Creating a magnetic e-commerce brand
Greco Gum is a testament to the power of bold positioning, effective messaging, and using social media to build a loyal following.
I helped shape and launch an e-commerce brand that successfully differentiated itself in spite of selling a commodity product. Within months, Greco Gum had already amassed a cult following of raving fans.
Logan (Greco Gum’s founder) and I started working together when the business was still just an idea. For natural reasons, Logan’s budget was limited. That made this project a perfect fit for my Launch Pad service.
I helped Logan make his idea a reality, with all that entailed: brand strategy, ready-to-use messaging, visual identity design, packaging design, as well as e-commerce web design.
- Remote workshops
- Defined positioning & value proposition
- Decided on look & feel of brand
- Outlined marketing strategy
- Messaging devices & recurring talking points
- Created logo for digital & packaging
- Colors, typography, custom iconography
- Built basic e-commerce website
- Consulted on materials & form factor
- Designed packaging & consulted on copy
- Helped evaluate samples for color matching
- Inventory consistently sells out in hours
- Huge pre-order list & email opt-ins
- High social media engagement
- Large amount of word-of-mouth & unsolicited shout-outs
What the hell is mastic gum?
If you’re like most people, you probably hadn’t heard of mastic gum until reading about it here. Mastic gum is a chewable resin derived from the mastic tree, which grows on the Greek island of Chios.
It’s been used in Mediterranean cultures for millennia—primarily as chewing gum, but also as an ingredient in cooking and even cosmetic products.
The gum has a host of proven medicinal benefits: it will improve your oral health, your gut health, treat stomach ulcers, and reduce stress. It is also difficult to chew, which makes it an ideal product for people who want to work out their jaw muscles.
A big piece of the puzzle for us was figuring out the best way to frame the product in a way that would set it apart, both from other mastic gum sellers and also from indirect competitors who sell synthetic jaw exercise tools.
Differentiating a commodity product
Mastic gum is a commodity, much like normal gum, or vitamin supplements, or any other similar consumable product.
We knew from the start that Greco Gum would not be the cheapest product on the market. That was the impetus for this project in the first place: to build a brand strong enough that it could command a premium price tag—and still beat out cheaper competitors.
Greco Gum sells the highest-quality mastic gum available on the market. Being able to back up the premium positioning of the brand with real, noticeable quality was key—but we still had to get people to try the product in the first place.
So we needed to create a brand that was meaningfully differentiated from the commodity sellers.
By creating a brand for a clearly defined audience: a micro-niche consisting of a group of bodybuilders and self-improvement enthusiasts immersed in online culture, and then engaging with that audience, we were quickly able to establish Greco Gum as a brand to pay attention to.
By centering the brand around membership in this community, we showed that we had skin in the game. That built the trust and likeability we needed in order to get people to try the product—and once they bought it, they were sold.
2,000 B.C. in 2021 A.D.
Logan and I agreed from the start that we wanted Greco Gum to be a champion of ancient Greek values: pursuit of excellence and pursuit of beauty. This was the perfect bridge between mastic gum and our target audience.
Greco Gum’s visual identity connects it to ancient Greek culture without falling into the trap of looking anachronistic or kitsch, as so many “ethnic” brands do.
The color scheme balances the cool softness conventionally associated with Mediterranean culture (blue and off-white) with the martial intensity of red- and black-figure pottery.
The logo mark is inspired by the Herculean Vergina Sun and other motifs that you might find on shields and armor represented in ancient Greek art, but with a modern twist.
Greco Gum rejects the 2020s marketing dogma of “representation.” Instead, it’s unabashedly aspirational and elitist, harkening back to the advertising practices of 1980s and 1990s Ralph Lauren as well as the photography work of Bruce Weber.
The models we use in our marketing are handsome: they either look like Greco-Roman sculptures, or they literally are Greco-Roman sculptures. The goal is to portray an idealized version of man—an ideal worth aspiring towards.
The messaging includes provocative one-liners such as “Normalize Handsomeness”—an emphatic dismissal of a plebeian culture which hails androgyny, obesity, and non-conformity with traditional beauty standards as virtues.
They have to be joking, right…?
While Greco Gum’s embrace of beauty, excellence, and masculinity is earnest, the brand never takes itself too seriously.
Everywhere in the messaging and the visuals, you will find references to the post-ironic online subculture to which Greco Gum belongs—clues letting members of their target audience know they’re in on the joke.
You see this not least in the gruesome images of hippos attacking crocodiles, or lions shredding zebras to pieces—always accompanied by over-the-top messaging: “Train everything, chew through anything.”
The devil is in the details
When it comes to branding, the devil is in the details. As Greco Gum is a premium brand, we had to make sure all touchpoints would reinforce that image.
We built a simple e-commerce website using Webflow, with the intention to re-visit the design at a later date once the concept had proven itself out.
Most mastic gum sellers ship their product in cheap paper bags. Not only is this an underwhelming aesthetic experience for customers—it’s also impractical.
We opted for a tin container instead. It feels more luxurious, and it’s far more convenient for customers, who can easily carry the gum with them when they go out. Logan tells me he’s received many compliments on how nice the packaging is.
Far beyond expectations
The launch of Greco Gum was extremely successful. In the months since, they’ve sold out every single one of their batches—often within hours of announcing them.
In an equally short span of time, the brand has attracted over a thousand highly engaged Twitter followers—without using any spammy “growth hacks.”
Their devoted social media following has done wonders for word-of-mouth growth, and the brand regularly gets enthusiastic mentions from happy customers—all completely unsolicited.
Are we the perfect fit?
If you want to work with a creative who knows what he’s doing and always dots his i’s and crosses his t’s, you’ve found your guy.
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