Toms Shoes: Philanthropy as Branding

We’ve referred to branding as the identity of your business and detailed how essential it is to be unique and bold when presenting yourself to the world. So, let’s take a look at Toms, an awesome shoe company that made a name for itself by establishing a culture of giving and charity.

The Story:

Toms was founded back 2006 by Blake Mycoskie. After witnessing the hardship of Argentinean children who were growing up shoe-less, Blake was compelled to make a difference. This motivation drove him to start a for-profit, but charitable, business; a shoe company with mission.  His plan was simple, for every pair of shoes sold, he would donate a pair to a child in need. One for One.  Eventually Toms branched out to eye-wear, continuing this One for One business model, and donating a pair of glasses for every pair sold.

But what does this tell us about branding?

First, that branding isn’t always about a catchy slogan or a cool commercial (although those things certainly help!). It’s also about company culture and, again, identity. Nike may have a top notch marketing department, but Toms is still making enough to dontate 14 million pairs of shoes and 115,000 pairs of glasses in 2016 alone. Toms is built on a powerful message, one that makes people want to get involved, but more importantly, one that is personal and unique to the founder. Toms is a story of a company founded and branded of Blake’s desire to make change. That’s the kind of brand story we can get behind.

Second, branding doesn’t have to be manufactured. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Branding is a way you to communicate your identity to your people, to get them involved and invested. Make it real and make it personal. Toms serves as an example of how a genuine message can inspire change, and be quite profitable as well. And while plenty of companies practice regularly philanthropy, Tom’s found a way to weave it into their core branding. Toms kept it focused on the story of Blake and his adventure, which began with a life changing trip to Argentina.

Epic Made is all about finding the best way to hone in on a unique and compelling story, then telling it to the world in the boldest way possible. Toms is a perfect example of that methodology bearing fruit.