How to Build an Algorithm-Beating D2C Brand


Just a few years ago, the social media D2C brand space felt like a utopia of millennial pink and minimalism, in which plucky new beauty brands, razor subscriptions and memory foam mattresses could flourish with little more than a shop link, 100-day trials and a few gushing, unverified reviews.

Now, it’s increasingly challenging to build a direct to consumer brand rigorous enough to withstand the choppy waters of social media-led D2C models, and long gone are the days when you could build a brand from scratch through social channels alone. Cost per conversion has spiraled, and social ads no longer offer predictable ROI.

Success is all about understanding trends, then ignoring them. Countless social-first D2C brands have started to both look and act the same: a homogeneous gloop of identikit products, sold with the same fonts, return policies and social strategies. No matter how great the product or the demand, copying another model and expecting the same results is a surefire route to failure. Great branding is the opposite of imitation: By merging into a singular sector look, brands are forgettable and become dated very quickly. 

There are four things brands can do to rise above unpredictable algorithmic fluctuations, stand out from the crowd and achieve real long-term success. 

Put the ‘media’ in social

The ways people buy have changed. The once-linear purchase funnel has collapsed, making consistent and compelling brand stories matter more than ever. Instead of seeing a direct equation in which Brand + Ads = Customers, brands today need to think like a media company that creates engaging, useful content that speaks to audiences in meaningful ways. 

Smart brands also use content to show off their products’ capabilities while seamlessly engaging both existing audiences and those they’re hoping to target. Take camera brand Canon, for instance. As outlined in a recent best practices guide, Canon showed off its EOS R5 and R6 cameras by using them for the products’ livestreamed launch event and Q&A. These were then hosted on both Canon’s site and YouTube for 10 days after launch, where they continued to attract viewers and drive product demand—so much so that the web store ran out of stock within hours. 

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