Brand Story Breakdown: Hiut Denim
How to grow a cult following with consistent and engaging storytelling
Hiut Denim Co. sells jeans, and only jeans. But that’s only part of their story.
We make jeans. That’s it. Do One Thing Well. — Hiut Denim Co.
They are reviving a town, redefining artisanship, and reimagining community. They’re also rewriting the rule book for business. Reading their website and newsletter is a masterclass in storytelling.
The Hiut Denim Co. Backstory
For 40 years, the town of Cardigan in Wales turned out 35,000 pairs of jeans a week. But in 2002, the factory closed when manufacturing was moved to the Far East. Four hundred people lost their jobs.
In 2012, David and Clare Hieatt decided to revive the town’s industry by launching Hiut Denim Co. and re-employing the workers who lost their jobs. Instead of churning out tens of thousands of a jeans a week though, they’d make to order and focus on quality over quantity.
But how to turn a profit, revive the town, and get 400 people back into work?
A little marketing magic was required.
Hiut Denim Co. and the Hero Brand Archetype
Hiut has a humble brand voice, but don’t be fooled. This is a strong, bold, Hero brand archetype. It’s clearly on a quest to rescue Cardigan, and the world, one pair of jeans at a time.
Hero brands are ambitious They get stuff done through sheer force of will. They are courageous (in this case, taking on globalisation) and the best at what they do. They’re also driven to improve the world through their business — whether they’re selling cars, computers or jeans.
The most brash hero brands are arrogant and aggressive. But not Hiut. It cultivates an air of bravery, determination, and unrelenting confidence. It has faith in us, the customer: that we’ll see there can be a slower and more thoughtful way to consume. And that we’ll be willing to pay for it.
Hiut’s focus is on people and perfection of product; but profit too. And why not? They’re on a quest to get every one of those 400 jobs back.
“Companies with a soul are so much more interesting than companies motivated purely by profit.” David Hieatt (The Office Group, 2020)
How Hiut mastered its brand in a competitive marketplace
It’s no mistake that Hiut has mastered its position in a competitive marketplace. Its founders are masters of business and marketing.
David Hieatt launched his marketing career at Saatchi and Saatchi. With wife Clare, he then founded the award-winning clothing label Howies. They had an astute understanding of their skateboarding/outdoor adventure audience. Slogan tees and quirky ad campaigns created a strong community and loyal fan base.
Community was at the heart of the couple’s next business endeavour — a global conference in a sheep shed in Wales. Do Lectures sounds bonkers but has become a renowned movement of thinkers, creatives, and action-takers. I dream of sitting in that sheep-shed one day and soaking up the wisdom.
I thought a brand could have a reason to exist over-and-above just selling something. I thought it could make you think as well as buy.” — David Hieatt
Now, with their latest brand, community is again at the heart of their work.
“We have the community of our customers, the community of our team, and the wider community of the town we’re supporting too. “ David Hieatt in The Office Group, 2020.
Building a wholistic brand strategy
There are plenty of jean brands out there.
But choosing Hiut jeans means choosing to stand for something bigger than yourself.
Buying Hiut makes you aligned to a brand that:
- says something meaningful, over having a loud voice;
- respects simplicity and purity, instead of complexity;
- values craftsmanship above churning out huge volumes of product;
- invests in people and planet, rather than blindly chasing profits.
Using storytelling to build a brand
David wrote the book on using words to create a community and build a brand. Literally. It’s called Do / Open / How a simple email newsletter can transform your business.
The book is a masterclass in how Hiut built the devoted following it has today through storytelling (that, plus Meghan Markle wore them).
Hiut’s brand backstory comes in three parts: Our town is making jeans again; Our Way; and Our Factory. The use of ‘our’ suggests warmth and open arms. I feel part of it.
The simplicity of the Hiut brand backstory belies its power. Just look at how this clever choice of words tells you exactly what the brand stands for.
And calling your jean makers ‘Grand Masters’? Genius. There’s so much respect and heritage in that label. Plus, I want what the best are making!
Do One Thing Well
That ‘one thing’ Hiut Denim Co. does well? It doesn’t exist. They do many things, brilliantly.
The revival of Cardigan.
But for me, Hiut Demin Co’s most outstanding ‘one thing’ is their storytelling.
Go check them out here: https://hiutdenim.co.uk/