How TBô Is Reinventing Men’s Underwear with Co-Creation

TBô uses the power of co-creation

Comfortable underwear is one of the most overlooked garments in any wardrobe. I know I took it for granted until I met Roy Bernheim and Allan Perrottet, co-founders of TBô.

The name is short for “T’es Beau,” or “you are handsome” in French. But really the brand represents “The most comfortable everyday men’s underwear developed by you.” (And it is!)

TBô just launched its new website at tbo.clothing. Check it out!

When I started working with the TBô team I asked, “How can you confidently claim your underwear is more comfortable than the competition?”

Allan replied simply, “Co-creation. Thousands of men, just like you, shared their comments and insights. This empowered us to rapidly iterate and refine the underwear so that it’s comfortable, functional and looks great.”

“The difference,” Allan continued, “between TBô and a normal fashion brand is co-creation and inclusiveness. The fashion industry is patriarchal. The designer is perceived as the ‘expert.’ They don’t think consumers know what’s best for them, so they come up with a product and expect consumers to like it and appreciate it.”

TBô takes the opposite approach. The brand is driven on a model of co-creation. Allan and Roy call it “Direct by Consumer.” Customer ideation and feedback has led to a variety of product innovations:

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  • Simple tear away labels
  • Subtle brand imagery
  • Ultra comfortable, breathable bamboo fabric blends
  • “ManShaped Pouch”
  • Sustainable product in fabric, manufacturing, and packaging

With each iteration the product gets better: more comfortable; more functional; more stylish.

The funny thing — especially for companies with bold visions like TBô — is pulling the pieces together into a cohesive message, story, and brand strategy is harder than you think.

Roy explained, “From the very beginning we had the idea and concept of what we wanted, but we struggled to put it into easily understandable words. It would be evident and strong in some areas of the business, or at certain moments, but it was never consistently applied.”

After reading my book, Sticky Branding, the duo reached out to me. Roy said, “Help us achieve Simple Clarity.”

Simple Clarity is the ability to describe your brand and what makes it unique in 10 words or less. It’s the first principle of the book and the foundation of every strong brand.

I guided them through the Sticky Branding process. Each week we met to work on the business and brand to unpack, analyze, and put it back together in a clear brand strategy. One of the outcomes was the Simple Clarity statement, “The most comfortable everyday men’s underwear developed by you.”

The keyword is “everyday.”

The underwear sector is surprisingly competitive with much bigger companies all claiming to offer the best product for men. Some brands focus on sports and performance, for example underwear for running or cycling. Other brands offer specialty fabrics or over-marketed features that don’t offer any real benefit. But generally speaking, underwear brands have a lot of hype with not much substance.

Where TBô shined was in six areas:

  • Co-creation
  • Comfort
  • Sustainability
  • Tribe (community)
  • Simple by design
  • Repeat purchases (men come back again and again!)

Through thousands of surveys and feedback from their tribe, TBô has created underwear that you want to wear every single day.

Once we established the positioning, the next challenge was to draw out the personality and function of the brand at every touchpoint.

Roy explained, “Clarity helps you focus on what’s important.” This helped the team in several areas:

  • Product Packaging: One key message with three icons.
  • Customer Journey: What to convey in the first three emails of a relationship.
  • Terminology: What words to use and not use.
  • Achieve Consensus: Rapidly make decisions the team can all agree on.

Where TBô differed from other companies is their value and trust in their tribe. Before launching the new website, the team tested a set of icons with the community. The community rejected two icons:

  • Unicorn to illustrate “Bulge enhancing”: One survey respondent said, “I do not think a unicorn represents my penis.” The team replaced the icon with a more manly rhinoceros icon with the caption, “Makes the most of your inches.”
  • Panda to illustrate “Comfort”: A baby panda represented the comfort of TBô’s bamboo fabric with the caption, “softer than a baby panda’s belly button.” Again, it had a gag response. It wasn’t intuitive enough. The icon was replaced with a feather and the caption, “Comfy bamboo fabric. It’s like being hugged by a feather.”

Roy said, “The tribe is the brand. Allan and I are only here to ask questions and execute what the tribe wants. At every opportunity we lean into co-creation. We believe this is how all brands in the future will need to involve their tribe to stay relevant.”

TBô goes so far as to say their brand is “Direct by Consumer,” whereas other e-commerce companies are direct-to-consumer. It’s a subtle yet powerful difference in how the brand strategy permeates the culture and ethos of TBô.

But why is finding clarity so elusive? It’s something brands constantly struggle with.

Roy said, “We knew we needed clarity, but we never had taken the time to pull it together. We’d take a moment, work on it for a week or two, and then get sucked back into the daily business. We always kept hitting the same point, and we knew we needed outside help.”

“We worked with Sticky Branding to not only crystallize our Simple Clarity statement, but to make our entire brand and business cohesive in itself,” Roy continued. “In a very enjoyable way, Jeremy helped push us to think about our brand and business model in new ways, formulate concise statements and implement those within a matter of weeks.”

Roy said, “We achieved in a short amount of time, what we had been thinking of doing for over a year.”

You can see the first iteration of the brand strategy today. Check out the brand new TBô website.

Like all brands, TBô is “brand in progress.” The work doesn’t stop. There’s always room to innovate, learn and grow. But that is how the strongest brands grow.