Founded and based in Amsterdam, Qnoop is a sustainable sock label whose goal is to change the rules of the sock wear game. In this interview, we talk with the founder of QNOOP Dirk Vis, about the origin of the brand name, the mystery of the missing sock, and what’s his reference for a strong brand.
What is the story behind QNOOP?
QNOOP means “button” in dutch. The reason for this is that we design our socks with a button on one and a loop on the other sock. This way you can tie your socks together before throwing them in the washing machine and they will stay together. No more missing socks, no more wasting time matching socks.
When did you start thinking about your brand name and how did you settle on QNOOP?
When I started QNOOP I wanted to create a sock brand in the sweet spot of graphical design, the highest possible quality, and fair and sustainable production. However, I really wanted to add something to the game, not just play along with the existing rules of the game. And so I thought, what about if I could tackle the mystery of the missing sock. And so after some prototyping, I came to the solution of the button and loop. It made sense to keep the name close to what the brand is all about: QNOOP.
Do you have a domain strategy? What was the reasoning for building your brand on the domain QNOOP.com?
Well, the domain just followed our brand name. Of course, we have the .com, .nl and .eu and some other domains registered. Building from .com is based on the idea that I wanted to create an international brand. And that’s the case, we sell in stores in over 10 countries and ship worldwide from our online store.
When did you get your first customers, do you remember the moment? What would you do differently if you could go back in terms of marketing?
Yeah sure. When we launched someday 5 years ago late at night I remember watching the traffic on analytics until deep into the night. I sent out a newsletter to some friends and so some orders came in as well. But the real kick you get out of the first order you really cannot trace. “Do I know this guy? Do you? No, wow, that’s our first customer out of our inner circle.
Who is your target customer and how is your brand name helping in reaching them and communicating your values?
Our target customer is everybody that values sustainability, fair production, and quality. And of course, we have a set of aesthetic rules that are yet appealing (or not) to somebody. The button and loop story is really our conversation starter and so the name helps to start up this conversation.
How do you keep your brand consistent across different channels online and offline? Does your domain name play a role in that process?
We do that by sticking to our brand book, which we made. This book contains guidelines on how to use our logo, make posters, typography, etc. It really helps in staying consistent, as a steady base. But it’s a living document, of course, a brand evolves all the time and so do we!
What has been the toughest thing in the process of developing an eco-friendly fashion brand so far? How do you overcome it?
O wow, there are lots of boundaries when starting up an eco-friendly brand. When I started I really had to tie all the different parties together; finding a GOTS certified yarn supplier, finding a GOTS certified dying house, finding a manufacturer that could also do the hand-work on our socks, and which also lives by eco-friendly rules and fair pay. It was not an easy job, there are not many suppliers wanting to invest in difficult roads ahead. It’s all about “now”. Maybe Covid-19 changes that, a little.
What fashion brands are you currently following and why? What would you say is your reference for a strong brand?
A strong brand is a brand you’d recognize without the brand name on the product or label. A brand that has such a strong visualization of what they do and their tone of voice is so recognizable. A best friend you can describe exactly the same way; the way of talking, way of dressing, way of laughing, and telling jokes. A strong brand in a way is something like a friend; you stick to it because you love it.
I’m following many brands because it interests me how brands behave and expose themselves. So I follow from big to small, from eco to not. One of my favorites is Filippa K, great aesthetics combined with quality and sustainability. But I’m not just looking at fashion brands, check out Wikkelhouse.nl for example. A great brand, telling the story of sustainable housing.
What would you advise entrepreneurs on naming, branding, and online presence?
Follow your own compass. You know what you want to create. If it’s a compromise, you won’t feel it.
What is next for QNOOP?
Many plans, as always. We have added an essentials line which is booming and we are selling those in multi-packs now as well. Especially since lots of stores were closed in the last months we were focussing on improving our UX and storytelling online, and by doing so growing. And that works. We are happy to see that and also that it works well for our multi-channel strategy. Stores pick us up from our online exposure and want to sell our socks. And that’s exactly how we look at it.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade, we are always happy to hear from you.