Michael Williams

Michael Williams regards himself as an unlikely style blogger, and yet the site he founded, A Continuous Lean, quickly grew to become a popular men’s style destination, celebrating quality and a love of Americana. Williams has since expanded his portfolio to include a series of curated, pop-up markets around the world, as well as a marketing firm. Williams spoke about what it takes to build brands that stand the test of time.

“In 2019 brands can’t exist without a reason for being,” Williams said, underscoring that consumers no longer need more things, so it’s important for brands to have a point of view and offer authenticity.

Williams said he himself is often inspired by history, craft and tradition, but these are not the only elements that make great brands. He used Patagonia as an example of a company that is not only clear in its mission and point of view (that of sustainability), but has also inspired other brands to care more about the environment and to become more sustainable as well.

He also spoke about Drake’s, a brand that was founded in London in the Seventies but had a rebirth in 2010. It offers consumers a classic style, which together with quality craftsmanship creates an authentic representation of a lifestyle. “It’s not fake,” Williams said.

The final example Williams used of a company that he believes will stand the test of time is men’s wear brand Noah, which he described as doing a combination of what Patagonia and Drake’s do. Like Patagonia, it is a certified B Corp. that has pledged 1 percent of its sales for the planet, it champions social issues, and it is politically active for positive change.

Williams said that while having a unique concept is not the only thing that makes a brand great, it drives all other aspects of a business.

“Coming up with a concept that is either truly unique or solves a problem or creates a differentiation for the brand.…Once you have that concept and once consumers can identify that your brand is unique, then the marketing, the digital, the social marketing, everything you do around it has a purpose,” he said.