Purple. The mattress company bold enough (and cool enough) to name their company after a color. This company that launched in 2016 made $50 million in revenue in their first year. Purple, we see you.
Terry and Tony Pearce, two brothers from Utah, got the idea for Purple while fly fishing in the Rockies. No, really – that’s the story. “I think our best ideas come when we’re not focusing too hard on them. Ideas need to come naturally,” Terry told us.
And Purple wasn’t the pair’s first good idea
Terry and Tony’s backgrounds aren’t rooted in the mattress industry, in fact, they are far from it. Tony specialized in advanced aerospace materials (say what?) and Terry came from a manufacturing, design and project management background. In 1989, they decided to put their skill sets together and become business partners. The brothers went on to become “cushioning experts”of sorts.
Their partnership started in 1993 with the invention of a material called Floam™, which is used in wheelchair cushioning, medical beds, shoes, straps and all sorts of other products. Three years later, the Pearce brothers invented their famous Hyper-Elastic Polymer®, the material used in the Purple mattress today.
However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Pearce brothers decided Hyper-Elastic Polymer® would be the game-changing ingredient needed to make the perfect mattresses – thanks to it’s pressure relieving capabilities.
Enter the Purple mattress
Today, you might associate the Purple mattress with that charming, yet quirky Goldilocks character who tells you about the qualities of the mattress or that guy in the purple jumpsuit who runs tests with Sasquatch in a science lab. But the beginning of the brand was plain and simple as Terry remembers it:
“It all started with the technology. We created [the Purple mattress] to help people and provide them with comfort. We didn’t create it to be super flashy.
It all started with technology. We created [the Purple mattress] to help people and provide them with comfort. We didn’t create it to be super flashy.
We were able to really focus on the function of the technology for a long time so by the end of it we came up with a great product. Then the marketing team came in and really made it cool. That’s what happens when you get a bunch of talented people together and trust them to do their thing.”
Speaking of the marketing team…
Purple has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, brand voices in the category. The best part? Tony’s daughter Andie, who was about 25 at the time of Purple’s launch, came up with it herself with no previous marketing experience.
Mattress Advisor had the privilege of speaking with Purple’s Director of Communications, Savannah Turk, who has worked alongside Andie to create and implement the Purple brand across the company since its kickstarter days.
Building the Purple brand
The Purple brand started with two women in their twenties who understood the internet and their customer.
Andie came from an entrepreneurial family with a lot of experience in business. She had worked with family members at the previous companies, so she had a real sense of the industry.
But how do you take a technical, high-level product and get consumers to relate to it? While Tony and Terry were expert engineers, Andie became an expert on how to explain it to people.
“She wrote all the copy and the descriptions (of the product) in her own organic voice,” Savannah told us. “It worked really well, resonated with people, and the founders really liked it. The marketing team really liked it too, and so we kept it.”
Savannah, on the other hand, came from a background in marketing.
“I read a lot of the stuff [Andie] put together and was also a young woman who had that millennial voice, so I was able to take it and run with it myself,” Savannah told us.
“Purplify” everything — adding color to a colorless industry
Purple has truly taken their brand name to heart by adding color to everything they do.
“We have noticed that our own industry is filled with all these other bed-in-a-box companies focused on being super ‘sleepy’ all the time. Crisp and clean (like a hospital), very white,” Savannah explains.
We have noticed that our own industry is filled with all these other bed-in-a-box companies focused on being super ‘sleepy’ all the time.
In other words…boring.
“We decided to focus on what happens when you get more sleep. You have more energy, you want to be more active and go hang out with your friends. You are more colorful and fun. We focus on the things you get from good sleep,” Savannah explains. It’s through that lens that Purple tells their story.
We decided to focus on what happens when you get more sleep. You are more colorful and fun.
One of the ways this comes to life is through their iconic brand characters, including, Goldilocks, The Sleep Scientist, Sasquatch and the Sumo Wrestlers. Savannah gave us a deeper look into the characters that represent the Purple brand:
“The brand characters are a way to tell a story. As we expanded, we wanted to do something that would get people’s attention and demonstrate the benefits of the product in unique way. They were metaphors that ended up being entertaining so we continued to do it.
The brand characters are a way to tell a story… we wanted to do something that would get people’s attention.
Goldilocks was an easy choice to talk about how to choose a mattress. Sasquatch, used for the mattress protectors, came from the idea that if the mattress protector can stand up to sasquatch, it can stand up to whatever you do to it.
The sumo wrestlers (used for Purple’s bed platforms) come from the idea that if sumo wrestlers can climb on it, it’s strong enough to support you while you sleep.
I sometimes wonder how much of this was a conscientious decision on our part. But we are avid testers and learners – so everything we do is a test – we go back and look at what works and tweak what didn’t.”
Clearly, the brand characters were a hit. Purple’s YouTube channel has almost half a BILLION views! They must be doing something right.
The art of marrying science and humor
There is one thing Purple has undoubtedly mastered – taking something as commonplace as a mattress and making it entertaining to learn about.
“Science and humor are two things very important to us,” Savannah told us.
“We have a very technical product due to our proprietary technology, which is our differentiator. So it’s important for us to talk very technically and scientifically about our bed and how it gives you better sleep. But we don’t want to be boring or ‘sleepy,’” Savannah explains.
That’s where the humor comes in.
“We know that people react to story and emotion. The emotion we landed on was humor. Humor is not the right emotion for everyone, but it worked for us.”
“Not every joke we make is a winner. But we have an extensive internal process we use to come up with our final products. Testing and learning always bring us back to the drawing board,” Savannah said.
“We still operate much like a startup even though we now have almost 1,000 employees. Working in that bootstrap kind of way allows me to have a great relationship with the CMO and CEO so we get real-time feedback which helps us move and correct really quickly.”
How to get 1,000 employees to latch on to a brand
So how do you get a team of 1,000 to get behind Goldilocks and Sasquatch? Savannah gave us a peek into how they took the “organic voice of a brilliant 20-year-old” and made it the standard across all platforms of communication at Purple.
“When the brand needed to expand outside the two of us, we worked really hard to create materials for other employees. We have a brand guide we give to all the customer service reps when they come on and train them on how to be the brand through email or on the phone. We work to untrain the typical customer service voice that’s very robotic and formal and give people license to be more themselves and add their own personality to it.”
Savannah shared that hiring people who are cultural fit is one of the most important pieces of growing the Purple team.
“We are growing quickly and filling spots fast, but we try really hard to find people who naturally have that voice. Then we can work on pulling it out of them.”
What’s in a name?
As you may have seen, there are some interesting brand names in the mattress industry. We asked Terry where the inspiration for the name Purple came from.
“Purple is a great color. We decided to make the technology purple. Then we learned more about the color – like the fact that it’s the color of royalty and we thought, ‘That’s perfect!’ We want our customers to feel like royalty when they interact with our brand and use our products.”
Purple is the color of royalty. We want our customers to feel like royalty when they interact with our brand and use our products.
Purple decided to take their company public in the summer of 2017.
Terry told us it seemed like the natural next step in accomplishing their goal of helping one billion people feel better. An ambitious goal – but so is naming a mattress after a color. And hey, that seemed to work.
To learn more about the Purple mattresses, see our reviews of the original Purple mattress or the New Purple mattress (offered at three firmness levels – the Purple .2, Purple .3 and Purple .4) and visit purple.com.
Get to know Terry
What mattress do you sleep on?
“I sleep on the Purple.4. My wife and I love all of that luxurious comfort we get from that model. The more Purple, the better!”
What do you most enjoy about running your own sleep company?
“One of our goals from the beginning was to be able to provide meaningful employment for people. We’ve done that and we get to see the effect it has on people’s lives every day.”
If you had to come up with one “insider’s secret” for how to go about buying a mattress, what would it be?
“Look at the ingredients. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find quality products when you’re shopping for a mattress, but that can be the difference between a mattress that lasts for one year or 20 years.”
How do you like being in business with your brother?
“It’s been a great 20+ years. We couldn’t have done this without family. It truly is a blessing.”
Get to know Savannah
What’s your secret for creating viral content?
“No real secret – just follow best practices.”
- Follow social in real-time and be culturally savvy
- Constantly consume content
- Do retrospectives TOGETHER – see what worked and what didn’t. Sharing that with ALL the teams together.
- Telling a story in everything
- We work closely with Google and Facebook themselves and use their insights – so much data. Find a rep and build a relationship with them
- The Purple marketing team even has an Instagram group that shares posts they use for inspiration.
What’s the biggest roadblock you’ve faced in building a brand?
“The biggest lesson we are learning every day is how to communicate with our customers. We definitely try to have fun with them (what we call it “purpleifying everything” – packaging, emails, etc), but sometimes we have to give them bad news like their bed is going to get there late. We are working on having our communication both branded and sincere.”