Both& Apparel's Finnegan Shepard Shares 3 Ways to Maintain Brand Integrity

As Finnegan Shepard's business took off, he had to remain focused on the company’s core values in order to maintain its brand integrity—the consistency and honesty of a brand’s values, communications, and actions. 

Both& Apparel's Finnegan Shepard Shares 3 Ways to Maintain Brand Integrity
Both& Apparel founder and CEO, Finnegan Shepard

Key Takeaways:

  • Clearly defining your brand's core values is crucial 
  • Maintaining brand integrity takes teamwork
  • Keeping open lines of communication with your audience is key 

How do you maintain brand integrity as your business grows? 

Finnegan Shepard (he/him) faced this exact question with the rapid expansion of his fashion brand Both& Apparel — a clothing brand dedicated to creating clothing that addresses the specific fit and style needs of the transgender, gender-fluid, and gender-expansive communities. 

As his business took off, he had to remain focused on the company’s core values in order to maintain its brand integrity—the consistency and honesty of a brand’s values, communications, and actions. 

In my interview with Shepard on theTransition of Style podcast, the Both& Apparel founder and CEO shared how he maintains his brand’s core values, communicates with his audience, and more. 

Here are 3 lessons you can  learn from Shepard about building and keeping your brand's integrity. 

Clearly identify your brand’s core values

Both& fulfills the needs of the gender non-conforming and gender-expansive community, and that is at the core of its values. Finnegan Shepard explains himself: 

“I get a lot of credit for how effective our marketing is, or how well our ads convert [...] and I’m like, you could credit me for, you know, headlines are creative, or you could just realize that [...] I’ve created something that people actually want and have been waiting their whole life for.” 

But as feedback starts to trickle in from the audience, it’s very easy for a brand to progressively shift its priorities, and end up losing focus of its original intent. Having a concrete core identity prevents the business from diluting itself in the sea of conflicting opinion.

In Shepard’s case, one of the most frequent complaints coming from the following community concerns the price range. Both& is an ethically produced, sustainable fashion brand, and one of its core values is size inclusivity

The brand strives to offer as many sizes as possible for every item, which impacts the production costs, and ultimately the price of the items itself.  To this point, Shepard said, “To have an accessible price point runs in direct contradiction to having not 8 sizes, but 20 sizes.” 

Having a very clear idea of what the brand is about – size inclusivity – helped Shepard solve the conflict between customer demands and brand integrity. 

What other entrepreneurs can learn from this? Understand what matters most to you for your business, and find ways to stay true to that. Sometimes that means making difficult business decisions.

Build a strong network of support

Working day and night to the point of burn-out is unfortunately a common experience for new entrepreneurs. An exhausted leader can’t always make informed decisions that align with their brand’s values, and that can directly impact the integrity of the brand. 

Shepard acknowledges the immense benefit of having a solid support system of friends, family, and his partner:

It takes a village. [...] My CFO, he’s one of my best friends since I was five years old. He still hasn’t taken a dime from Both&, and we’re like three years in and on top of his nine to five job, he has handled our finances and a lot of our operational stuff just day in, day out because he believes in Both& [...] 
Same with my wife. At the end of the day, I get to come off a meeting and be spinning like a top and go out there and go on a walk with her and decompress and get her to sort of ground me [...] 

Sometimes the journey of entrepreneurship is portrayed as a solitary path, but the reality is far from it. Success is deeply connected with the community and network that surrounds the entrepreneur.

Basically, building a successful business that has strong values and integrity is a collective endeavor, not a solo mission. 

Communicate with your audience

Accepting feedback about how you handle your business is a great way to improve and reassess your brand’s values if necessary, and it shows the audience that you really do mean what you say. A lot of brand integrity is about giving your audience avenues to talk to you.

At Both& Apparel, there is an open line of communication with the audience on several platforms, including Instagram, where the company is very active. The best example of useful communication practice can be found on their website, where several forms are available for consumers to fill out in order to share their experience. 

Maintaining a transparent and open dialogue with consumers is not just beneficial for brand integrity; it's critical for survival and growth in today's competitive market. Both& actively engages with its audience across various platforms, particularly through direct feedback mechanisms on their website. 

Follow their example to make your own business viable: constant interaction ensures that your brand remains relevant, adaptable, and deeply connected to its community.

Finnegan Shepard's journey with Both& Apparel offers invaluable lessons on nurturing brand integrity in a fast-paced, consumer-driven market. The story underscores three pivotal strategies: clearly defining your brand's core values, leaning on a support system, and maintaining open lines of communication with your audience

But in my interview with Both& CEO and Founder Finnegan Shepard, we covered much, much more.

Want to learn more about this exclusive interview? Listen to the episode on the Transition of Style website.