Differentiation. Doing it better. Doing it right.
What in the hell is SLAP Nutrition? That question is exactly what we envisioned hearing over and over and over again, when the idea of branding our supplements came to us. That question is exactly what we wanted to hear. Why is that? Because, from inception it meant that people understood we were different, and that, is what we wanted. This industry, for all its good and positive attributes, is quite frankly very much the same. Just like they say a certain professional football league is a copycat league, meaning someone wins “the big game” with a mobile quarterback, then everyone in the league then wants and has to have a mobile quarterback. All of the coaches have all coached or played with each other and float around the league going from team to team and it’s a big boys club of all insiders. At its core, it’s a copycat league. The fitness and nutrition industry is similar in a lot of ways, meaning, most companies brand their supplements similarly, and they do so because it has worked for them in the past. How many times have you gone into a nutrition shop and just stared at the walls for 25 minutes, with your eyes glazing over, trying to figure out what makes one black tub different from the other? I know it happens, because I spent a crazy amount of my own time (seriously, it was months of my time) doing just that, staring at walls of supplements, and deciphering labels, all while trying to figure out what makes people buy what they buy. Out of all of the things that I realized staring at those walls, the most important thing was that I personally don’t relate to any of the brands that were staring blankly back at me. Most, not all, but most of the brands I run into on a daily basis are hardcore, extreme, muscle, or lab tech. I personally don’t relate to any of those brands, but I had to buy them in the past, because that’s all I could ever find. I didn’t have a choice. The question for me became “Why can’t one product be so good and healthy that everyone can use it?”
As we started dissecting the labels, one thing stood out like a sore thumb; there were just so many chemicals in these supplements. Monosachpolydexsaywhatthef@#$? Seriously, what is that? We started googling and researching all these chemical names, because we had to. Most of them had laundry lists of chemicals on their labels too. Then we ran into “proprietary blend” after blend; which is just a fancy way to put even more chemicals in it, but this time with a trademark, so they don’t have to tell the consumer what the chemicals actually are. Then it was what's called "pixie dusting", which is just a way to add tons of "ingredients" to your products and say it really works because "OMG, look what's in it"; but in reality there are so few trace amounts of this stuff in there that there's no way it does what they say. Ok, so you're going to add a 51 chemicals to 1 small scoop of something and its somehow a miracle gainer? Nope, doesn't add up. Next up, it was the sucralose/aspartame thing. Ugh, it was in almost every tub we looked at and there are so many studies that show just how bad for you they are.
So we all sat down one Saturday afternoon and started shooting ideas around, cross-referencing labels and ingredients and we all agree on one thing; we wanted something clean, without chemicals, and with less ingredients than anyone else. When you look at most of the brands out there, you get the feeling that they just add more chemicals to differentiate themselves. Brand X has this in it, so brand Y has X+Z, so it must make you bigger and stronger. I don’t buy into that logic; its whey protein isolate, not pharm grade bull testosterone. So for SLAP Nutrition, our product had to be clean. If you really wanted to be “healthy and fit” why wouldn’t you want your whey protein to be as much “only whey protein” as possible? It should be, that’s why it’s called an “isolate”, you are trying to isolate the whey protein from everything else; and if it’s clean, there’s a lot less of everything else to begin with. Our entire existence as a company is centered around the principle of having minimal (a handful or less) ingredients (our whey has only 4 or 5 ingredients, total, depending on the flavor) and being able to pronounce them all. The consumer needs to know what they are putting in their bodies, so we even sarcastically define each ingredient for them. Why? Because I want to know what I’m putting in my body, and not one person in this industry has ever thought enough about the consumer, to let the consumer really know what they are making their supplements with. Well, that changed with us.
My wife posed the question “what do we want our brand to be?” We got out a legal pad and wrote down everything we didn’t like about supplements, whether it was the stuff I just described above with the chemicals and artificial sweeteners, or the scoop being on the bottom, or opening a 5lb tub and having it be half full of air, or the containers all being black. We looked at each other and agreed to create a brand that differentiated us in a very significant way from the rest of the market. So at this point, we firmly knew what we wanted to be; we just needed a name.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the “hardcore” and “muscle” type names in the fitness industry. Some of them are really cool and some of them are quite frankly kind of ridiculous. We didn’t want to take a name and just add a letter to the end of it to spell it wrong in a gimmicky way or name our company something that we could put on a monogramed bath towel. A lot of folks have done these things very successfully, but doing that wasn’t going to help us differentiate ourselves like we wanted. So it had to be something that we had the balls to call ourselves, something so different that people couldn’t help but say “what in the hell is SLAP Nutrition”. It was right in front of us, but what would it be? I can tell you that I was a big comic book fan growing up and loved superheroes and Nintendo. What happens in comics when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear? You slap them. And so there it was, SLAP. Had anyone ever even thought of putting an 8-bit (Nintendo used 8-bit graphics) looking SLAP HAND on a can of whey protein? Um, no. But we just did. It was our fun and sarcastic way of saying “no more” to the junk in supplements that is pushed in the nutrition industry, many times just to make a buck (and if you know me, sarcasm is one of the languages I speak). Oh, your whey has junk chemicals in it? SLAP. That was it for us, as if to say “We are creating our business, doing it our way and to all that other stuff out there, here’s a giant SLAP”. Plus it’s easy and fun to say. We also didn’t want a black tub with a red or black label, that’s the antithesis of what we are about, and besides, there are already like 10,000 of them out there. So we rolled with baby blue and yellow, with a comic book font for our lettering. For us, our brand had to stand out, and it does, boldly, when you put it next to any other supplement in the market. We believe that’s how we differentiate our products, it’s not by adding more ingredients to them. It’s made with better quality and it’s made to be visually different; that’s differentiation.
So we had established the name and we had the look, but, that’s only our brand, that’s not solely who we are as a company or as people. We are principled people who treat others the way we want to be treated, with respect, without ego, and with integrity; which was another area of this industry we wanted to improve upon. So we run our business the way we want to; by our own rules, and not according to what our competitors are doing or have done in the past. We want to make a positive difference in all areas of what we do in this business, not just with our supplements. We believe in people and do not begrudge the success of anyone else; because our way is not the only way, and we get that and understand it, and because we put our egos away a long time ago. Oh, and we have a fun time running our business too; and we want our customers to have a blast as well. We hope our supplements help make all of the hard work that our customers do, more fun.
My wife asked me one night “what do you want people to say about the owners of SLAP Nutrition?” I answered her within 5 seconds and in my head was a vision I’ll never forget; it was two athletes at a show and one asked the other “Hey, have you met those guys from SLAP Nutrition yet?” and the one answered back “No I haven’t, what are they like?” The response… “They are awesome and really cool, just good people, who totally get it”.
SLAP Nutrition, our brand symbolizes who we strive to be every single day. Making a positive difference, that’s what we are all about.
Differentiation. Doing it better. Doing it right.