Building a brand with a strong message

Photography: Vlad Savin

How a vegan condom brand is making carrying condoms as normal as hair-ties

If you’re into sustainable living, you’ve probably heard of Jonny by now. Available online as well as in store across multiple retailers, these almost-too-pretty-to-use vegan condoms are taking Australia by storm.

Headed up by 3 friends, Bec Villanti, Samantha Eades and Bec Park, Jonny is about so much more than design and conscious packaging choices. Jonny is about empowering women and changing the way we think about sexual health, partnered with witty on-point copy and sexy packaging. A young and refreshing business that demonstrates what being crystal-clear about who you are and who you’re talking to can do for your brand.

Our content manager Athena sat down with Bec Park to bring you all the juicy deets on the thinking behind Jonny and how it all started.

I read how Jonny first started with you and the two other co-founders in a fairly common scenario, looking at condoms and thinking that these products didn’t cater to women specifically. Could you tell me a little more about why this motivated you to create Jonny?

Bec: There is a 10+ year difference between myself and Bec V (youngest of the trio) and when we realised that all 3 of us had encountered similar scenarios when faced with either buying condoms, or in situations when we really wanted one, we realised that not a lot had changed across the generations. 

When we started asking other women about their experiences, it was evident that really the language and acceptance of condom-use had not evolved.

Founders of Jonny sitting on a couch

Then when we started looking into how other brands were communicating to their audience (men). The findings from our research reinforced why we had to do something about changing the stigma and the perception (look up Durex advertising – you will see what we mean!)

We had to change the picture and get the conversation started. We were astounded that the market had not really moved in decades. Along with this, STDs are on the rise amongst teens – which is no wonder given how they are communicated to. So, we knew we had to do something!

Personally, I was extra motivated as my daughter was 13 at the time and there was no way I wanted her to experience the shame or awkwardness many of us had when a condom was not available. I wanted her to feel prepared, proud and in control of the choices she made. If you change the language, make the communication around sex normal, then this moves the stigma.

Can you tell me more about the core message/value you’re trying to communicate? What’s your mission with Jonny? What change are you trying to see in our society, or even the world?

Bec: The core message of Jonny really boils down to one of intimate equality and mutual respect. If we can change the language, thoughts and behaviours associated with being sex-ready, then we have begun to have an impact on generations to come.

We want to make carrying (and using) condoms as normal as lipstick and hair-ties!

The way we see it is, if you want to have sex with someone who wants to have sex with you, then good on you, go for it! It is no-one else’s business really. Get out there and enjoy it – with respect at the core. If you can see using a condom as a way of protecting your sexual health & wellbeing AND protecting the sexual health & wellbeing of your partner – then go for it! That is respect.

Never should this choice be seen as a shameful or embarrassing one.  Neither partner should be ashamed of carrying and insisting on using a condom. If they do, we ask you, is this the person you really want to have sex with… really? We feel Jonny gives you permission to believe & think like this.

For women, there has been extra shame associated with carrying and insisting on the use of condoms. And, it has also been looked upon as “the man’s responsibility”. But really? In 2019, are we really going to accept this? We believe that there is a dual responsibility; it is equal responsibility, as much as it is a personal responsibility to value yourself.

Hence, ‘Be Good’; be good to self, to others and the planet.

In a quick few words, what do you think Jonny promises its customers? How do your customers benefit from using your products?

Bec: Jonny promises to break down the taboos; to help our customers feel proud to purchase, carry and use condoms. Through conversation and wit, Jonny breaks down the stigma and starts to remove the shame.

How did you realise that condom brands on the market were predominantly targeting men?

Bec: You just need to Google “condom advertising”, or look at some of the websites and you will see that not a lot has changed from the stalwarts in the industry. Read the text (language); watch the videos (young girls rolling around on a bed – I mean seriously?). You don’t have to show half-naked bodies to promote a condom!

You don’t have to be overly sexualised to create appeal. It is such old-school thinking.

One of the most empowering messages from Jonny is acknowledging the social stigma of women carrying condoms. Do you think that Jonny’s brand promise addresses that – to rid that social stigma?

Bec: We really hope so. Even though we are targeting women, the forgotten market, Jonny is a gender-neutral brand. We want men to feel as proud carrying Jonny as a woman does. There isn’t a brand that has really nailed this and we feel Jonny is making waves because of it. Currently, we have just as many men buying Jonny online as women. That is cool. That makes us super proud of our evolution so far.

What are some practical steps you took to identify and streamline your brand message?

Bec: Competitor research – an absolute must. What is the market doing? How is it communicating to our audience? Is there an opportunity?

Market research – we ran focus groups with our target market to make sure what we felt was what the younger market was feeling. It was!

Supplier alignment – we worked hard to get the right people on board; people who believed in what we were aiming to do. Surprisingly this wasn’t easy; but we persisted and found some wonderful aligned humans to help us get Jonny out.

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