Is Your Boring Brand Personality Killing Your Sales?: How Ecommerce Brand Saddleback Leather Gets It Right

If you sell a commodity product in a competitive niche, can using brand personality as a differentiator really make a difference to your bottom line, or is that just some BS sold by ad agencies and marketers who want your business?

The real question: When competing for audience attention and dollars, can a standout brand personality, creatively expressed in your marketing communications and other customer touchpoints, help drive sales and build a devoted following of customers and brand evangelists who are happy to spread the word far and wide about your products?

If we look to the example of Saddleback Leather Company, the answer is yes.

This article will explore how Saddleback Leather CEO Dave Munson (with the help of other smart people in his orbit) has figured out how to set his company apart in a memorable (and profitable) way among a sea of other leather goods companies, at least partly by using personality as a differentiator.*

I’ll be focusing specifically on the Saddleback Leather website, though the brand personality comes across in their videos, emails, and all other communication touchpoints as well.


I do not have insider access to company data or insights. The observations and opinions here are my own, based solely on my 15+ years of experience as a former ad agency employee, freelance marketing copywriter, DTC ecommerce copywriter and lover of brands with personality, along with the copious research I did before I began writing. Any dumb takes or egregious mistakes should be attributed to me, and not the sources and articles I link to in this blog post.

Also very important: The success Saddleback Leather has achieved is a result of many elements, of which brand personality is just one. Brand personality just happens to be what I’m focusing on here.

Sources: The sources I used to write this post, including articles, podcast interviews with Dave Munson, and research into brand personality, differentiation, and other related topics, are listed at the end of this post.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way …

Introduction & Background

Today I’m taking a look at a small subset of popular leather goods company Saddleback Leather’s digital presence – specifically, their website – to demonstrate how a compelling unique value proposition (UVP), use of storytelling, quirky brand personality and stand-out copy – help them differentiate in a crowded, competitive market with a commodity product, and generate enviable revenue.

How much revenue, you ask?

While I don’t have personal, insider knowledge of the numbers, my research tells me that in late 2017 (the most recent figures I could find), that figure was over 15 million dollars a year in online sales.

At around that same timeframe, it took 200 employees to keep up with Saddleback Leather’s bag orders.

Not bad for someone who:

:: Started off selling leather bags from the luggage rack of his Land Cruiser

:: Sold bags on Ebay when he didn’t have a company name yet, didn’t spend any money on marketing for the first nine years of his business, and who sells a commodity product in a very saturated niche

But beyond the revenue figures, Saddleback Leather has also cultivated something insanely valuable that you can’t put a dollar figure on – they have not just customers, but devoted superfans and brand evangelists who buy from them again and again, AND who spread the good word about the company and its products.

The bottom line:

As the experts at branding agency Ignyte point out in their article, Brand Personality: How to Build a More Human Brand, brand personality is “one of the most important factors in differentiating your brand from the competition.”

And, crucially:

“Personality is the part of your brand that your customers identify and build a relationship with. Because of this, personality branding plays a huge role in driving customer acquisition, fostering brand loyalty, and building brand equity.”  

And that means, all other things being equal, if you sell a commodity product in a competitive niche, emotionally connecting with your ideal customers through brand personality not only helps you stand out in a saturated market, but as a result, also helps influence buying decisions.

Before I break down how I believe Saddleback Leather does this, you may be wondering …

If you’re mostly hitting your KPIs, should you even concern yourself with brand personality?

Let’s say you know the way your brand personality shows up in your marketing communications could use some work, but your website is passable at getting the kind of conversions that define success in your business.

For example, you’re getting email subs on the regular and you’re making sales consistently – i.e., whatever your KPIs are, you’re mostly hitting them – can’t you put off improving your website copy, emails, and other content and marketing communications until later, or just ignore it altogether?

Here’s something to consider:

Every day you operate with a stale, boring, or not-quite-there brand personality, a chunk of the traffic you’re spending time and money to drive to your website & email opt-in are bouncing off, never to return, because potential buyers don’t care about your story or feel an emotional connection with your brand.

And some of those people who bounced?

👉 They could have been your most ardent supporters, superfans, and repeat buyers, for years to come. You’re leaking profits and the opportunity to build an audience of devoted customers and brand evangelists. 👈

On the other hand, when you make an emotional connection through communicating a distinctive, original brand personality, the right customers – and more of them – will want to do business with you.

That’s because “People purchase products because of a story, an emotional connection they feel with a brand.”

And they can’t feel that emotional connection with your brand if your marketing communications are lackluster, bland, and boring.

Ask yourself:

Are potential customers coming to your website right now? Today? Tomorrow? Next week? Then communicating your distinctive brand personality right now, today, tomorrow and next week is imperative.

 “ … you don’t get the opportunity to make a first impression multiple times. How you present your brand across the web matters –– and it matters from day 1.”

OK, let’s get started!

The Details

Company: Saddleback Leather

CEO & Founder: Dave Munson

The product: Premium leather goods that promise to last a lifetime. (Backpacks, briefcases & satchels, wallets & belts, duffels, luggage, toiletry bags, totes & purses, laptop cases, phone cases, and more)

Prices range from a $29 business card holder to a leather suitcase for $1,379 and all price points in between; all products come with a 100 Year Warranty.

Revenue: While I don’t have personal, insider knowledge of the numbers, my research tells me that in late 2017 (i.e., the most recent figures I could find), that figure was over 15 million dollars a year in online sales.

Positioning & UVP: Although Saddleback Leather sells a commodity product in a highly competitive niche, Munson has built a profitable business by creating a compelling value proposition (indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime), and a differentiated and resonant brand personality that is unlike any other in the market.

[As a reminder, I’m not affiliated or connected with Saddleback Leather in any way. The information I’m sharing here is based on a combination of my own research + mining podcast & other interviews with company owner & founder, Dave Munson, from other sources.]

Let’s look at how Saddleback Leather approaches creating a differentiated brand personality on their website.  

First, what do we mean when we say, “brand personality?”

The fine folks at Ignyte – A Branding Agency, define it this way:

Brand personality is the collection of emotional, intellectual, and behavioral patterns unique to a brand that is consistent over time. Just like people, brands have recognizable traits that stem from the way they think and feel about the world. The authenticity and consistency of these traits is what separates a strong brand from a weak one.”

[I suggest reading the entire Ignyte article linked above for a thorough discussion of brand personality, why it matters to your business, and the important role it plays in differentiating your brand in a competitive niche.]


Through that lens, let’s take a look at the core components of the website Home page and how brand personality plays a role in making a strong emotional connection with the ideal buyer/customer.

When I’m writing a website or doing a website audit and copy makeover, I usually suggest the following basic components on a website Home page*:

:: Tagline

:: Value proposition expressed [on its own, or through other copy elements; the main thing is, it must be evident, either explicitly stated or conveyed implicitly though copy and image elements, etc.]

:: Headline + Body copy

:: Call to action language that asks people to do the most important thing you want them to do while on the Home page of your site [For an ecommerce site, that might be to visit your product pages, sign up for your email list, or initiate a chat session, etc. For a site selling services, it might be to subscribe to your newsletter or sign up for a complimentary consultation, etc.]

:: Email list opt-in copy 

[*CAVEAT: Obviously, how a website Home page is written, designed, and structured will depend on many things – your business model, what you sell, your website’s main purpose, your KPIs, and so on. An ecommerce website Home page will be different than a service provider’s Home page, an attorney’s different than a circus clown’s, etc.]


The importance of a compelling tagline

Because of the enormous competition on the web in every product category out there, and the fact that you’ve got just 2-7 seconds (and some experts say, 2 seconds, period) to catch someone’s attention, a good tagline is important.

In a sea of competing sites that sell similar products or services, you have to do something to stand out and instantly get the attention of your ideal buyer, and a good tagline can help you do that.

What defines a “good” tagline?

An effective tagline will communicate your brand’s message in way that resonates with your ideal audience and gets them to stop and take notice of your business.

It simply needs to get your most likely buyer – not everyone, but only your most LIKELY buyer – to stay on your site long enough to explore what you have to offer, and determine what they want to do next, whether that’s check out your Shop pages, inquire about your products or services, fill out a contact form, sign up for your email list or some other action, depending on your goals and KPIs.

The Saddleback Leather Tagline

Saddleback Leather is known by copywriters, marketing geeks and other students of brand differentiation for having one of the most iconic, memorable taglines on the web:

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website]

This is a tagline that stops you in your tracks, if you’re the ideal customer. It sets the tone for everything else you’ll experience on the website and throughout the rest of Saddleback Leather’s marketing communications.

In a sea of competing leather goods brands, it stands out and instantly gets the attention of the ideal buyer. 

Bingo! That means it’s a winner.

Think about it … they could have gone for a bland, boring, forgettable tagline like:

:: Quality Leather Goods for Men & Women

:: Fine Leather Goods & Accessories

:: Premium Leather Goods

:: Or, like many leather goods companies you’ll find online, no tagline at all.

None of the taglines above tell a story or differentiate the brand in any way.

But the Saddleback Leather tagline starts to tell a story the second you land on their website.

It’s arresting, full of personality, and conveys an immediate benefit and the essence of the brand.

You instantly begin to sense that there’s something different about this leather goods company. There’s adventure here. Ruggedness. Maybe some mystery. And definitely lots of interesting stories.

And that?

That makes you eager to explore more of the website and see what else there is if you’re the ideal customer … which is exactly what you want a tagline to do.

[Want to hear the story of how founder Dave Munson came up with the iconic tagline? Check out episode 181 of Steve Chou’s My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, How Dave Munson Started Saddleback Leather by Leveraging the Power of Storytelling, to hear the story.]


What is a value proposition?

This isn’t a class on marketing terminology (and Google returns 173,000,000 million results when you search this term), but the fine folks at Hubspot make it simple to understand:

“Your company’s value proposition is the core of your competitive advantage. It clearly articulates why someone would want to buy from your company instead of a competitor.”

Saddleback Leather creates indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime.

Their value proposition is expressed clearly and directly in the tagline, and it’s evident in copy and image elements across the website.

For example, you’ll find it expressed either overtly or subtly in:

#1: The famed 100-year warranty

#2: The videos, accessible by scrolling down the Home page and clicking on “Films & Videos” from the image / photo gallery in the READING MATERIAL section

Where you can watch videos like these:

Ten hours of hand stitching with Saddleback Leather, What Quality is in a Saddleback Leather Briefcase?, Australian Crocodile Attacks Bag, and Reconditioning a Saddleback Bag after a direct hit from a tornado, to name just four.

#3: The product copy on the PDP pages

Here’s some of the product description language you’ll find for on the product detail page for the Everyday Leather Tote:

Over-Engineering; no breakable parts; reinforced stitching; copper rivets; custom hardware is made of 316 Stainless Steel; really strong UV resistant industrial Polyester thread, which is “more expensive, by far, but doesn’t deteriorate when the sun hits it like Nylon does.”

#4: The Leather Buyer’s Guide

#5: The answers on the FAQ page

Notice that in all those places where the value proposition is expressed, either explicitly or implicitly, the elements of the brand’s personality – adventurous, friendly, genuine, strong, rugged, outdoorsy, etc. – are obvious.

To sum up, the Saddleback Leather value proposition is distinct, memorable, and differentiates the brand from other leather goods companies. And it positively reeks of their undeniable, one-of-a-kind personality in a way that resonates with their ideal customers.


You know what they say – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

And because a Home Page is usually the most highly-trafficked page on your website, you want to make sure you’re drawing web visitors in and getting them curious about your brand, so they’ll eagerly click through to other key parts of your site to learn more about your products and/or services.

The Home page of your website functions as a virtual storefront. Just like on a busy street with lots of stores, you want to provide a warm, welcoming, value-packed reason for web visitors to “come inside,” otherwise they’ll click away. 

Your Home page needs to: 

Convince busy and easily distractable web visitors on a mission to find specific, problem-solving information or a specific kind of product or service, to stay on your site long enough to read further, find out what you’re about, and, if they’re the ideal client or customer, take some kind of action – such as checking out your products or services, reading your blog, contacting you for more information, filling out your contact form, or signing up for your email list, depending on the kind of business you have and what your KPIs are.

 [Signing up for the email list is usually the most highly leveraged action to focus on, because that is the audience you’ll be developing a long-term relationship with, and presenting with offers to buy your products or services.]

The idea with web copy is to get people to take action. Because when they take action, they’ll become more engaged with your brand. You want them engaged and curious enough to click around your site and become more involved in the “world” you’ve created on your website.

And because of the way people read and search on the web, you only have a few seconds to do this.

One way to grab attention is with a distinctive brand personality.

If you want to get – and keep – the attention of your ideal customers among a sea of competing brands who sell similar products, your website and other marketing communications need to convey your differentiated brand personality quickly and persuasively.

Notice how Saddleback Leather starts to do this the second you land on their website with a compelling value proposition and a strong tagline, as discussed above.

Add in persuasive storytelling, and the singular Saddleback Leather personality as conveyed through copy and images, and you’ve got a winning formula for standing out in a saturated sea of competitors.

[Screenshot of Hero section of the Home page as of 06.02.23. This will change depending on when you’re viewing the site, and rotates depending on what’s being promoted. Fun fact: When I worked as a product copywriter for the DTC ecommerce site of the apparel brand Champion, I learned how important it is for an ecommerce website Home page to show “newness” or “freshness,” hence the changing images.]

If you’re Saddleback’s ideal customer, you’re instantly hooked and the next step for you is likely checking out a few Shop category pages or even individual PDPs, maybe signing up for the newsletter, watching some of the videos or otherwise interacting with the site.

👉 This is good; this is what we want! Because this kind of engagement means web visitors are curious; they’re becoming invested in your brand and your story. 👈

Scroll down below the Hero image on the Home page, and you’ll find images & copy that direct you to click over to the category pages for Men’s, Women’s, New Arrivals, and Corporate Gifts. (Again, depending on when you’re viewing the page, since ecommerce sites often change out images frequently, depending on what’s being promoted.)

And then below that, we have an embedded video of CEO Dave Munson walking with lions. This is an obvious differentiator, and helps establish the distinctive Saddleback Leather brand personality: bold, adventurous and rugged, with sturdy leather goods that can stand up to any experience, venture or undertaking.

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

And definitely not something you’re going to see other leather goods ecommerce sites.

Next, as of 06.04.23 viewing, there’s the Leather Desk Collection image and [Shop now] CTA, then a featured products section, then The Saddleback Story section, and finally, the Reading Material section.

Let’s talk about those last two sections briefly.

The Saddleback Story

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

Ah, the Saddleback Story. This tale has everything: travel, adventure, danger, federales, “surf trips, car crashes, jungle treks, countless taco stands,” and lots of other unforgettable details.

Woven throughout this captivating narrative is the brand’s origin story.  

“So, I had my first bag made while living in Southern Mexico as a volunteer English teacher to kids who needed a little help at a place called Centro NOE.”

When Munson got back to the States, “People crossed the street to ask about it and came out of their offices when I walked by their windows.”

So, he decided to move back to Mexico to get more bags made and get the company off the ground.

After a few years, and many twists and turns, including the business taking off then almost sinking, Saddleback is now a “strong and healthy leather company, built to be able to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.”

(There’s so much more to the Saddleback origin story than what I’ve summarized here, so I’d suggest reading through the entire thing to see how a compelling, authentic brand story is told.)

Your backstory is your fingerprint

Notice how genuine this story feels. In many ways, it doesn’t feel like an “official” brand story at all, because it’s not slick, commercial, or mainstream; it’s not trying to be a colorful story about a founder because that’s what some marketing/branding/advertising exec/ guru suggested, instead, it feels real because it IS real, etc.

And that adds to its appeal.

The Saddleback backstory is a key piece of what differentiates the brand, and can’t be duplicated by any other brand out there, end of story.

👉 As I always say, your backstory is your fingerprint™, no one else has it or can replicate it, so use it to your advantage in your all your brand communications, where relevant. 👈

Now, my guess would be that Dave Munson himself wrote the content on this page, but I can’t be sure of it.

If you’ve watched any of their videos or listened to Dave on podcasts (which I have, many times), the voice of the Saddleback Story copy certainly sounds like him. And that, again, adds a unique flair that can’t be replicated.

Consider how you can apply this to your own brand story

Now, maybe you don’t have a bullfight, a crooked federale, a $100 per month apartment in Juarez, or travels to Bora Bora, Kenya, Tanzania, or Rwanda as part of your backstory, but there are elements you can tease out that relate to your brand and products that set you apart in your niche, I’m sure of it.

How do I know this?

Almost every time I’ve worked with a copywriting client, they say some version of, “But there’s nothing unique or different about me or my business. There are dozens of other [fill in the blank with their kind of business here] who do what I do. I can’t think of anything that differentiates my products or services or sets me apart.”

And almost every time, that’s not true. In fact, I can’t think of a single client I’ve ever worked with where that has turned out to be true.

It just does not happen.

The trick is to tease out your “unique recipe” (HT to Derek Halpern; see below), which I do with clients during the intake process.


I remember a wedding photographer I worked with a few years ago who said to me on our first call, “There’s nothing unique or different about me. I’m one of hundreds of wedding photographers in my town.”

If you research wedding photographers online, you’ll notice that in most cases, there are many of them in any given town, even small towns. And they almost all have sites with gorgeous work samples and glowing testimonials, but not much that differentiates them one from the next.

So, I understand why my client might have felt the way she did.

BUT … once I started digging through said client’s intake questionnaire, the combination of things that set her apart (aka, her “unique recipe”) were obvious to me.

Yes, there were lots of other talented wedding photographers in her town. But her differentiating factors, when combined, could easily help her stand out among her peers.

For example:

:: She specialized in fine art wedding photography, using natural light, with a focus on outdoor shots in iconic Arizona locations, for first-time brides in their 20s and early 30s.

:: Her work had been featured in Vogue and Brides Magazine, among others.

:: In addition to her killer photography skills, she was also known for being a trusted guide and reliable friend and partner in the planning process.

:: And she had a great reputation for providing impeccable service and a stellar client experience, with the client testimonials to back it up.

And so on.

At the end of the day, there were many things about her services, her approach, her unique photography style, and her background, etc., that when swirled together, easily set her apart from the other wedding photographers in her town.

As Derek Sivers would say, “Obvious to you. Amazing to others.”

Never doubt that you possess talents, skills, gifts & abilities that others find amazing (and that can help you stand out in a crowded market).

A few months after I finished my work with this client, I received an email from her out of the blue one day, saying this:

“How are you? I’m sitting here reading my pricing magazine and thinking about how the web copy you wrote has worked wonders for me. I continue to use it daily over here! On my website and especially my pricing guide that gets me a ton of bookings. What an amazing difference it has made for my business this year. I wanted to send you a nice email, thanks again for everything.” ~Rachael K., Wedding Photographer


I can also remember when I felt this way about my own services.

When I first got started online a bunch of years ago, it seemed impossible to differentiate myself from the thousands of other copywriters out there offering similar services.

It was a real pain point for the first 6-8 months after launching my website and “officially” declaring myself a freelance copywriter for hire.

And it showed in my results – or lack thereof. 

I eventually realized that while none of the things I do is unique in and of itself, the combination is – the kind of clients I work with, my offerings, my personality & style, my process and approach, and my backstory – all combine to help me stand out in the market.

This is what Derek Halpern, who ran the site Social Triggers, calls “a unique recipe.”

Once I understood this and seeded it through all my copy and communications online, things started to get much easier. In a nutshell, I started to attract more of the kind of clients I wanted to work with who saw me as different from other freelance copywriters offering nearly identical services.

“A unique recipe” – this is important to keep in mind.

Remember, you don’t have to come up with one singular attribute that makes your brand different from every other brand on the planet who does what you do.

👉 You simply have to find your unique recipe, and your backstory is a huge part of that.

Add in expressing your brand’s unique personality and voice, the way Saddleback Leather does, and you’re practically guaranteed to set yourself apart from the competition.


Help me, help you (as Jerry Maguire would say) 😊

Want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts? I’m putting the finishing touches on it now; if you’d like to be notified when it’s ready, simply enter your email address in the opt-in form at the end of this blog post, and I’ll send it your way as soon I get it finalized.

In the meantime, I’ll send you my Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist while you wait, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, check out the instructions at the end of this post.



Now, let’s take a look at the next section on the Home page.

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website Home page]

Notice how everything here fits into the rugged, adventurous, or “it’ll-last-a-lifetime” ethos.

This image grid, like other elements of the brand’s visual identity, instantly conveys the one-of-a-kind personality of the brand.

Click on any of the images, and you’ll find personality to spare.

From the “How to Convince Your Spouse” section, for example:

“Honey, all my life I’ve wanted to own something nice enough to hand down to our oldest son and so I want to buy a $5000 pocket watch to show him as he grows up.” To which she responds, “Are you crazy? We don’t have that kind of money!” So that’s when you say, “Well, then would you mind if I just got a $599 Heirloom Quality Leather Briefcase for the kid to remember me by when I’m gone? Which one do you think I should get?”

The entire page is a joy to read if you’re the brand’s ideal customer, but probably not so much if you’re not.

Which brings up a very important point …

👉 One of the effects of carving out your singular brand personality is that there’s a high probability you’re going to turn off some people, maybe a lot of people.

On the plus side, this also means there will be many others who deeply resonate with your messaging. Those folks will stick around, check out your product pages and sign up for your email list. Even better, many will become longtime loyal customers and brand evangelists.

Let’s be real … I’m sure there are things about Saddleback Leather that will turn lots of people off. For example, working with leather in the first place, or the fact that they openly express their faith. It’s not overt or in your face in my estimation, but it’s there, and they don’t shy away from it.

Whether I believe what they believe or not, in terms of faith or anything else, I do know I’m drawn to the transparency and honesty of how they express it, of how they are who they are and don’t try to hide what could be off-putting for at least some prospective customers.

Yet, despite these potential deal breakers, they have a wildly successful business that generates millions of dollars in revenue per year.

Speaking of transparency, I love this last line of the “Our Purpose and Mission” section:

“But please know this right now, I’m a hypocrite. I say to do things and not do things, but I mess up with those things myself. I try not to, but I do. Just wanted to get that out there in case you were wondering.”

This (and really, everything else on the site) lets you know you’re dealing with real people, people who care deeply about the way they conduct business and not “just” any old leather goods brand you found in your online search for a backpack, wallet, purse, or belt, etc.

And none of this feels calculated, commercialized or contrived, but rather, wholly authentic.


Now that we’ve covered the tagline, value proposition, and main body copy on the Home page, let’s take a look at the main CTA, or call to action.

What I like to see for a CTA on a website Home page is an unmissable (without being obnoxious) opportunity to sign up for an email list or newsletter, as its own stand-alone piece of copy – meaning, it’s not hidden in the footer or otherwise hard to find.

Currently, you can sign up for the Saddleback newsletter via an opt-in pop-up that appears when you land on the site (current as of June 2023):

[Screenshot from Saddleback Leather website]

There’s another sign-up opportunity in the main navigation at the top of the Home page, and again in the footer.

I don’t think it would be overkill to create a bold newsletter opt-in CTA and add it just before or after the Reading Material section on the Home page, or another place on the page where it makes sense before scrolling to the end of the page.

Because what often happens is, someone lands on a website, and many of those someone’s will instantly close out the pop-up because it’s just second nature.

Then they’ll start exploring the rest of the website, and their eyes will likely glaze right over the small, easy-to-miss newsletter sign-up opportunity in the site’s footer.

And are they going to remember to scroll back up to the main navigation at the top of the page and click on the newsletter menu item there?

Sure, in some cases, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

This is why I like to see the newsletter opt-in as the CTA at the bottom of at least 2-3 of the most highly trafficked website pages, for example, the Home page and the About Us page.

I’ll say it again – getting folks on your email list is one of the most highly-leveraged actions to focus on, because this is the audience you’ll be developing a long-term relationship with, and presenting with offers to buy your products or services.

(Plus, in the ecommerce world, in addition to all the other email flows you need in your business, you want to be able to remind people who added products to their shopping cart but didn’t finish the check-out process to return, also known as cart abandonment emails.)

The bottom line is, you want to make it super obvious and easy for website visitors to sign up for your emails. Because once they navigate away from your site, they may never return. And there goes someone who could have been one of your best customers and most vocal brand evangelists.

Smart Choice: A Dedicated Newsletter Opt-In Landing Page

That said, one thing I love that Saddleback Leather does (that I don’t see lots of other ecommerce brands do), is have a dedicated landing page solely for the newsletter opt-in, i.e., it’s not a landing page for the newsletter opt-in, plus a few other things thrown in on the page as well. (<– Which is something I have seen a handful of other ecomm brands do on their newsletter sign-up pages.)

The purpose of a landing page is to offer one and only one option – and in this case it’s to sign up for the newsletter, and

The beauty of having a newsletter opt-in landing page is that you can place the direct link to that page in your social profiles and everywhere else you interact online where links are allowed. Hard to do that when all you’ve got are opt-in forms in the footer of your site, or other low visibility places.

Get people on that email list, folks! 😊

Now, if they were to add a specific newsletter opt-in CTA on the Home page, they could simply use some of the same opt-in language they’re already using in several other places on the site, such as that on the PDP pages (more on that in a sec). Easy-peasy.

A Great Idea: Add a Newsletter Opt-In CTA to Your Product Detail Pages

Here’s something else Saddleback does that I think is just brilliant, and something I haven’t seen other ecommerce brands do: they promote the newsletter at the end of the product description on several of their PDP pages.

For example, on the Everyday Leather Tote PDP, it shows up like this:

Unproffesional at its finest — Join Our Newsletter Now.

Don’t miss out on the chance to see unprofessionalism at its finest. Join us now and subscribe to the newsletter today and get exclusive access to all our new designs, stories from the workshop, dad jokes, or bad jokes (like this one) and more delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now and get ready for a truly unique experience.

On the Big Leather Wallet PDP, you’ll find this opt-in copy:

Don’t Be Left In The Dark, Subscribe To Our Newsletter Today.

Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to knowing the latest news and stories from Saddleback Leather Co. Join us now and subscribe to the newsletter today and get exclusive access to limited edition collections, bad jokes, and even stories from when my family and I had breakfast with real kings.

And on the Leather Tow Belt PDP, you’ll see this newsletter CTA:

Better Than The 6 O’clock News, join the Newsletter Now

Forget the 6 o’clock news, subscribe to the Saddleback Leather Co newsletter and get all the latest news, updates and stories delivered right to your inbox. Never miss out on our crazy newsletter – join us now and get the best of Saddleback Leather Co.

And every one of these opt-in CTAs ooze that one-of-a-kind Saddleback Leather personality. Winning!!

Of course, I can’t say how well the newsletter CTAs on the product detail pages are working, but I bet they’re getting more newsletter sign-ups than if there were no opt-in opportunities on these pages at all.


Help me, help you, redux

Want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts? I’m putting the finishing touches on it now; if you’d like to be notified when it’s ready, simply enter your email address in the opt-in form at the end of this blog post, and I’ll send it your way as soon I get it finalized.

In the meantime, I’ll send you my Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist while you wait, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, check out the instructions at the end of this post.



So far, we’ve covered the Home page of the website and a few other key places linked to from the Home page.

Even if we stopped here, you can see how Saddleback Leather presents a differentiated brand personality in their copy and visual elements, in a way that attracts their ideal customers, builds brand loyalty, and repels the non-ideal tire-kickers.

Of course, it doesn’t stop at the Home page; the brand personality shows up everywhere across the site. In this section, I’ll briefly touch on some of these other essential website elements.


The About Us page links out to the Saddleback Story, which we’ve already discussed. It’s one of the most memorable brand stories you’ll find anywhere online.

As mentioned before, your backstory or company founder story is your fingerprint – no one else has it, so it’s a fundamental part of how you differentiate your brand among a sea of sameness.

You’ll also find the Love 41 Story linked to from the About Us page. The Love 41 story is powerful; that said, I think it would be more affecting if it were written in the first person.

So, for example, instead of this:

When she returned home five weeks later, Suzette was still consumed by the stories and people of Rwanda. There were so many children longing for someone to love them. Something had to be done, and she knew she had the ability to help. There was no choice.

It could be rewritten like this:

When I returned home five weeks later, I was still consumed by the stories and people of Rwanda. There were so many children longing for someone to love them. Something had to be done, and I knew I had the ability to help. There was no choice.

This one tiny tweak creates a stronger impact, in my estimation. It feels more potent and immediate.


Another area of the site that expresses the singular Saddleback personality is the warranty page (Even down to spelling it, “warrantee” – this too is part of their unique brand personality.):

Just remember that before you die, get all your Saddleback stuff sorted out in your will, and if there’s ever an issue, just have one of your descendants contact me or one of my descendants and we’ll get you sorted out.

If you’re the ideal customer, you just have to smile – and fall in love with the brand a little bit more.


PLPs (Product Listing Pages)

I’m not going to spend too much time here, but click through to a few of the Shop PLPs, for example, the Women’s Totes & Purses page. You’ll notice there’s a lot of copy under the product listings that explains full grain leather, why leather matters, and lots more. This is something they do on all the PLPs I checked out.

This PLP page copy reinforces the value proposition: indestructible, heirloom quality leather bags that last a lifetime. Super smart thing to do.

For example, on the Women’s Totes & PursesPLP, you’ll find this bit of copy:

We Over-Engineer our Leather Totes and Satchels

When we design our women’s leather bags, such as totes and satchels, we always design them to last a lifetime. This means adding the best stitching in all the right places, using the best possible materials, and over-engineering the bag so it can take a beating. We never want one of our customers telling us their bag didn’t hold up after a few months, years, or even decades of use. A good quality leather bag should get better with age.

Another PLP page I want to point out is the Leather Belts PLP.

After the product listings, there’s lots of copy that again, reinforces the value proposition.

And mixed in with it, is delightful copy that talks about the various “belt personalities,” where we get to experience that wonderful Saddleback brand warmth and sense of humor.

Check out this gem:

Chestnut Leather Belt Personality

The chestnut leather belt is usually purchased by professional, more urban people who tuck their shirts in. They often have a watch band, shoes, and briefcase that match. People who buy chestnut-colored leather belts are usually highly educated and belong in a Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Saab, or Volvo. They are often classier than most people and perfectionists. They also typically have an excellent sense of taste in dressing and decorating, and they have a sense of humor.

And this one:

Black Leather Belt Personality

The black leather belt is usually worn by people who look good in a thick black leather jacket, ride cruiser-type motorcycles, have black boots, and have a sense of humor. People who purchase black leather belts often also have black accents in their décor, a lot of black or gray color in their clothing, and wear thick black framed glasses. They are usually classier and have a cleaner image than people who purchase other colors of belts. They often drive Volvos or Saabs and are perfectionists.

LOVE IT!  Seriously, love. 😊

The belt personalities copy reinforces a key element of Saddleback’s brand personality:  it’s fun and playful, and conveys a “we don’t take ourselves too seriously around here” attitude.

Not everyone will resonate with that copy play, but this kind of brand personality gets me every single time; I’m a sucker for it!

Other brand personality characteristics that shine through in the copy on the PLP and PDP pages, and everywhere else across the site: adventurous, not your average leather goods company, rebellious, bold, brave, friendly, warm & approachable, genuine, strong, rugged, outdoorsy, and tough, to name a few.

PDPs (Product Detail Pages)

Now let’s take a quick gander at one of the PDP pages.

On the Front Pocket Leather Backpack product detail page, there’s the standard ecommerce DTC site product details format – an image with a few basic details.

When we scroll down, there are videos, a couple of reviews, and lots and lots and LOTS of copy about this backpack. All good – the copy reinforces the value proposition and once again, expresses brand personality.

What I want to point out here is the story that begins about 3/4s down the page:

The Hiking Through the Panamanian Jungle Leather Backpack Bedtime Story

It starts off like this:

My brother and I were dropped off by a boat on one of the Bocas del Toro islands heading to a famed surf spot called Wizard Beach. Everything seemed fine as we started on the trail up a nice grassy knoll with my Leather Backpack on my back, a fancy camera around my neck, and a leather suitcase in my hand. 

And ends like this:

I’m not saying that we would have been forever lost in the jungle and eaten by monkeys there if it weren’t for my trusty leather backpack. Still, I’m just saying it’s a really good idea to wear a backpack to keep both hands free when you’re out and about off the pavement.

A story like this dimensionalizes the product in a way that standard product copy never could. Good stuff.

You don’t have to tell stories around all your products (and this kind of product copy is not right for every ecommerce brand), but if it makes sense for your brand, it can sure help.

One of the masters of fully dimensionalized, story-based product copy, is J. Peterman. Check out their site for great examples of this kind of copy.


Now let’s take a super quick peek at the Frequently Asked Questions page.

I’ve never seen a more thorough FAQ; I counted over 50 questions. The page includes information on cleaning and care, how showroom pickup works, custom work, shipping and orders, and lots more.

Naturally, even here we see the brand personality shine through:

Thanks for stopping by! Since you’re here, we know you are a lover of quality leather and like to be informed too! Well, we’ve put together some frequently asked questions (that’s FAQ for you acronym lovers!) to help you on your quest to knowing all about snagging some sweet Saddleback leather. We know your minds are vast and unique, so feel free to give us a shout or drop us a line if you don’t find what you’re looking for below. Click here to email us, or if you want to give us a holler just call (817) 402-4550. We’re here M-F from 10 AM to 5 PM Texas time, otherwise known as Central Standard Time.

And you see it in many of the Q & As, too:

-Can I request a cool scar/no scars on my leather?

Nope, it’s really the luck of the draw! If you’re not happy with what you receive, (which we really hope you are!) just give us a shout and we’ll get you set up with a return.

-Can celebrities have free bags?

“Hi Dave, I’m So and So’s manager and they asked me to ask you if they could have a free bag. Can they?” Please tell your owner to check the cushions of their couch for the extra money so they can do what the rest of the athletes, actors, musicians, and politicians do and just buy one. No special treatment here. People are people.

How can I convince my honey that I need this?

So you want it. Now comes the hard part of convincing your honey that you need it. Maybe if you throw some of these phrases into the conversation, it’ll help.

(I won’t share the full answer to this question here because it’s so long, but do yourself a favor and check it out on the FAQ page.)

I methodically went page by page through the Saddleback Leather website to write this article, and I didn’t see a single nook or cranny where brand personality wasn’t evident.


That’s what you want – even down to the microcopy in your CTAs, your footer, your opt-in forms, and everywhere else potential customers come into contact with your brand – you want the brand personality to radiate from every corner of your site (and other marketing communications).


The Contact Us page, like all other site copy, is warm, friendly and approachable.

Smart addition to this page: If you want to chat with Saddleback fans about the products, there’s a way to do that from the Contact Us page:

For a Super Fast Answer
It’ll take about 3.2 seconds to get an unbiased answer from some of the thousands of owners in one of their private Saddleback communities click here.

Nice touch, and something I haven’t seen other ecommerce brands do. Yet another way Saddleback rises above the competition in a highly saturated niche.

On the Contact Us page, they share customer service hours, showroom store hours, and pickup hours. Ways to get in touch include phone, email, chat, and even toll-free Skype calls for international customers.

Lots of options here, which is smart. Offering several contact methods engenders trust, because it demonstrates their availability to help solve customer service challenges. If you’re buying a not inexpensive leather good, you can rest easy knowing it’ll be hassle-free to contact Saddleback and resolve any issues.

One more quick note on the Contact Us page: even the microcopy in the chat function here displays the approachable, laid-back Saddleback vibe:

Saddleback Chatterbox

We typically reply in a few minutes,

Hey there, thanks for stopping by! What’s your name?

Like I said, every nook and cranny on the website conveys the singular brand personality, down to the chat function microcopy. Again, winning!


Now, while brand personality as a differentiator is essential when you sell a commodity product in a saturated, competitive niche, I’m not saying Saddleback Leather’s success is all down to that.

No, they’ve done LOTS of smart things over the years, and creating a distinctive brand personality is just one of many elements that contribute to their success.

Like I said up top, the observations and opinions here are based solely on my 15+ years of experience as a former ad agency employee, freelance marketing copywriter, DTC ecommerce product copywriter, and lover of brands with personality, and any dumb takes should be attributed to me, and not the sources and articles used to write this blog post.

Something else to note: I can’t be 100% sure about this, as I have no special insider knowledge about how Saddleback Leather operates, but the authenticity of the brand seems to come directly from Dave Munson and his personality, his unique backstory, and his family and their interests and causes.

**In other words, the brand personality feels genuine; it does not feel as if it was calculated or manufactured in some advertising agency conference room. (If you’ve ever worked in an agency, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 😊)**

While I know from the research I did they have relied on expert advice, it also feels to me that the Saddleback team operates authentically based on who they are and what they believe, and that comes through in their messaging and storytelling, which plays a big part in their success.


If you’ve paid any attention to how many brands sell products or services similar to yours, you know how critical it is to differentiate yourself among a sea of competitors, so you can build an audience of not just customers, but raving fans and brand evangelists.

If your company’s brand personality doesn’t connect emotionally with your ideal clients or customers in an authentic, impactful way, stop and think for a minute about the revenue you could be generating, but you’re not.

Sure, success is not all down to brand personality, BUT …

“Brand personality is a way to humanize your brand with relatable characteristics and clearly differentiate it in a crowded competitive landscape.”

👉 And differentiating yourself in a crowded, competitive landscape can make the difference between a “meh” brand that folks can take or leave, and one consumers love, buy from, and sing the praises of.

To circle back to something we covered way back at the beginning of this post:

When you make an emotional connection through communicating a distinctive, original brand personality, the right customers – and more of them – will want to do business with you.

That’s because “People purchase products because of a story, an emotional connection they feel with a brand.”

And they can’t feel that emotional connection with your brand if your marketing communications are lackluster, bland, and dull as dirt.

Final Words & Next Steps

:: If you want to take the DIY route, there are many solid resources to be found online with a quick Google search that will teach you how to develop a winning brand personality.

:: You can start this process by reading some of the articles I’ve linked up below in the “Sources” section, and by reviewing other brands who have successfully created a memorable brand personality in the Other Examples of Brand Personality” section below.  

OR …

:: You can hire an agency to do the work for you.

OR …

:: You can have one of your staff copywriters team up with the person in charge of your visual assets and punch up what you’ve already got, depending on your current situation.

**As a start, you could simply work on uncovering your “unique recipe,” and begin weaving that into your marketing communications everywhere your customers come into contact with your brand.**



:: If you want my free 5-part email course Web Copy That Converts, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com, with “Web Copy That Converts” in the subject line, and I’ll put you on the wait list and send it your way as soon as I get it finalized.

:: If you want to grab my free Website Copy & Conversion Audit Checklist, which is essentially the 5-part email course distilled down into a short checklist, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com, with “Web Copy Checklist” in the subject line, and I’ll send it over right away during normal business hours.

If you’d like to work together to punch up your copy, email me at kimberly (at) kimberlydhouston (dot) com and tell me about your project, or check out my services here.


Other Examples of Brand Personality

Want to check out some other examples of companies who do brand personality especially well?

Here’s a company whose branding guidelines I helped create at the last agency I worked for:


And here are some of my personal favorite brands with a distinctive personality:

Whiskey River Soap Co.

Hiut Denim

Oya Femtech Apparel

Title Nine

Tory Burch


Trader Joe’s

Dollar Shave Club

Other well-known examples of brand personality include: Nike, Patagonia, REI, Harley Davidson, Jeep, Volvo, Chanel, Apple and Rolex.


This is a list of sources I used to inform this article. Articles that were quoted or excerpted directly are linked within the article where those quotes or ideas appear.

How Dave Munson Started Saddleback Leather by Leveraging the Power of Storytelling (My Wife Quit Her Job podcast, episode 181)

With Just 2 Words, This CEO Has Leadership In The Bag (Forbes)

Dave Munson and the Coolest Bag Ever (Shoptalk Magazine)

Dave Munson from Saddleback Leather – (eCommerce Fuel) Here Dave talks about the personality of the brand, maintaining the voice of the company, and best of all, his approach to marketing

How To Create A Legendary Brand Through Quality with David Munson (Mike Dillard’s Self Made Man YouTube Channel)

Building a High-Quality Leather Bag Brand (Trep Talks)

Brand Personality: How to Build a More Human Brand (Ignyte – A Branding Agency)

Ecommerce Branding: 11 Examples and 27 Expert Tips to Help Build Your Brand Online (Big Commerce)

How to Write a Great Value Proposition [7 Top Examples + Template] (Hubspot)

Here are some other resources you may find helpful on the topic of differentiation and / or brand personality and brand voice. While I did not quote or excerpt these directly, I read them in the process of doing background research for this article:

Differentiation strategy: what it is, why it’s critical, and how to get it right (CXL)

How to Build a Big Brand Voice (Copyhackers)

Brand Personality: Definition, Examples, and How to Define Yours (The Branding Journal)

What is a Brand Personality, According to Marketers Who’ve Developed Them (Hubspot)

Ignyte Brands is a wonderful resource for all things branding, and I read several of their blog articles in the course of researching this article:

The Power of Copywriting in Branding

How to Discover Your Authentic Brand Voice

How to Define a Brand Voice to Set Your Business Apart


  1. I read 20 – 40 blogpost per week.
    98% are vanilla.
    Kimberly’s post, here, makes me crave the punch of rum raisin.

    Simply stated, this post is a deep, smart and value-add masterpiece on branding, websites and marketing.

    Kudos, Kimberly!
    Excellent research.
    Sensational edutainment.

    • Thanks Erik, so kind & generous of you to say these things! I might have to share this comment on LinkedIn to see if I can get some more readers over here. 🙂

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