This Instagram Account Wants to Add ‘Cleaning Brand Designer’ to Your Resume

published Mar 13, 2019
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(Image credit: Photo: Shutterstock, Design: Apartment Therapy)

NBD wants to be the next big cleaning brand. But right now, NBD is literally no big deal—because it doesn’t exist yet.

If you search this startup cleaning brand’s name, the first page is all unrelated results like one from Urban Dictionary that defines the internet acronym NBD as “no big deal.” Even if you’re in the know, and type “P&G NBD” into the search bar, you’ll find an avalanche of news articles like this one from August 2018, about the request that consumer product giant Proctor & Gamble filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last April to register acronyms like “WTF,” “LOL,” “FML,” and “NBD” as protected trademarks within the class of cleaning products.

Even though the trademark filing made a splash, NBD the brand so far has barely made a ripple. The @nbdclean Instagram account, at the time of this writing, has just 183 followers.

This is the part of the article where I should try and explain to you what “NBD Clean” actually is, but truthfully I don’t know. It’s… an idea? A brand. It has a name, obviously, but it’s clear after a few conversations with people at P&G that there’s really not much else about NBD that’s been cemented. They’re hoping that you—the person reading this right now—will help them figure that out.

The hub of this project is that Instagram account, @nbdclean, where P&G Home Care Innovation Designer Jessica Stoll is, at this moment, busy posting pictures, asking questions, and answering comments about the brand. NBD is Stoll’s pet project, born from a conversation at a lunch table roughly one year ago, when she and a chemist coworker talked about social media and their perceptions of how millennials don’t really like to clean, and that cleaning is no big deal… NBD, she told me. Because Stoll’s job is to innovate home care products, that conversation evolved into a pitch: Let’s start a cleaning brand where the consumers decide everything.

“We really want to build the brand together, and let people come along the journey,” she said. “It’s not dissimilar from the way we would build the brand internally, or how I’m sure many brands get built. A lot of them just don’t show all of the process.”

Here’s how they’re hoping it will look: You follow @nbdclean on Instagram, where Stoll will ask questions and request feedback about what you look for in a cleaning brand. At some point down the line, there will be firm decisions to be made, and polls to be answered. And eventually, the results of those Instagram polls will become P&G’s latest line of cleaning products. Stoll said they’re first looking to nail down decisions about what cleaning categories and products to start with, probably in the next month or so.

“I think what we want first and foremost, is to talk about products and what people really need to clean in their homes,” said Stoll. “Is it that you want a hand soap, or a dish soap? Do you want wipes? What are the things that you really want to be able to clean quickly and effectively?”

Once they figure out the what behind NBD, they’ll need your help deciding how it should look, and smell, and what it should come packaged in. Even down to the chemistry and ingredients: “What kind of properties or criteria do you have for the product that you want to buy?,” Stoll said. “Is it natural?”

The process “will all be very tangible,” Stoll explained. If NBD’s followers vote to choose the logo one week, the next week when it’s time to mock up packaging, you’re going to see the logo you voted for on that design. “We’re working in real time that quickly,” she said. “So people can see their feedback in action almost immediately.”

What NBD has that other cleaning startups don’t is the support and resources of a multi-billion dollar company. The team working on NBD right now is small, with three people at the focus, but there’s a larger innovation strategy group at P&G ready to lend their expertise on any subject. “There are all these helping hands around as I’m needing to do research, or get some photography equipment, or whatever it may be,” Stoll said. “Everyone is excited about it, and is willing to help, giving some of their spare time, and we’re trying to share as much learning as possible.”

The resources at P&G are also going to make it easy to manufacture and distribute product, on a large or small scale, whenever that time comes. “We can have a team of three people, and use all of the capabilities we have, to actually get people products in the near future,” Stoll said. “We can do these small scale batches, and we can get people to test them, and give us their feedback in the hundreds, and we can launch and sell in the thousands very quickly.”

As I spoke with Stoll, and as I’m here writing this now, it was hard not to lean back and sigh… but what is it? The whole point is that we don’t know. Nobody knows.

“We don’t have any predictions, which is kind of mind-opening as well,” said Wendy Kennedy, Communication Manager for P&G Home Care. “We’re not going in with any set agenda. No favorites.”

“At P&G, people really got excited when Jessica brought this idea forward,” she said. “Let’s build a brand that is designed by the audience we’re trying to reach. Designed for them and by them. And I think that we’re open to wherever this takes us.”