The product strategy for many digitally-native brands today is borderline formulaic: Pick a category that has big margins, bypass wholesale—at least to start—and sell a somewhat generic product at a price point that undercuts other premium and luxury brands.

Starting with a single product is a crucial part of this formula. AllBirds’ runner, Away’s carry on, Dollar Shave Club’s razor and Bonobos’ men’s pant all fall into this category—the list goes on and on. The single product launch is logical on the surface: Cash is tight and brands want to iterate quickly. Steve Jobs’ mantra—making a small number of SKUs perfectly rather than a large number averagely—echoes in the heads of founders.

This approach also stems from a big downside of the wholesale era. One of the challenges for wholesale-driven brands is that wholesale channels often require them to produce a wide range of products, even if the brand was not ready or able to do so. Wholesale buyers like to buy collections that fully manifest a designer’s world, which leads to ballooning product development and likely too much inventory left over at the end of the season, since shoppers don’t usually want the entire range of products offered. For some brands this is a bump in the road, for others it could mean bankruptcy from spreading themselves too thin.

Selling direct-to-consumer, however, allows a brand to start with a single product, which mitigates some of the risks of over-development typical of wholesale. But the single-product approach is also largely unproven at scale. When a company launches this way, it sells a product—not a brand. At the same time, a single-product company that desires to become a brand needs to diversify its products over time to maintain interest and evolve with the market. The caveat is that few of the single-product based companies mentioned above or others that have followed in the same path have been able to build lasting brands with a wide assortment of product categories.

One of the biggest reasons for this conundrum is that Amazon’s scale has turned many traditional brands into commodity product companies, which can only grow by competing on price. This creates the famous race to the bottom—a fight for growth and relevance that often entails deserting brand values and price floors, even though these self-imposed limitations made the brand powerful in the first place. As stand-alone products become commodities, competition often appears from all sides before a company has time for its brand to gain a footing. The Away vs. AmazonBasics luggage fight exemplifies this tension.

Something else to consider is how much brand equity is required to successfully build a brand from a single product. Brands have staying power because they take an action (purchasing a product) and turn it into allegiance to a hard-to-define entity that happens to sell products (a brand). Of course, no one buys anything from a brand because they need that particular item—there are surely good-enough $50 suitcases that fulfill the same fundamental purpose as Away’s $295 version or Rimowa’s $995 version. Rather, a customer chooses Away or Rimowa because they like the design, function, brand association or some other trait linked to the brand itself.

With this in mind, for companies like Away that are adding products very slowly, how can they make the transition from product company to brand? If a company raises a significant amount of money to take marketing and scaling shortcuts, but only releases one or two products a year, is it—contrary to how it might rationalize its strategy as one that will build a cogent brand—actually slowing itself down because it’s hard to build a brand around a single product?

Possibly the best test to differentiate a product company and a brand is what happens without digital marketing—the tool of choice for digitally-native brands, which spend heavily on Facebook, Google and other ad networks to drive sales. If these brands turned off their marketing, either by choice or by force—as Nasty Gal did when it had to cut spending after running out of money—what happens next indicates the power of the brand itself. For many, without the constant, paid demand generation coming through the door, sales will likely evaporate. But for lasting brands, the impact is much subtler, as customers who have existing affinities continue buying as long as new products exist and maintain relevance.

Inherent to this idea are questions about what product and brand development speed means today. Fast fashion product development moves so quickly—often transpiring over only a few weeks to get a product in stores and even less time until it sells out—while digitally-native brands operate much slower in comparison, from both a product development and sell-out perspective. It’s quite possible that both the fast fashion and digitally-native approach will relegate both types of companies as product companies, rather than brands. This has implications for the entire consumer ecosystem—it might be time to throw both existing formulas out the window for those looking to build something that lasts.