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  • Two Things | CaseStudy | Plenty

    Plenty, a technology driven company, approached us for the launch of their first consumer brand, one powered by AI-driven vertical farms that produce fresh, nutrient dense produce in urban areas. While conventional fruits and vegetables are grown to last long transportation times from the farm to the distribution center to the grocer to the table; Plenty takes the opposite approach with an emphasis on technology and a short transportation footprint. While convention dictates that toughness, durability for long journeys, and pesticides are needed, Plenty’s products are engineered for taste and nutrition first. ​ The challenge was the first product coming off the line was…lettuce. How does one position a new brand and better yet convince consumers that any lettuce was delicious and nutritious? What could AI, vertical farming, and music festivals all have in common? Lettuce dive in and show you (romaine calm, it’s only a pun). But the approach they pioneered—sponsoring the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes—is no longer as own-able or relevant as it once was. Client // Plenty Assignment // Brand Strategy, Mobile App Design and Development, Event and Campaign Development, UX Design, Chat Interface, Product Marketing Building a brand from the ground up - roots and all. What they need today, is a new chapter in their story. One that is true to their adventurous spirit. But can speak to a broader, wider, more diverse audience. Strategically, we focused on the cultural, consumer, and company landscapes to inform our positioning. Beyond the strategy, the brand needed a core identity, web design, and hook to grab an audience. Through our research, we uncovered that trial through taste could be the unconventional tipping point for Plenty instead of a traditional advertising and PR launch. Our creative brief yielded a go-to-market plan based on driving trials in unexpected locations - think music festivals, art fairs, and other outdoor gatherings. The customer journey was defined from trial to loyalty and hyper localized on a city-by-city roll out (with a model for future scale). A frictionless chat interface via SMS allowed those who sampled the greens at events to flow through the DTC pipeline, begin a subscription, and develop a deeper relationship with the brand. Moving quickly, pivoting often, and staying nimble, our collaboration with the Plenty team used quick sprints to ideate and validate in markets in real time, yielding lasting results for the company.

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Active Life & Silicon Valley

    What Active Lifestyle Brands Can Learn from Silicon Valley By Paulo Ribeiro What does startup land have to teach brands way over in the active lifestyle space? Not everything. Not even most things, but there are a few really powerful ideas that if applied correctly can help a sleepy brand wake the hell up. FINDING PRODUCT-MARKET FIT In THIS classic post Marc Andreessen explains this fundamental concept and why it is so powerful for startups and particularly software companies. I’ve spent almost half of my career working in Silicon Valley and the other half working in very different business cultures (NY and PDX). But, there is much more to learn from one another than you might think at first… Generally Silicon Valley marketers don't understand brand strategy. Here comes the hate mail. As a pool they have depth in growth marketing, performance marketing, product marketing. All of the technical specialties are table-stakes, but they don’t really understand brand strategy as a group. Related: Marketing is often confused with Advertising as this post highlights. [Buried in the comments Seth sets the brand position straight] There is an amazing contrast of technical sophistication in SV with a lack of understanding of the creative arts. But, I digress. That isn’t the topic of this post. Most of the active lifestyle brands we’ve worked with found product-market fit decades ago. They don’t talk about it that way. But finding product market fit was a challenge that preceded the current crop of employees. Borrowing this notion can provide an incredibly helpful strategic framework for evolving their customer base and entering new markets. So many marketing briefs start from the assumption that the tactics are fixed, and maybe even the audience is fixed, so the only thing we can play with is the message. Which is crazy of course. But sadly it is the norm. Just because the core business operates one way doesn’t mean that each product line needs to go to market the same way. This is where the framework of Product-Market fit is super useful. Think of the market you are targeting as a ‘use case’ that can be defined by an audience and a behavior. And think of your product as the way you choose to serve that use case. By thinking about these as two variables the strategic playing field opens up significantly. But you have to tackle each of those assignments with clarity. Know which is which and play with each. Each of these two variables create opportunities to change the target audience definitions, the channels and tactics the creative briefs that generate new ideas. All it requires is borrowing a bit of wisdom from Silicon Valley. I said a ‘bit of wisdom’ they have blind spots too. 😉 CUSTOMERS VS. TARGETS These are two totally different things. We need to stop confusing them. As a marketer you should have a clear understanding of who your buying customers are. This might vary by business unit, product line and channel. There are so many tools at your disposal to paint a picture of who is buying your product via each channel whether direct or through retail partnerships, whether IRL or URL. The audience(s) that your marketing targets should also be clearly defined even if a significant portion of your spend is programmatic or performance in nature. If your customer and your target are thought of as the same thing internally, then good job! You’ve captured the Total Addressable Market and you aren’t needed any longer. Thank you for your service. I’m kidding of course but it's shocking how often this basic distinction is confused. The relationship between these two profiles are huge levers for marketing. Are they the same types of people? Are they vastly different? What is the relationship between the customers you have and the audience you wish to serve? What is the profile of someone who experiments and drives trial? What is the behavior of a loyal customer? If you don’t know then start your work with questions like these. Define hypotheses and test them. You’ll find that almost everything stems from starting to paint this picture. It's totally and completely cliche up and down the San Francisco Peninsula to talk about how many failed ventures entrepreneurs have been a part of. Why? Because of the widely held belief that you need to go big and if you fail then you LEARNED. It's so widespread that it has become a boring introduction up and down the SF peninsula. Baked inside of that overused backhanded compliment however, is a way of operating that many in the outdoor industry ignore thinking everything has been established. The weird thing is that this is not at all how many of their founders operated. Dave Lane and Jeremy Guard knew nothing about waterproofing jackets when they started Rock Solid Manufacturing in 1989. They just knew there was a better way to make a harness. Nor did they know the 140-million year old fossil that inspired their name change and logo (Arc’teryx) would become one of the most recognizable icons in outdoor gear—synonymous with quality and caliber. Yvonne Chouinard didn’t know much about business, in fact, he just wanted to find a way to keep adventuring . After setting up a blacksmith shop in 1957, Chouinard’s hand-made pitons quickly caught on like wildfire in the climbing communities. But in early 1989, the company—Chouinard Equipment—filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the assets of the company were purchased by former employees…eventually forming Black Diamond Equipment . And Chouinard? Well, he kept climbing…so much so that after a trip to Scotland in 1970, he realized there was an appetite for high-quality clothing for climbers. And then one inspirational trip down to Argentina with the future The North Face founder and best friend Doug Thompkins, Patagonia was born. Roy and Ryan Seiders didn’t know their coolers would upend the market, they first wanted to build cool fishing rods and custom, aluminum fishing boats so they could keep doing what they loved outdoors. Instead, they found themselves frustrated with the cooler options available and sought to build the best, most rugged, protective cooler out there. Hello, Yeti . THIS Is a good example of embracing experimentation and failure today. We know for a fact that Nike has applied lessons learned from experiments like this to their subscription strategies. CELEBRATING FAILURE Flirting with failure is core to many active lifestyle brands’ origin. It should be core to their marketing strategies as well. TAKING RISKS Which is of course related to celebrating failure. Co-labs have become the default method of driving news for brands in this space. And no doubt there have been some really fantastic and unexpected ones Nike X Tiffany’s is a great example. But this is classic borrowed interest strategy. Which is not dissimilar from casting celebrities that come with their own followings in advertising. It works, but it's short lived. It drives quick hype and then it's over. REI put climbing walls in their stores over 20 years ago . Nike pushed virtual shoe drops starting in 2016. After the pandemic shutdowns we have an opportunity to reinvent how brands meet customers. Who will take the next leap to stand out from the herd? [Buried in the comments Seth sets the brand position straight] If your customer and your target are thought of as the same thing internally, then good job! You’ve captured the Total Addressable Market and you aren’t needed any longer. Flirting with failure is core to many active lifestyle brands’ origin. It should be core to their marketing strategies as well. back to insights → [Buried in the comments Seth sets the brand position straight]

  • Two Things | CaseStudy | Novella

    Most of the energy in the market today comes from big, iconic sneaker brands doing limited edition drops and generic collaborations with other established brands or artists. It’s an approach badly in need of a refresh. Client // Novella Assignment // Research & Insights, Brand Strategy, Global Advertising Campaign, Photography, Film, Global Messaging and Campaign Toolkit Designing a footwear company from the ground up. Sneakers are a 100 billion dollar market worldwide. In recent years, there has been a tidal wave of Instagram DTC starts trying to tap into this burgeoning market. For most, the story has been exactly the same: high craftsmanship at a lower price. Beautiful but boring. This started to bug us and drove us to find another way. We realized that the formula for these launches was basically all SNEAKER, no BACKSTORY. Which got us wondering, what would happen if we flipped this model? What if we turned a shoe brand into a storyteller? From this, Novella was born. Novella was born in the depths of the pandemic. Amidst the darkness, we tried to find light. Not just through the creation of our shoes. But through the stories of these uncommon artisans. And all the joy and inspiration they were putting out into the world. At a time when we needed it most. In recent years, there has been a tidal wave of Instagram DTC starts trying to tap into this burgeoning market. For most, the story has been exactly the same: high craftsmanship at a lower price. Beautiful but boring. Today, we exist to tell their stories. Each drop, we’ll take a blank canvass and transform it into a beautiful human story. About a barber or poet or comedian or chef. Extraordinary creators who inspire joy through craft. Every detail of the shoe (accents, colors, materials) will be carefully considered to tell their story. See more at novella2020.com

  • Creative Strategy Agency for Outdoor and Active Lifestyle Brands

    We develop the creative Go-To-Market strategies for Active Lifestyle brands that need something fresh. The Transformation Agency for Active Lifestyle Brands Clients approach us when they need to launch a new product , connect with a new audience or because their marketing has become stale . ​ We start upstream, do our own research and work systematically through the strategy to concept development and onto the rollout plan. We develop the creative Go-To-Market strategies for Active Lifestyle brands that need something fresh. The Transformation Agency for Active Lifestyle Brands Clients approach us when they need to launch a new product , connect with a new audience or because their marketing has become stale . ​ We start upstream, do our own research and work systematically through the strategy to concept development and onto the rollout plan. start a conversation → working with us →

  • Two Things | CaseStudy | Visit Sun Valley Stay Sunny

    We started with a simple call-to-action (STAY SUNNY) that reflected the optimistic spirit of the Valley. But we also needed a voice that, like the locals, felt honest and to the point. Conceptually, we thought of it as a secret society that anyone could be a part of (assuming they were kind and respectful). Sun Valley, Idaho is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. For years it has existed in relative obscurity. But the approach they pioneered—sponsoring the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes—is no longer as own-able or relevant as it once was. This all changed with the pandemic. Almost overnight, Sun Valley became the place to be. Tourists flooded the valley in droves. And the locals tasked with satisfying the needs of these visitors became, in a word, overwhelmed. Client // Visit Sun Valley Assignment // Brand Strategy, Board Advisory, Campaign Design, Experiential Design, Brand Identity and Messaging, Non-Traditional Media, Measurement Strategy and Metrics Evolving a Destination Brand from Awareness to 360° Marketing. The biggest problem this onslaught of tourism brought to town was, to put it bluntly, assholery: disrespect towards staff, disregard for locals, aggressive driving, littering, and jumping lines. What was needed, we decided, was a campaign that reminded visitors how things are done in the Valley. To date, virtually every piece of communication has been delivered through non-traditional media, i.e., chalked sidewalks, construction site plywood, murals, bumper stickers, viewfinders. The medium truly has been the message. ​ The money saved from not doing a traditional media buy has freed us up to do more local collabs and to execute all production locally. Every execution supports the local community in some way. Each creative piece was informed by what we call a pain point, i.e., specific time or place where tourists were being insufferable. We wrote lines (or messages) encouraging them to stop. But took care not to castigate them. That just felt mean. Humor, we learned, was the most effective way of connecting with others (whether they're locals or not). ​ Around town our voice shifted depending on where you were and what offense (if any) was being committed. So, for example, as people entered town, we welcomed them with a wave and a smile. Alternatively, when people were being jerks on the bike trail, we gave them the business.

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Include the Critics

    Include the Critics, Naysayers and Roadblocks in the Process By Paulo Ribeiro Why it never works to build a marketing strategy and get other departments to buy-in later. We often get approached by an executive or department who wants to use our strategic expertise as leverage to convince another department to change how they Go To Market. The conversation will start with a breakdown of the business opportunity which is where things should start. But eventually the real friction will become clear. There is another department or leader who has different priorities or doesn’t see things the same way. Sometimes we’ll hear about it during the onboarding conversations or discovery but by the time we get to stakeholder conversations it will become clear that there isn’t internal alignment. To be clear, a lack of alignment by itself isn’t necessarily a problem. If managed productively it can be a strength in that different leaders have access to different data and priorities which can become the roots of a powerful new strategy. We absolutely NEED those tensions to get to a new strategy. But that is a different post. This post is about the doomed to fail assumption that we can develop the strategy in a silo and it is going to be so damn smart that the rest of the company will get onboard. We’ll unfurl the deck and they’ll follow the Piper because of the sheer genius of the ideas. They’ll see how thorough our collective work is and that will drive alignment and the company can move forward. Cue the end credits. That never works. back to insights → This assumption is almost always well intentioned. It is also almost always wrong. It is wrong because it assumes that what needs to happen is to convince another leader or department. A great brand strategy works across departments which means it needs to be aware of the challenges facing each department. I’m not writing this post to talk about how to make the work a treaty between departments. I’m writing this to dispel the idea that the marketing team, or product team or design leadership alone can figure out a new way forward and then deliver it to the other departments needed to implement it. Great strategy isn’t a compromise. Great strategy is aware of each of the stakeholders needs and finds a solution that will benefit the whole company because it solves problems in the order that they need to be solved. Often that means that one department’s priorities will need to wait in order for a more acute problem to be solved. That is how great teams function and you don’t get this kind of buy-in without including everyone with a stake in the decision. A few rules we operate by: A representative from each department that is critical to bringing a solution to life needs to be involved at each milestone. Disagreements need to be surfaced with all the relevant context. Lean into the uncomfortable because you might learn something. Don’t avoid it. We don’t move forward until there is commitment cross-functionally. BTW, disagreement is fine. But when a decision is made to proceed there needs to be universal commitment. Change in how a company Goes to Market requires cross-functional buy-in. Not after the ideas have been developed, but early.

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Unsettled Marketing Terrain

    The Terrain is Unsettled and Varied By Paulo Ribeiro Generating smart ideas is *not* the hardest part of developing effective work. BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS AREN'T THE HARD PART Less than 20 years ago the line between the responsibilities of an outside agency and a client’s marketing organization were crystal clear. Client-side marketing handled marketing strategy, brief development, high-level budget allocation and often measurement. Their products were sold through very established channels (dealerships for cars, wholesale and to a lesser extent owned retail for apparel and shoes, Sports speciality and wholesale retail for equipment etc…). Even as e-commerce was starting to become the force it is today, channels were generally added one at a time. What a client paid agencies to do vs. what was executed in house was very consistent. Agencies handled all brand strategy, all varieties of creative development from identity to Super Bowl Spots, Event production, and agencies handled PR strategy and media planning and buying. Anything that fell under the umbrella of creative strategy, ideation or production was handled by an agency. And now? All of those agency formats continue to exist in some iteration, and there has been an explosion of additional specializations in e-Commerce, measurement, social, performance marketing, UX and IxD and on and on. While at the same time clients have brought many of the same disciplines in house to some degree. But there is no consistency to how and why. Internal creative capabilities on the client side are driven by the nuances of their individual industry, the inclinations of their leadership or sometimes for random legacy reasons. And then the vast majority also employ agencies to finish, up-level or supplement the work that they do in house. The Terrain is varied, uneven, and often difficult to map out. This has serious implications for how to make effective work. Generating smart ideas, as difficult as that is, is not the hardest part of developing effective work. The hardest part today is understanding the landscape of how that work might be made - outside, inside or shared - and developing customized work and Go To Market plans with that in mind upfront. Too often this upfront step is skipped which wastes everyone’s time (and client’s money). To be clear there is a huge difference between being an order taker and asking the client what solution they would like and giving them what they asked for and taking the time to really understand the landscape and come back with an innovative solution. The former isn’t strategic and is a watchout for any client who wants to do effective work. The first job today should be canvassing the playing field of capabilities, needs and expectations and mapping that overtly to the team setup on both the in-house client side and the outside partners. The moment is going to happen one way or another. Make that moment happen earlier and there is a greater chance for success overall. Wait to figure out what the playing field is, and one side of the equation is going to look irresponsible. I’ll let you guess which one. It starts with a messy playing field… Agencies are used to sharing creds and case studies. And clients, with the seniority to hire, are generally well-trained marketers but the truth of the matter is that they are slammed with an ever growing list of responsibilities. They don’t usually have the time to dig into whether or not the exact setup of an agency is a good key for the lock that is their specific needs. So they look at finished work, think to themselves “I want something like that’ and hope that their team’s can sort it out on the same timeline that the ideas are generated and produced. …Unclear responsibilities hurt the work quality… With creatives and strategists on the agency side and client side and a shared desire for everyone to ‘partner’ the line between idea generator and editor of ideas moves around. The client team’s bounce between being creatives and clients sometimes in the same meeting which is unfair to them and everyone involved. Both teams can lose motivation, while the work becomes a slog for all involved. Too bad. With clarity on process upfront: 1+1=3+, without it...well 1-1=0. …and ends with all that money spent on strategy and ideas being wasted. How often have you been in a meeting where good ideas from pages 20 through 87 of a presentation are completely ignored? Assuming the agency is solid and isn’t throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks, this is usually because the client’s are thinking: “That’s ambitious. We don’t have time to figure out how to make that thing with everything else we have on our plates. So we’ll compliment their clever thinking and just hope they don’t follow up.” The client is paying the agency to painstakingly develop new work but rarely do the teams talk about process in creative meetings because it's ‘not creative’, we’ll handle that in ‘production’. Marketing capabilities vary tremendously across client organizations. There is absolutely no consistency between what is in-house vs. outsourced in large companies. Developing breakthrough ideas is the easy part. Tailoring ideas to the unique shape of a client’s organization is where the real work is done. back to insights → The problem is that without that discussion upfront the vast majority of that work will ‘make a great meeting’ and never see the light of day. How creative is that?

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Two Things New Direction

    Two Things is Doubling Down By Paulo Ribeiro Our approach to brand transformation has worked in multiple categories but, we are choosing to focus primarily on the active lifestyle space and audience. Two Things Inc started up in 2018. The agency was founded as a vehicle to combine a deep strategy process with a creative culture to help clients evolve how they go to market. We’ve operated as a creative consultancy with a goal of breaking down the wall between product experience and marketing experience. Along the way we’ve worked with clients in the entertainment, sports, outdoor, transportation, gaming, food, and retail industries. We’ve been trusted to develop strategies to transform how those brands go to market. To bring those strategies to life we’ve helped our clients reimagine advertising campaigns, mobile UX, created new to the world 3D creation tools, conversational interfaces, tik-tok campaigns, reimagined media plans, built websites and designed research methodologies to measure effectiveness. In two instances we’ve breathed life into entirely new businesses. We are proud of the work we’ve created together with our clients. We’ve learned and grown with each engagement. But TBH, too often we’ve had to learn on the job. There is a significant difference between the assignments we’ve explored with our clients and the assignments where our expertise led the way. Going forward, we are going to focus all of our energy on what we know inside and out. 1. We are experts at designing new ways for our clients to Go To Market. We shine when helping our clients evolve how they Go To Market whether the need is driven by launching a new product, a desire to connect with new audiences or markets, or for any reason that requires building new creative muscles. We are at our best when designing the strategy and creative concepts to evolve how a brand is experienced. We think hard about the business context, and also how the work will be made. We develop creative ideas to stand out from the noise in terms of their format AND their message. The fact that we consider the execution in our strategy work does NOT mean we need to be the ones making all the work. In many cases there are teams that are better at the craft of producing work (even if our clients are more comfortable working with us). So we are going to focus our attention on the moment of change and the systems to bring that work to life over time. ​ 2. We are creative people which means we can get distracted or curious about many different categories, but expertise comes from deep experience. We’ve had the honor of working with brands like The North Face, arc’teryx, Converse, Timberland, Visit Sun Valley, Nike and others on some of their most mission critical projects. This has given us depth of experience with the active lifestyle consumer that they target. So we are choosing to focus our work in the active lifestyle category. Going forward Brand Transformation for Active Lifestyle Brands will be the agency's focus. This is a mission for us. Too many brands in this space have marketing that is stuck in the past. Sure, there are players like Nike that are constantly re-writing the brand playbook. But brand’s that are innovating in this space are the exception, not the rule. So much of the work is sleepy and backward looking, reinforcing historical brand equity but not doing a great job of reaching out to wider audiences. This may not be a popular opinion but it's true. It is a shame because us humans are at our best when we are connecting with other humans IRL. We need to shake up the category that is all about movement, outdoors and human connection. We’ll use all the modern tools of creativity to make this happen. Stay tuned for more from insights@twothings.co . back to insights →

  • Two Things | CaseStudy | The North Face: Discover Your Trail

    We call this audience, The Next Generation of Trail. They are an amalgamation of avid trail runners and hikers. Some run in pairs, others hike twenty deep. Some crush mountain trails, others stroll city parks. What unites them is their love for the trail. We set out to uncover, why. The North Face is legend in the outdoor adventure space. But the approach they pioneered—sponsoring the exploits of extreme outdoor athletes—is no longer as ownable or relevant as it once was. Client // The North Face: Discover Your Trail Assignment // Research & Insights, Brand Strategy, Global Advertising Campaign, Photography, Film, Global Messaging and Campaign Toolkit Authenticity and discovery on and off the trail. What they need today, is a new chapter in their story. One that is true to their adventurous spirit. But can speak to a broader, wider, more diverse audience. One of the first things the Next Gen taught us became the premise of our campaign; the idea there is a trail for everyone. And that whether you're a newbie or a trail junkie, a nature lover or a thrill seeker, if you get out there and keep trying you'll eventually discover your trail. Next Gen's love of trail differed greatly from motifs past. There was very little talk of testing limits or overcoming adversity. Instead, it was more about the trail making them feel whole and human. Or in other words, like a kid again. Out there in it, with their friends, enjoying the moment rather than fretting about the past or the future. ​ With the work, we wanted to tell real stories about real athletes. But, in the process, broaden the definition of what it means to be an outdoor athlete. So we focused our narrative lens on trail lovers that advertisers typically ignore: hike clubs, people of color, underrepresented communities, and people with different body types. These true stories of Next Gen trail lovers is only the beginning. In the months to come, we'll be exploring activations that actually help people discover their trail. In the meantime, thanks for listening and see you out there.

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Twitter v.s. X - Brand Value

    Brand X's and O's By Paulo Ribeiro X marks the unforced error. And, what can we learn from it? What the hell does this have to do with the Active Lifestyle Business? Nothing. And everything. This spectacular implosion has everyone talking about ‘Brand’ and this gives us an opportunity to break down what a powerful brand is (and isn’t). ​ From Linda Yaccarino, CEO of Twitter (really?!? Does anyone believe Elon’s ceded control of anything?): [Tweet from Linda Yaccarino] Um, ok…. First, let’s establish what we mean when we are talking about ‘brand’ An intentionally strategic focus that guides the services, experiences and messages from a company. The purpose of that strategic focus is to form an emotional connection in a consumer’s mind of what the brand’s values are. People align with brands that share their values. That emotional connection delivers real monetary value to the company. Actions speak louder than words (or images, no matter how well designed) Exhibit A: Many Nike sneakers and smaller brands are made in the same factories using the same materials with often very similar form factors. When the Nike sneaker is sold for $175 and a comparable Saucony sneaker (made in the same factory) goes for $105, that $70 difference is the real value of the Nike brand. The thing that makes the boneheaded Twitter to X shift so damn fascinating is that it was made by an absolutely legendary brand innovator: Elon Musk. Exhibit B: Every single move by brand Tesla, particularly in the early days, served as a master class in how to build a focused brand through consistent ACTIONS instead of through say advertising impression for example. Instead of car lots, Tesla’s were hyped in small ~1,000 sq foot footprints in malls. Forget test driving, many could barely hold a single car you could sit in. This yielded the amazing benefits of saving money on real estate and showing up in a completely differentiated way from the competition. Customers used iPad screens where they virtually designed their car, or signed up for a waitlist. Potential customers logging in from home had all the same tools and soon learned they didn’t even have to go to the mall. The waitlist highlighted scarcity (which is Luxury’s playbook to increase margins). They gave everyone on the waitlist sneak peaks and special content—allowing customers to feel special. And we all heard about it. The waitlist spawned rabid, vocal fans who snowballed the company’s marketing through word of mouth. They were not just buying a car, they bought into a movement. Elon as Founder leaned into even more audacious pursuits like designing the HyperLoop to ferry people between SF and LA in minutes and then gave away the plans (hello, PR mentions). He built a real rocket company, SpaceX, which generates endless PR, this in turn delivers credibility back to Tesla. The Tesla brand now has permission to enter into a range of businesses including some very expensive and technically complex ones such as home and corporate energy storage. All of this because of a singular brand focus: delivering the future of transportation. I could write for a month and not be able to adequately convey how good the bird logo is and how bad the X is. Full disclosure, I’m biased. My friend and former collaborator Martin Grasser Designed it. And Jack Dorsey co-signed with this. Agreed. Exhibit C: Twitter is a communication platform. A tweet is (was?) a short burst of information first 140 characters and over time added a bit of imagery and/or video. But always short, focused, timely communication flying around the internet. With this it's easy to see how that focused brand position provides permission to grow into sharing other types of timely information…or connections…or moving money. All of this focus was encapsulated in that elegant blue bird. Prof G estimates the current value being thrown away to be in the range of $10B (or more). Conversely, what is X? Well, it's everything they say. Right but what is it for? Everything. Ok, cool. When I need everything I’ll make sure to use that. For the next decade or so though, I’ll use products that have PROVEN their focus and expertise to me over time. I’ll make decisions faster where I don’t have to think too hard about their values or what they do well. In the outdoor arena brand identities (name, logo, etc…) like Patagonia and The North Face were intuitively appropriate (good enough for those demanding environments) AND over time they were imbued with meaning and carried that value. Dave Lane has a nice backstory about why the Dead Bird became arc’teryx’s logo. But he’ll be the first to say that they initially chose it as a logo because it was unlike anything in the market. But now… Well the dead bird is completely imbued with the credibility of intensely tested products with high design. Nike was an academic choice (and a bit obscure) choice when it came out, but it is now imbued with decades of performance and empowerment proof. Whereas, On Running’s proof of cushioning as good as running on air is more recent. In all cases these brands have value PRIMARILY because of the actions taken by the companies to prove their credibility in a focused way. And now, well let’s just say none of those organizations are dumb enough to throw that value away. A brand can launch with the advantage of a thoughtfully designed and wordsmithed brand identity and/or campaign (like the blue bird was for Twitter). But regardless of whether a brand got a headstart or not, the real value is created over time by consistency of actions. Brand equity is built and proven by a focused brand strategy. Recently, there hasn’t been any focus from the brand formerly known as Twitter. This will be fun to watch because if we all learn from mistakes, then we stand to learn quite a lot from a dumpster full of them. back to insights → [Retweet from Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square]

  • Brand Strategy Insights Blog | Urban vs. Rural Opportunity

    The Urban/Rural Boundary is the Opportunity By Paulo Ribeiro Cities hold a key to unlock the outdoors. Why is this massive opportunity so often ignored? So many of the brands we work with have a desire to be more inclusive. More and more frequently they have a stated mission to share the outdoors (and sport and breathing fresh air) with a wider group of people than those that have historically have had access. Corporate social responsibility is often behind this. Just as often it's straight up business that motivates: growing the size of the market a brand serves. This post isn’t going to get into litigating values. For the record we are supportive of both of those motivations. This post is focused on an opportunity the size of the Empire State building that is constantly missed. We’ve been asked to think a lot about how we might grow the audience and user base for multiple brands, in multiple categories with different brand histories, challenges and capabilities. All of this against a backdrop of the massive population growth of cities. For decades cities have been growing as a rebound from the growth of suburbs that the Boomers drove. While there has been a lot of noise recently about cities like NYC, SF and Chicago losing population in 2022 that is already starting to reverse with people coming back to offices (slowly). Los Angeles, San Jose, and Washington, DC all experienced migration gains in 2022. TL;DR, cities keep growing. The Gen Z and even Millennials are much more likely to be renters as compared to their parents and grandparents at the same age. They are less likely to own a car, or even have a driver’s license. Their work often involves staring at a screen for hours on end. The pitch to move their bodies during their downtime shouldn’t be that hard as evidenced by the radical growth in almost every sector of outdoor activity since the pandemic. If we really want to encourage movement and be inclusive in the outdoors. The most powerful tool we have is to rethink what the outdoors can be. What are the easy local “onramps” to the sports that are best done on massive fields or above 10,000 feet? So many heritage outdoor brands are stuck showcasing the most remote, world class edge of the world environments. Those spaces can inspire the hell out of many, but they are often disconnected from someone who hasn’t grown up in a culture of mountaineering (or skiing or insert any pursuit that requires travel and piles of expensive gear). When a brand exclusively leans into that world, the door is closed to starting a relationship with someone new to the space. Why are brands missing this? There is such a lack of creativity by active lifestyle brands in the places that have the biggest concentration of human beings: Cities! Most cities sprouted up because of their proximity to some amazing natural feature: The ocean, a river, a lush valley. And just because it started to fill up with buildings those features are still there if you know where to look. The biggest opportunity for outdoor brands is to create bridges to the outdoors and to start with what is at hand. [Mont Royal, Montreal] [Willamette River, Portland, Oregon] [The Hudson River Valley which leads to Manhattan Island] Creativity is the art of combining two things in an unexpected way: If your brand history is in climbing - what could you climb downtown? If you have retail outposts in cities - how can they become knowledge centers for what is within a few miles and accessible by public transportation? If you have a rugged brand what could you build in an urban area that lasts? How might you spend your brand dollars on improvement projects that last for decades rather than ads that last for days? When we talk about inclusion in the outdoor category the most potent way to think about it is by relooking at what we include as outdoor exploration. If we want people to move their bodies on a progression of challenges that might end up in the backcountry…then might we use our platforms physical (stores) and digital to help them start? EVO hotels are a rare example of experience innovation for active lifestyle brands as an urban outpost of trial and community. Please share examples of doing something (anything) innovative and we’ll be sure to compile and share. The city of LA set the bar really low with La Sombrita . If the bar is this low then what are you waiting for? Physical Retail locations might be the single most underutilized marketing tool. They are a literal toe-hold in the largest markets. These true stories of Next Gen trail lovers is only the beginning. In the months to come, we'll be exploring activations that actually help people discover their trail. In the meantime, thanks for listening and see you out there. back to insights →

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