Support Your Killer Products with Great Branding

July 24, 2018

You’ve got killer products, no doubt. Anglers and paddlers appreciate the quality and performance they’ve come to expect from your company.

But is your brand working as hard as it could? Are you spreading the word about those amazing products? Does your brand stand out? Or are you buried in your competitors’ wake?

In the fishing and paddling industries, there are many companies angling — pun intended — for the same consumer dollars. Creating and cultivating an authentic, unique brand is critical to your success. That means shaping an authentic story that inspires enthusiasts to engage with your brand, using stunning visuals that virtually transport customers right out onto the water, and getting them so excited that they tell their friends about you.

That, and your killer products.

Why Branding Matters

Branding is essential in the fishing and paddlesports industries because these are discretionary purchases — a new fly rod or board isn’t one of life’s essentials; it represents a passion. Consumers want to align themselves with their sport and feel part of a community of enthusiasts. A well-developed brand turns one-off buyers into loyal advocates who purchase the fly rod or board … plus all the extras that go with it.

In our markets, brands aren’t just logos; they’re badges of honor. Users will buy a fishing reel and also wear the hat and the shirt to feel and broadcast that they’re part of something bigger: a sport they love.

So how do you know if your brand isn’t working as hard as it could?

1) Poor repeat sales — customers buy once from you, but they don’t feel connected enough to buy again.

2) Lack of crossover — if one product category is selling well but others aren’t, customers may be purchasing a core item from you but going elsewhere for complementary gear and apparel.

3) Stagnant growth — you’re probably not reaching beyond your existing base to attract new enthusiasts to your brand.

4) Lack of community engagement — look at your social media activity. Are folks commenting on and sharing your posts? Are they tagging you when they share their own adventures?

A brand audit that evaluates your full suite of communications — one of the first steps we take in working with a new client — will reveal hits and misses.

Elements of a Powerful Brand

A great story. A powerful story is important for painting the backdrop for your products. How your company started, the vision behind your products, the passion you and your team bring to the sport, and the ways you participate yourselves — it’s all part of your brand story that builds over time. In our business, a product without a backstory doesn’t resonate with outdoor enthusiasts.

For an example of a great brand story, check out Hatch Outdoors. They do a super job online and in print talking about why they’re passionate about the outdoors.

The right aesthetic. You need to package your story with visuals that support and expand upon it. That means having a look and feel that’s polished and consistent. Sure, you can project a laid-back vibe, but remember that folks are spending serious dollars to buy your stuff, so keep it professional. Great photography that captures the way real people get out and use your products is essential in telling your story and building a lifestyle around your brand. Pay attention to your brand identity: Is it something your customers will proudly wear on ball caps and T-shirts?

A network. A great story framed by the right aesthetic makes people feel connected and gets them talking. How often do you chat with friends and family about your sport, or tell your buddy about a great new product you’ve used? (We know: ALL the time!) Devoted users will spread the word about your brand.

We look at Yeti as a great example of an outdoor brand with a strong network. They’ve turned buckets and coolers — expensive ones! — into a lifestyle. See how they work with their brand ambassadors across a range of sports and activities.

Your brand is a foundational part of the modern marketing ecosystem — it underpins everything from your website to your inbound and outbound marketing campaigns to your logo to your social engagement.

You’ve got the killer products. We can help you with the rest.

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