Differentiating a Brand

There’s no shortage of brands trying to become established in the competitive outdoor community which contributes roughly $887 billion to the U.S. economy. Even with quality products with game changing technology that meet specific needs, it is difficult for companies to differentiate themselves.

There are always learnings to be gained from studying the success stories and methods of those who have established a brand successfully. Here are a few crucial things that companies have executed well, paving the way to their success.

Person in front of mountains

Performance, Functionality and Authenticity Come First

We’ll take a look at fashion a little later, but the most important criteria for building a successful outdoor brand is having performance functionality and authenticity. Whether it’s apparel or hard goods, these three attributes are critical. You can’t fake authenticity. Some have tried and have failed miserably.

Tailoring Marketing to Match Consumer Profiles

Not all consumers understand the language that describes outdoor technologies. For consumers new to the outdoors, it is important from them to have a solid grasp of features and benefits so he or she can make the right purchase decision.

One of the great assets of this industry is the abundance of technologies available at different prices points. Gore-Tex or PrimaLoft will appeal to a particular consumer, but may not resonate with other consumers. Having a wide range of products available for different skill levels increases the chance of success.

There are brands that will position themselves at the top of the pyramid, while others will target more mainstream consumers. Understanding your lane is important — don’t try to be everything to everybody.

Man skiing down a hill
Style Comes After Performance, Functionality and Authenticity

Style is becoming increasingly important in the outdoor category, as the definition of the outdoor experience is expanding and becoming more inclusive of every day outdoor activities, such as walking down Fifth Avenue, watching a weekend soccer game, or hiking in an urban park. Consumers want to look great, but also want to be warm and not look like the Pillsbury Dough boy. It is easy to say how far fashion has infiltrated the world of outdoor and will continue to do so. But performance must be first.

Technology, such as synthetic insulations, and state- of- the- art waterproof zippers are playing an increasingly important role in style.

The best styles will incorporate these best in class technologies with looks that easily transition from the trail to the gym to the local dive bar. In apparel, silhouettes are becoming slimmer and lighter, with more urban detailing taking hold. In gear, sleek, compact equipment profiles are top of mind that can be easily transported, set up and stowed.

Identifying The Company’s Voice

When it comes to marketing, a successful company needs to have a consistent and authentic voice. Before even considering the specific type of content to release, a company first needs to figure out its identity.

A powerful voice can be used to craft narratives, inform audiences, and connect with potential customers. With this in mind, a company should develop their voice out of an understanding of the history, mission, and goals of their organization. Whether it’s across social media platforms or on any other content-releasing mediums, the tone and attitude of a brand should be consistent, identifiable, and authentic.

Every single company has a unique, authentic voice; the challenge lies in locating it.

A microphone
There is no one blueprint for establishing a brand in the outdoor space, but there are certainly best practices that have been executing, resulting in success. The industry will continue to be competitive. Having that consistent voice, combined with a point of difference is vital.