At FreshBritain it is vital for us to get deep into the psyche of a brand. Without experiencing that first hand it can be difficult to get a genuine handle on what makes them tick. That old saying about having to walk a mile in another mans shoes before you can judge him is true here. In the case of UVU though, walking a mile didn’t quite cover it. Bob Sheard explains why:
"Working with UVU we ran the North Pole marathon. Our team ran across the jungle, we pounded the desert and this then culminated in running the North Pole marathon. You don’t just turn up with your trainers for something like that. It was hard but it was all a vital part of the immersion process. It meant training for six months, running in mud, running in sand, fog and snow. It meant getting up at 2am because that is when it is coldest and running at 50km runs with sleep deprivation prepared us for the North Pole marathon. Only then could we truly get into the mind and soul of the UVU consumer.”
To illustrate their commitment this is FreshBritain’s Business card at precisely 90 degrees north:
"We knew from experience that there will come a time in a runners life when your physical exhaustion has to be overcome by your mental resolve and that is what inspired us to name the brand UVU – you versus you. You can’t make this stuff up. You have to live it to understand it."
The authority when building a brand from scratch comes from connecting to the soul of the consumer. In all cases, FreshBritain seeks to connect with them. They know that we understand them because we become them. From scratch you have to create a process and a DNA that creates a behaviour that generates the authority for a brand to do what it needs to do. UVU has more authority in the sphere ultra-running than any other brand in the world right now.
That appetite for immersing into the brand isn’t restricted to UVU either. Bob continues.
"When we worked for New Balance we ran marathons and when we worked for Nike ACG we went to live in the mountains for six months. When we worked for Karrimor Travel we sent our creative director to the Alps with £30 and told him he had to get back to the UK. On his return we asked him to tell us about his experiences and only then did we get to the core of what it meant to be immersed into a brand."
FreshBritain has a commitment to finding out everything there is to know about a brand. The only way to do that is to become the brand and its consumers. In the movies, there are method actors. At FreshBritiain we try to be the method actors of branding.
Beneath all of the best brands is a substance, which makes their authority in their field almost unshakeable. The thing, which gives brands substance and authority, is closely related to its truths. UVU is a great example of a brand that has a strong strand of truth, which buoys its authority and substance. Of course there is a good name, nice imagery but what underpins that is the fact that UVU has been tested to extremes previously unheard of. It has been product tested more extensively than anything else out there. It is proven; it has won all the races it competed in and that is a big pull for consumers to connect with. It is the best because it has shown itself to be so.
That track record can come in many forms. While UVU has invested in proving itself in the toughest climates over a 2-year period, Levi’s had no such requirement – they have been doing it for 160 years.
Getting a brand back to what made it successful is the challenge. Some of the most powerful and potent brands in the world are owner run. So for instance when Steve Jobs was at Apple, he was the ultimate consumer for Apple or Phil Knight, the ultimate consumer for Nike or Armani, Ralph Lauren – not always the case but the brands that seem to be the most potent tend to be owned and run by its own consumer who then short circuits the need for all that information, all the focus groups and decision making. Fresh behaves like that as an agency and immerses itself in the brand.
In the case of ACG, Nike asked us to re-launch the brand in Europe. When we initially went to meet them they asked us what was right with ACG. We explained what was wrong with ACG, chiefly that thing in the middle of their logo – the Swoosh.
The Swoosh is imbued with over 20 years of individuals’ values, of personal glory and victory. The values of glory and victory are the antitheses of why people go snowboarding or venture into the outdoors. That’s the consumer barrier but there is also a retail barrier and that is that retailers do not want you to dominate their outdoors sector like Nike dominate the sport sector.
Bob explains how they advised ACG:
"We told Nike to behave their way in. We got them to take all the buyers from all the major outdoor stores in Europe and took them on a trip to the Alps on an avalanche warning expedition. So basically, we skied and snowboarded with them a little bit beyond their capabilities. We taught them about avalanches, we used products all designed by Nike. We designed a route down the mountain to ensure that they would have to use all their products a certain way. We made it so they would have to use their hoods, their rucksacks and so on, basically get the full use of their equipment. It was like a showcase, a dress rehearsal. And by the time they got to the bottom they were totally exhausted, yet sold and convinced on the product."
"At the bottom of the mountain we arranged a helicopter to pick them all up and that was the only time we used the Nike logo. We put a Swoosh on the back of the helicopter pilots helmet."
Brands often make the mistake of believing it is the consumer who must behave in a certain way. They believe it is a case of reminding people they exist via a short-term marketing campaign. In the case of many brands, it’s more about getting back to their core substance and what gives them authority. In the case of ACG, Fresh sought to change perceptions through behaviour. Not through big spends or advertising or endorsements but by behaving in the right way.
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