case study

Branding at its Finest—Cult Brand: GoPro

Thanks to GoPro, pretty much nothing is unfilmable. Just check out this video offering footage of what it’s like to fly from an eagle’s point of view, or this one for a front-row seat to an owl dance-off. It was this idea, having a camera that could quite literally go anywhere, that inspired the founder & CEO Nick Woodman while on a surfing trip around Australia and Indonesia. Strategic partnerships with key investors got the tech company off the ground, but it was customers merely posting their own videos that got the product on Twitter and Facebook feeds across the country.   

The company was founded in 2002 as a solution to the inability to capture quality action photos and videos at a reasonable price. The name itself was inspired by Woodsman and his friends wanting to become professional surfers because at the time, “going pro” was the only you could end up getting footage of you on the water.

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Extreme sports enthusiasts took to the tiny, but tough cameras, very early on. Never before had they had the opportunity to film or take pictures while base jumping or biking down a mountain, and now they were able to not only capture it, but to share it. In fact, many of these daredevils credit GoPro as a significant driving force in the multi-billion dollar action sports industry. Now that people can see first hand what these extreme experiences are like, more people are getting interested in trying them out for themselves. Suddenly, GoPros weren’t just a way to take videos; they were a way to have an experience. And in a world where people live to show off their best and most interesting versions of themselves online, everyone began clamoring for the newest way to show off their activities.

As smartphones (and their cameras) get more advanced with every new model, the need for a standard point-and-shoot digital camera has dwindled. Most everyone has a decently quality lens in their pocket now, so why would they carry another device? But GoPros aren’t just another camera; they’re an accessory to whatever extreme activity you’re about to do. Having to look through a lens to capture something takes away from whatever you’re doing because you’re no longer living in the moment. With a GoPro, you don’t have to limit your experience at all. And that is something no other camera has ever been able to offer. It’s not exciting when you see someone pull out their phone to snap a pic from the top of a mountain, but when you spy someone strap on their GoPro from the top of a mountain, it probably means that they’re about to do something awesome. Having a GoPro became a symbol that you’re an adventurer. They give you status.

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Having user-generated content as your primary driver in the marketing strategy is undoubtedly an advantage not all brands can capitalize on. However, GoPro also knew what to do with the content once it was out there. Engaging with your audience is a surefire way to create a community among consumers. By sharing user-generated content on the website, social media platforms and in email marketing campaigns, they feature customers. Thus, they can monetize content their customers created for them--at no cost.

Like most companies though, everything has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The brand has seen a tumultuous few years as they’ve struggled to understand their next move. The stock has dropped, they’ve both entered and exited the drone manufacturing business, and had waves of layoffs. But after taking some time to trim their product line and bring the focus back to customer research, they released the Hero 7, which quickly became their fastest-selling product ever. When their line of drones failed to be profitable, they realized they needed to realign their aims with what their customers want. GoPros are a niche product, which means they have a niche audience. Not to mention, they really have no direct competitors. Instead of trying to put out products that might attract a broader range of consumers, they got back to basics and developed the best GoPro yet. The world loves a comeback story, and at the end of the day, no one is skydiving with their iPhone duct-taped to their helmet.








Branding At Its Finest—Cult Brand: Amazon

When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994, it was just an online bookstore. Fast forward 24 years and several billion dollars in revenue, Amazon is now the world’s largest online sales company and has made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of more than $112 billion. Of course, Bezos soon expanded the products Amazon offered to include music, videos, and a variety of consumer goods. Since then, Amazon has developed numerous original products and offerings such as Amazon Prime, Alexa, Kindles, Echo and Fire TV, to name a few. Early critics said Bezos was crazy to quit his job and take a risk on that still new internet thing, but Bezos saw an opportunity to create something that couldn’t exist in the real world, a diverse marketplace that offers literally millions of items.

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Aside from the fact that people live for the convenience of front-door delivery, Amazon has solidified its top spot in the retail industry by forging relationships with their customers. From the beginning, the site allowed customers to leave both positive and negative reviews on books and products, something that many people criticized, but Bezos defended by saying they were helping consumers make more educated purchasing decisions and thus building a sense of trust. Brand value has always been a core part of the business plan and has earned Amazon a loyal customer base--one that makes up 43 percent of all online sales per year.

Amazon doesn’t waste time worrying about its competitors, it spends time coming up with ways to serve customers better; e.g., Amazon Prime, a paid subscription service for two-day free shipping, because Bezos knew how much online shoppers enjoy free shipping. Again, critics resounded arguing it was impossible to remain profitable while offering a perk like this, but yet again, Bezos proved short-term sacrifices can pay off. Amazon Prime customers spend an average of $1,300 in a year, nearly twice that of non-members; and more than 100 million people globally are Prime members.

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Years of dedication to customer service and consistently putting them first is what made Amazon stand out among a sea of retailers. Why take the time to go to Barnes & Noble or Walgreens or the grocery store when you can just order what you need online, know it will be on your doorstep the next day, and rely on fellow customer feedback for honest opinions? Bezos himself has stated that building a trusted brand was more important than worrying about potential copycats.

"There's nothing about our model that can't be copied over time. But you know, McDonald's got copied. And it still built a huge, multibillion-dollar company. A lot of it comes down to the brand name. Brand names are more important online than they are in the physical world."

In most every way, Jeff Bezos exemplifies the phrase “stay in your own lane.” Don’t worry about what your competitors are up to, worry about yourself. Customer care is something at the top of our priority list at EMB, and it’s amazing to see how hard work and a brilliant branding strategy can pay off.









Branding At Its Finest—Cult Brand: Old Spice

In a recent blog post on rebranding, we touched briefly on the incredible marketing campaign and rebranding overhaul Old Spice did in 2010. That said, we thought about and decided the brand needed much more than a short paragraph, but rather its own spot in our ongoing cult brand series to thoroughly discuss the enormity of their achievement.

Old Spice is an American company owned by Procter & Gamble that produces body washes, deodorant, antiperspirants, shampoos and soaps for men. The brand has been around since 1937 and has steadily been successful, but no one could predict the aftermath of the now famous “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad that premiered during the 2010 Super Bowl. In the hours after it premiered, the ad was viewed on YouTube more than 220,000 times. Today, that number has risen to more than 55 million.

After this massive success, Old Spice kept the ball rolling and created more than 180 videos, which were distributed across TV, Print, Facebook, Twitter, etc., that led to 29,000 new fans on Facebook and 58,000 new Twitter followers. Say goodbye to associating Old Spice with your Grandpa, and say hello to a shirtless Isaiah Mustafa on a horse.

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Aside from the fact that these videos were just wacky enough to be wildly entertaining and just short enough to hold our collective attention spans, the brand also achieved their primary goal—reaching a new audience. Prior to 2010, Old Spice was targeted toward men ranging between the ages of 40 and 60; now, Old Spice is ranked as one of the top-selling body washes in the world for men aged 18 to 35.

Now some people may wonder why a men’s body wash brand would use a good-looking man to sell to other men, but studies show that women make up 50 percent of the consumer group and are buying skin care products in an effort to stop their husbands, boyfriends, etc. from using their own grooming supplies. Knowing this, Old Spice built a campaign around an ad that is entertaining for everyone, but specifically used a male sex-symbol to garner female viewers' attention.

Finally, Old Spice managed to keep up their momentum by continually engaging with their followers. As stated above, in the months following the initial ad’s release, the brand put out custom, rapid response videos to questions asked by fans on Twitter and YouTube, some of which featured celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Alyssa Milano and Ashton Kutcher, to name a few. Suddenly, followers felt they were personally engaging with stars, something no other brand had ever before provided with a marketing campaign. In fact, the ad is still so well loved that Tide put out a spoof of it for the 2018 Super Bowl.

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At the end of the day, connecting and resonating with your audience is what will make a video go viral or cause a brand to set new records. This is just one part of developing an unstoppable social media and marketing strategy—something we prioritize on a daily basis here at EMB.