The branding experts who by day inhabit 10a Stevenson Square have decided to part with some of their hard-earned knowledge on their specialist subject – and let’s face it, we’ve probably all a bit of extra time to read, reflect and start planning aspects of our business’ branding that we’ve never before had chance to think about. Part two of our twelve part series is our focus on Explorer brands – our adventures might be on hold for now, but there’s still those of us who dare to dream.
The Explorer brand archetype stands amongst the 12 personalities eyes bright with a sense of adventure, eager for the next. A 9 to 5 won’t cut it for the Explorer, who fears mundane routine will smooth rough edges. Likewise A to B doesn’t suit either; why take a short cut they’d ask, when you can take the long way round. To give you a face to the name, explorer and endurance record holder Sir Ranulph Fiennes is our most appropriate pinup for the Explorer brand. Resourceful and unphased by danger, his day off would feel more like a marathon for most.
Claim as they do to be more the outdoorsy type than the domesticated Amazon shopper, the Explorer is rarely without techy gadgets or the latest in sport design. A tent that goes from flat pack to luxury tee-pee? Tick. A three-ringed camping stove with the power of an agar? Tick. And a coat that’s breathable and able to withstand winds of up to 100mph? Tick. So whilst the Explorer airs on the spiritual and seeks a journey to be found in every corner of life’s turns, they don’t travel lightly.
Think person suspended from cable dangles over mountain gorge set to an operatic falsetto; person drops and commence pacey club beat as footage turns to action: wheel-level motorbike racing, handle-bar view of BMX over dirt track and close up of a man descending a vertical water slide at great speed. GoPro gear their content around action and adventure, it’s the camera that really can keep up with the Explorer; withstand the elements, the speed, the impact damage. And it’s all captured with such steadiness that parents at home can be convinced that 100ft drop was more a health and safety approved 10ft. As a brand, GoPro make the conscious decision to isolate a sizeable portion of the consumer market who rightly so don’t fancy white-knuckle near-death experiences, and instead set their target on those who do. They now find themselves right there with the 60 litre rucksack and patterned trousers as the traveller’s essential.
NorthFace similarly pitch themselves to a rather niche market. Products are priced at a premium, balancing style and durability for the off-track adventurer. With taglines like ‘Never Stop Exploring’, ‘I live on the edge’ and ‘We hike longer’; their marketing campaigns promote the essence of their brand. And their cleverness in creating cool campaigns has meant that their target market has become wider than those traversing across the Peak District every weekend. NorthFace have transcended into street fashion and whilst they might not have made trousers that zip to shorts cool just yet, they’ve certainly put the padded puffer jacket back on the map.
Powerade and Patagonia – two more members of the Explorer brand personality. The former is the energy drink that promises, to quote: focus, hustle, hydration and belief. It’s difficult to decipher what this actually means in the context of a drinkable liquid but you get the idea; Powerade will power you through. Then Patagonia, a brand so confident in their explorer roots that they are navigating a different path for store concepts and marketing campaigns. Freshly ground coffee awaits customers coming to browse their all-weather clothing, served by friendly staff trained in the airs and graces of cool. They’ve created some brave campaigns since their inception in 1973: one in particular captured attention when they pictured the all-American family of hikers, passing their swaddled baby like a rugby ball over a canon gorge. In a more recent campaign, the Californian brand simply used one of their jackets with the text, ‘do not buy this jacket’. Instead of encouraging purchase, their message was to celebrate what you already have, mend, repair and reuse before adding to landfill.
Here at Glorious we are well accustomed with Explorer brands looking to inspire the power possibility in their target audience. WorkInc is a new venture who approached us looking for support in creating a proposition that would help them penetrate the highly competitive co-working market. Less corporate, modern and dynamic were all part of what WorkInc was trying to offer to their entrepreneurial audience: adventurers seeking a new way of working that gives them more freedom than a stuffy office.
Well equipped to dare, the Explorer brand is confident enough to narrow their audience to those who like a challenge. Their ambition is not to domesticate their consumer, but instead demonstrate how their brand facilitates the action they’re looking for, whether it comes in a bottle or a waterproof. The ultimate explorer brands keep up, not just in pace but also in anticipating demand before the consumer does. A gadget and a gizmo that makes the ride a little more comfortable will always be welcomed.
So if you think all of this sounds a little like the brand you’re trying to emulate, or the audience you’re trying to reach, then here’s a handy packing list of what you’ll need to for the journey…
How to brand an Explorer:
• An Explorer brand needs to demonstrate they’ve been there, done it, bought the t-shirt. No one wants to buy a climbing rope from a guy who hasn’t climbed before, right?
• Creative campaigns should evoke a sense of adventure and draw on the idea of journey – whether that’s literally or figuratively. What does the consumer discover by choosing your brand?
• Have the confidence to isolate some people. Exploring isn’t for everyone and that’s fine; be confident enough to only speak to the adventurous with your key messaging and marketing.
• Tone of voice should be empowered but understated too, bold without being bossy.
• Explorers like to think they’re a certain calibre of person, untamed, undomesticated, and unconvinced by routine. So your marketing needs to capture that.
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