How to Brand Your Outdoor Company
6 Minute Read
Outdoor company branding might seem simple. You might think that The Great Outdoors sells itself and all you have to do is reach the people interested in outdoor adventure. However, such a mindset ignores the critical component that all successful outdoor companies have: a compelling brand.
Effective branding and key messaging doesn’t happen by accident. For your outdoor company to thrive, you need to:
- Identify who you are as a company.
- Determine what sets your company apart from the competition.
- Cultivate customers who are loyal to your brand and help amplify your marketing message.
These are the basics of outdoor company branding. Brand Positioning Experts at Twelve Three Media have extensive experience helping outdoor companies and businesses in other industries develop their brand identity and integrate it into a cohesive marketing strategy.
Download our FREE guide Branding Fundamentals for Outdoor Companies to get comprehensive tips for creating a winning brand for your outdoor company.
5 Tips for Effective Outdoor Company Branding
From nature excursions to sporting goods, outdoor recreation is big business. The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation drives $887 billion in consumer spending every year.
This is great news for everyone from rock climbing guides to the makers of apparel and equipment. But, with so much money at stake, the competition for customers is fierce. Simply having a great product or service at a reasonable price isn’t enough—outdoor companies need to create a unique and engaging identity that customers will remember and develop positive associations with.
You can’t just pay someone on Fiverr to make you a logo and throw together some pictures from your latest trip or product field test; that’s not branding. Creating a great brand requires time, effort, and, in most cases, money. But there are a few tricks the experts at Twelve Three Media recommend to help get you started:
1. Find Your WHY
Companies that dominate the public imagination don’t just sell products or services. They sell a vision of their offerings, their industry, and even the world that consumers want to be a part of. For these companies, massive success is predicated not just on WHAT they offer, but WHY.
The process and importance of defining an organization’s WHY was first articulated by Simon Sinek at a now-famous TED Talk. A company’s WHY is the mission or higher calling that drives their business model, their relationships with customers, and their marketing and advertising.
If you are looking for examples of companies that put their WHY front and center, consider The North Face. For more than 50 years, the company has operated with the mantra “Never Stop Exploring™”. Beginning as a small mountaineering store in San Francisco, today The North Face provides gear with an unmistakable logo for all types of explorers around the globe.
The best way to find your WHY is to involve founders and stakeholders in discussions on the inspiration behind the company’s founding and the feelings you want your customers to experience. Establishing these key features of your outdoor company is an important first step in defining the essence of your brand.
2. Identify Your Audience
Successful branding isn’t just a process of defining who you are as a company. It also requires knowing the customers you want to attract and building their loyalty.
As an outdoor company, you’re obviously trying to reach people who love being in nature. But are you targeting the whole family or hardcore enthusiasts? Are the weekend warriors or professional athletes your bread-and-butter?
Much can be gathered by collecting first-party data via your website, ads, and other channels. Additional steps such as performing focus groups or sending out surveys allow you to learn more directly from your customers.
Ultimately, your goal should be to understand:
- Who your customers are (i.e., the demographics)
- What makes them tick (i.e., their psychographic qualities)
3. Position Your Brand
Once the basic foundation of your outdoor company branding is in place and you’ve identified your target customer, you can flesh out the additional details of your brand identity. Again, involve key stakeholders in discussions on how you want to position your company.
The goal of these conversations should be to define the following:
- The benefits customers find in your products and services
- What separates your outdoor company from companies with similar offerings
- The tone of your messaging; it is important to consider all of the ways you communicate with your customers, from social media to ads
- The user experience on your website—what does your website tell customers about your company, and how does it make them feel?
- Your company persona (i.e., the kind of image you strive to put forth)
- One fun way to think about this internally is to identify a fictional character or historical figure you feel best represents your business
With these insights in place, you are on your way to a brand positioning strategy that truly distinguishes you from other companies in the industry.
4. Create a Brand Style Guide
Messaging is not the only area of branding where consistency is a must. All visual assets you use to market your business online and offline need to be representative of your outdoor company’s brand identity. This requires a full audit of the following:
- Logos and other icons
- The color scheme for your company
- Imagery you use in marketing and ads
- Fonts and typography
- Any other collateral that includes these assets, from digital ads to signage
Imagine the Apple logo without the half-eaten fruit, or the Starbucks logo with a red circle around the siren instead of the green one. These changes would make you feel like you’re in bizarro world. And yet, they illustrate the importance of key stylistic elements to the successful recognition of a brand. Your outdoor company needs to exemplify the same consistency in branding to capture your audience’s attention—and stay there.
5. Build Brand Loyalists
All companies dream of having legions of loyal customers. In the outdoor industry, Patagonia is probably the big winner when it comes to recruiting customers who double as evangelists. A perceptive analysis of the company’s fandom found that people become enamored with Patagonia not only for its products but due to the company’s outspoken stance on sustainability.
Embracing a cause is one way to build a following. You might also consider cultivating relationships with influencers whose content aligns with your core values. This could be anyone from professional rock climbers to amateur hikers with an infectious love of the outdoors. The key is to have your product or service shared in a positive light with a receptive audience—ideally supported by compelling video and/or imagery.
Creating world-class content of your own is another way to entice newcomers and transform them into raving fans. Once your outdoor company branding is well-defined, you can start implementing a strategy to expand your reach on social media, make your mark with custom videos, and more.
Want to Get Your Outdoor Company Branding Off the Ground? Our Experts Can Help!
As a marketing agency founded in the Front Range of Colorado, Twelve Three Media has an abiding passion for the outdoors. On weekends, you will often find members of our team hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding, or just taking in the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains. With our love of nature and our expert knowledge and experience marketing outdoor companies, we are able to offer unparalleled strategies and innovative solutions for your brand.
Contact Twelve Three Media today to learn more about our branding and key messaging services, or to schedule a comprehensive brand workshop!
NOTE: Twelve Three Media is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned.