Contrary to popular belief I don’t consider myself very old and tend to have a very youthful outlook on life. Having a 12 year old son can either help you stay in that bubble or ultimately burst it for you.
We have all lived through the fads in life and the crazes that drive people to spend copious amounts of money on things we would now consider trivial. The problem nowadays is that these fads are becoming more and more expensive and happen with more frequency. Before we know it that hard earned SARS cheque we receive (if we don’t have to pay in) is already spent before the ink dries.
The current fad in my son’s life is skateboarding and all the paraphernalia that comes with it. The older boys in his school are the conduit, and as he looks up to them, he now wants the latest long board and wheels. As the skateboard god of my era (or so I thought) this was right up my alley so I volunteered my time and expertise to accompany him to the skateboard shop and help him choose his weapon of choice. Upon arrival I realised soon enough I was going to be as useful as a round peg in a square hole. The boards were nothing like I grew up with, the only use I was going to be was handing over my credit card to the very helpful salesperson.
Although this sport has been around for over 60 years, brands were required to evolve to remain popular and relevant to their consumers.
In 1972 Frank Nasworth invented Urethane skateboard wheels and basically reinvented what skateboarding was about. This invention sparked a new interest in the sport amongst surfers and young people and in 1975 the Zephyr team showed the world what skateboarding could be. They rode their boards like no-one had in the public eye and skateboarding was taken from being a hobby to something serious and exciting. The Zephyr’s most famous members Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Stacy Peralta became the benchmark and the faces behind the Zephyr brand. There is a point to all this skateboarding history.
All of the above leads me to my actual point of the article. Brands need to reinvent themselves to ensure they stay relevant. Truly iconic brands inspire passion and fierce loyalty amongst their avid followers. Skateboard brands, for example, continually move to the next level in product development but also up the ante in the brand experience. This brand experience is an extension of the brand’s purpose and differentiates itself from other rivals. Through this differentiation brands have given themselves a distinctness that drives brand loyalty and repeat purchases. A board designed by Enjoi is vastly different to that of Alian Workshop. This distinctiveness and differentiation often allows brands to charge a price premium, one of the many benefits if ensuring your brand has remained relevant.
Over the course of 2014 I have read a number of articles around branding and the general trends to look out for. I have chosen five that I think are the most pertinent right now!
1) Brands that influence culture sell more.
2) Today’s consumers lead from the front, involve them in your brand.
3) Customise wherever and whenever you can.
4) Forget the transaction, give me an experience.
5) Be obsessive about presentation.
Just as a matter of interest here are the top nine skateboard brands at the moment:
1) Plan B
8) Alian Workshop
I have become reasonably set in my ways with regards to my purchases. I generally stick to the brands that I know and have purchased over the years and never really questioned the status quo. This exercise with my son has made me reassess my loyalties and start enjoying the experiences that come with new brands. I may go back to the tried and tested but would have enjoyed the journey in getting there.
Jedd Cokayne is Group Head: Famous Brands at The MediaShop (@MediaShopZA). This post was first published in the company newsletter.
IMAGE: PlanB wallpaper