A Brand By Any Other Name: The importance of branding in the surf industry.

By Angelo Ponzi

Your brand is more than just a name on your apparel, shoes, sunglasses, watches, or boards. It’s more than just your ads in magazines or team riders. In fact, it’s all of those¿and more.

Your brand is both the tangible product plus its intangible values¿its associations and expectations attached to that product by the customer. And, keep in mind that customers don’t buy products without also subconciously considering the company that makes the product and the brand it represents.

Because of this, a brand is a combination of the “rational” and the “emotional.” Your objective is to determine the right combination of messages to successfully position your brand in the mind of the customer¿occupying a space your competitors don’t. If there’s no distinction or differentiation between you and your competitors, then the entire product category you occupy is in danger of becoming a commodity where the lowest price will always win.

If your brand is not so strong, you need to look at it from all angles. Distinguish the attributes associated with your brand, how its perceived among your customers, non-customers, retailers, the trade, and media. Zero in on who your competitors actually are and how those competitors position their product. Do they occupy a specific position in the minds of the consumer? Exploit the gaps in their positioning that you can claim as your own. Is there one competitor or twenty? Decide whether you have a local, regional, national, or international strategy for your brand, and decide whether your brand is demographic specific.

Understanding your brand often starts with understanding where you stand in the market¿or determining where you would like to be positioned.

The Coolest T-Shirts

In our new Board-Trac WaveRider Survey, we identifed which brands consumers thought of first in a variety of surf-industry segments (surfboards, T-shirts, boardshorts, jeans, shoes, sunglasses, and watches). The results become a picture of how brands are ranked in the minds of the consumer. For the record, we also looked at wakeboarding and bodyboarding.

Let’s take a look at T-shirts (see chart). There were 1,318 respondents to the survey.

Overall top-five coolest brands of T-shirts:

1. Quiksilver

2. Billabong

3. Roxy

4. Rusty

5. Volcom

Overall top-five coolest brands of T-shirts with girls:

1. Roxy

2. Billabong

3. Quiksilver

4. Rusty

5. Volcom

5. O’Neill (tie)

Overall top-five coolest brands of T-shirts with boys:

1. Quiksilver

2. Billabong

3. Rusty

4. Volcom

5. Shorty’s

Overall top-five coolest brands of T-shirts with respondents who surf. one to five times per week:

1. Quiksilver

2. Billabong

3. Volcom

4. Rusty

5. Roxy

5. HIC (tie)

Overall top-five coolest brands of T-shirts with guys aged twelve to sixteen:

1. Quiksilver

2. Billabong

3. Volcom

4. Shorty’s

5. Rusty

The differences are subtle between the different groups, but important if you’re going after a specific group or age bracket. For example, Shorty’s, a skate-specific brand, did surprisingly well with the surf crowd¿especially the younger surfers.

While we’ve only addressed the top five, the total number of brands recalled for this question was over 200. Some were surf brands, some skate, others were store brands. Regardless, all of those brands have some of presence within the minds of your consumers.

Climb The Pyramid

Let’s examine how the classic advertising pyramid leads you from awareness to sale (see chart). The pyramid shows that awareness leads to comprehension of the brand’s image or position, then to belief in the brand or belief in the product. Next, among those who have this belief, desire for the brand is built, which ultimately leads to product purchases. As you can see, knowing where your brand stands is a key ingredient to your marketing strategy.

CATEGORIZED: Features