Key Components to A Branded Experience
With E-commerce giants Amazon and Wayfair taking bigger and bigger bites of the retail pie, brick and mortar retailers are racking their brains for ways to get consumers into stores. The best way to do this is to create a branded experience that taps into a universal human insight- whether it’s the desire to explore or for comfort.
One brand tackling the in-store experience challenge head on is North Face. North Face is creating a destination, not just a store, with their new retail strategy to develop its brand as a leader in sustainability and exploration. "Part basecamp, part archive and part store. The new retail environment will be the ultimate embodiment of the brand's DNA in a physical location," the press release stated.
Mark Parker, vice president of direct to consumer, added that the shopping experience is "no longer the sole mission of the store." "We're now focused on creating an environment that highlights our heritage and allows consumers to deeply connect with the brand as they prepare for their own exploration, wherever it may be," he said in a statement.
To support the revamped retail strategy, a new brand campaign Never Stop Exploring was launched in the fall of 2018 with OLV (online video), Social Media and Experiential activations at the core. OLV includes a series of short films featuring musicians, athletes and activists like producer-rapper Pi’erre Bourne, snowboarder Jess Kimura, filmmaker Jimmy Chin and activist Mikhail Martin. A :30 spot based on the concept of curiosity, lends additional support.
Pop-Up concerts in NYC and a showroom in the Italian Alps that had to be hiked to are part of the experiential activations, giving consumers a chance to connect with the brand in a way that’s more integral to their lifestyle. Hints for the event locations on social helped build buzz and create excitement. The grand opening of its SoHo store featured limited edition, custom basecamp duffel bags created with New York City artists, including Adam Lucas and Eric Haze, and The North Face athlete Renan Ozturk.
A new Instagram account @thenorthface_city was launched alongside the campaign, to house the videos and serve as a community for explorers. Recently the brand has been telling stories with three frames that take up a line of the grid. One effort promoted Camp Cook Out, an urban campsite experience hosted in partnership with @firstfamilydc filled with music, drinks, and a curated cookout menu.
Another story in the grid features chef Angela Dimayuga. Though, Angela is more than a chef. For her, food is a platform to explore politics, art, fashion, music, design — a vehicle for change and for building community. One may not initially see the relevance between a chef and The North Face brand. Give it a bit of thought and you’ll see the thread is there, weaving a connection with exploration and community.
Parallel to the brand campaign, The North Face launched Move Mountains, an initiative celebrating female explorers that includes a multi-year outdoor adventure partnership with Girl Scouts of the USA. The North Face is committed to bringing gender parity to its advertising, which is typically focused on the outdoors and adventure — areas that are increasingly popular with women. This charitable connection establishes an even deeper emotional component within the campaign and the female aspect is particularly relevant in today’s environs.
So how can the North Face effort be replicated to create a 360 brand experience? If we strip the campaign down, the key components are the in-store experience, one that incorporates elements outside of just the product, experiential activations that manifest the brand lifestyle, and storytelling in digital media featuring people who embody that life. How are YOU creating a 360 brand experience to engage consumers and create brand advocates?