Outdoor apparel blog posts can do a lot to help you to connect with your desired audience. They generate interest, loyalty and help you to grow your tribe. But what else can you do to make your outdoor brand stand out?
So what are we dealing with here?
It’s official – the traditional progression of life has been abandoned.
No longer are under 35s buying houses and bigger cars. Instead, they’re buying experiences. They’re venturing out into the world and taking on mountains, crossing oceans, kayaking fjords and hiking tundra.
Logos you see on people walking around town have changed in recent years – now you’ll see Patagonia, RAB, Mountain Equipment, Finisterre and Prana embroidered on t-shirt corners.
Even Prince William was seen wearing an Arc’teryx jacket at a recent sports event.
From hardcore practical outdoor clothing that wouldn’t shy away from a trip to Svalbard, all the way to the cosy knits and merino t-shirts of a trip to the supermarket – there is a growing demand for outdoor apparel that fills every clothing eventuality.
But there are also a lot of brands that have realised this.
So how can an outdoor apparel brand stand out from the crowd?
#1 Be Useful
While many consumers will happily try out new brands, it’s the ones that are useful to them that they will return to.
A brand that’s all name and no substance simply won’t last.
Patagonia set out to make the best quality clothes for all-terrain use. AlpKit set out to make quality mountaineering kit that was actually affordable. Finisterre set out to make long-lasting clothes that suited the needs of Northern clime surfers and adventurers.
They all set out to serve a purpose.
While your product and company range can expand, your purpose must be clear to you and clear to your customers.
There are plenty of new outdoor apparel brands with no more purpose than to jump on the bandwagon.
A brand without a purpose that serves its customers is like a novel with blank pages.
#2 Be Daring
Every year there is a Redbull Cliff Diving championship. I mean. C’mon.
You don’t have to sponsor extreme events but you do have to take some risks. Sticking only to tried and tested methods of exposure, marketing and brand identity will quickly have you slumming it with the rest of the outdoor brands.
Be daring in your designs, in your marketing, in your outreach plans, in your brand ambassadors. Be daring in your goals.
Don’t Say: We want to be a good outdoor apparel brand.
Do Say: We want to be the best hiking t-shirt brand in the world.
Why? Because nobody wants mediocre.
Niche down, focus, dare to try. After all, if you’re not daring to make the coolest, most effective product you possibly can, why would others dare to buy it?
#3 Be Honest
Outdoor lifestyle brands love to lie. They use the term, ‘born out of’ and they make up something about somebody’s granddad.
That’s why I love AlpKit so much.
These guys are totally honest with their story (or at least it seems like that). They were a group of friends who simply couldn’t afford to buy new kit for mountaineering. So they slowly created a company that made great equipment at affordable prices – without compromise on the customers’ side.
This story would stink if their products were expensive now.
But AlpKit have been going for a good while and their products are still great, still affordable and their company is still small. It’s still just those guys! They might not be holidaying in Mauritius and buying mansions but they’re true to their story and true to their customers.
Mountaineers want great equipment and clothing but they don’t want to spend huge quantities of cash. Extreme sport clothing takes a lot of flak from the elements so not only must it be hardwearing, it needs to be affordable to replace.
AlpKit believe in adventures and make affordable clothing and equipment to enable those adventures. AlpKit’s customers believe in adventures, and they need affordable clothing and equipment to fulfil those adventures. See where I’m going with this?
Shared values is the most important part of allowing your brand to stand out from the crowd. When you share your values with those of your ideal customer base, you have fans for life.
Through blog posts, Instagram and other social media outlets, you can continually represent your values and stories. These methods allow consumers to instantly connect with you and be a part of a story they believe in.
*Update: A fan of AlpKit got in touch with me pointing out that I haven’t mentioned another thing AlpKit excels at: Customer Service. This company go above and beyond the usual and I know this first hand. On a last minute journalism assignment to NW Scotland I needed a sleeping bag within 20 hours. I was in Manchester and looked in Blacks but they just had overpriced, over-engineered bags. I ordered one off AlpKit’s website and then called them up, making sure they could post using Post Restante to Inverness the next morning. I picked up the sleeping bag at 11am the next day hundreds of miles north. Perfection. It’s exactly this kind of service that makes a would-be one-time customer, a lifetime customer.
#4 Be Beautiful
There’s a reason the Pinterest travel pages are in a browser tab on everybody’s work computers. Travel is all about the senses and visuals play a huge part in that. A single image can make someone book a flight.
From colours and logos to photoshoots and marketing – your brand needs to be beautiful.
A model wearing a Primaloft jacket against a white background isn’t going to make your would-be customers think, ‘I need this’. Even if that’s exactly what they need for their February camping trip.
Yes you need clear product images that show it as-is. But accompanying these product images with an outstanding lookbook is what will cement that purchase.
Check this out from Finisterre:
Product images below
It can be difficult to imagine how some clothes fit when all you see is a product laid out, much less imagine them in your life. Including a lookbook for some of your range is a great tool to show customers exactly how those products will seamlessly become part of, and improve, their lives.
While lookbooks take only a sample of a product range, further lifestyle shots for each product will benefit sales.
#5 Be Real
If you flick through Finisterre’s lookbook and product range, you’ll see it uses models you wouldn’t see on a catwalk.
These people not only look like they’d wear Finisterre’s clothes but they look like they’ve just been photographed on their own beach holiday. Even the product shots look like real users of the clothes.
Using models (and athletes) who represent your ideal customer is an easy way to make your outdoor brand stand out. While ASOS might use fashion models in fashion poses with an airy pout on their lips, chances are that isn’t going to connect with someone who needs a warm jumper for basecamp.
Even with outdoor lifestyle brands – AKA brands focused on looks and fun rather than technical outdoor clothing – should be using models who look like the people next door…but loving life.
Allowing your customers to feel as though they are just one jumper away from being in that crowd cooking up mackerel by the campervan will win you loyalty. Overly staged fashion shots will look faintly ridiculous, even for lifestyle brands.
Make your outdoor apparel brand stand out now
Creating honest, authentic content on your blog allows you to share your values, story and goals with your growing audience.
Behind-the-scenes tales of your photoshoots, adventures and musings allows you to connect with your would-be customers on a deeper level than merely making clothes they might like.
If you need effective, engaging blog posts around adventure, travel, outdoor sports and your individual brand needs, give me a shout today!