by Bethany Slaugenhaupt (Account Manager)
What makes you follow a specific brand? I don’t mean simply following their social media feed, or recognizing them in a store or commercial – I mean following them – Wearing only that brand of purse or shopping at only that clothing store. If you are that passionate about a certain brand, I’m sure you find yourself telling other people about it, or proudly wearing their logo on your shirt. This brings me to the ultimate question: What makes you a brand follower?
It probably won’t come as a surprise to know that the brands we follow are asking themselves the same question daily. They want to reach people like you and me – their ideal customer, their demographic.
I have been a brand follower of Columbia Sportswear for almost 10 years. As a lover of all things outdoors and an avid hiker, I need clothes that are not only going to be very comfortable to wear while walking for 5 hours at a time, but also will last me through the years. I bought my first Columbia hiking shirt in 2008 (which I still wear to this day) and I’ve never looked back. They got me.
The style in which a brand chooses to market might be the most important part in building followers. The look and feel of the brand needs to be one that will draw in the types of people needed to create brand followers. For instance, Columbia Sportswear chooses specific photography and content on their social media platforms to show their audience what it is about nature they are passionate about.
Their Instagram and Facebook style is posting to the person, not a “shopper”. Instead of trying to reach someone who is actually looking for a Women’s Catacomb Crest™ Interchange Jacket, they reach people who are engaged in the type of activities that would require you to have that type of coat. Cruising through their social media pages, you would barely even know that it is a clothing company.
The emotion that is activated in me when I look through Columbia Sportswear’s social media page is one that I’m sure was 100% intended by their marketing professionals. I see pictures like this, and I want to physically dive into my computer screen. I feel adventure, passion, excitement, comfort and happiness. They are relating to people like me, who have stood in front of some of these mountains, but daydream about seeing more. I can literally put myself in every single one of their pictures, and feel a rainbow of emotion.
I stood here in August 2017 –
This picture and caption brings me right back to the emotions I experienced when seeing the Teton Range for the first time.
When you put the style and the emotion of a brand together, groups of people start forming who will unintentionally market for them. They will tell their friends about the best hiking pants they need to get for their next trip and they will wear their brand in every hiking picture they post on their social media pages. Soon, those people will be connected to others who have the same passions, the same visions and the same dreams.
I feel that I am a part of the Columbia Sportswear community. I try to hike through a different National Park every year, I love the look and durability of their clothing, I thrive on adventure, I have been a nature photographer for 12 years and I feel that I have a connection with everyone who is featured in their social media posts.
The beauty is that this is who I am naturally – I am their perfect demographic.
Truthfully, I’ve never given much thought into branding, however, since working at 321Blink I’ve been digging deeper into the inner workings of all things marketing. Working with clients to tell their story and market their company/brand meticulously to their ideal demographic got me thinking about what brands I follow. Columbia Sportswear is so much more than just comfort and warmth, it’s me identifying with the lifestyle, the emotion that their imagery evokes, their community of followers, their…brand. Columbia is who I am.