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Brand ID | Brand portfolio | ExpansionBrand ID’s CEO Wayne Bebb believes their strong brand portfolio provides the solution for their retail customers.
March 2016

Brand ID:

Offering a holistic

brand solution

For Brand ID 2015 was a year of growth that neccessitated expansion into bigger premises and of fine-tuning their holistic approach to supplying customers — retailers, schools, event organisers — with a portfolio of brands that are leaders across most sports disciplines and outdoor activities

There is a saying in the industry that when times are tough, established brands do well because consumers trust them. It appears that Brand ID shares this belief. While many companies were looking at down scaling towards the end of last year, they moved into new, modern, roomier premises in Woodstock where there is ample space to display their numerous brands in the high-tech showrooms.

Despite the shaky economy making many retailers more cautious and risk averse, their brands traded well across all areas during 2015 and they managed to achieve double-digit growth. “It was like being on a treadmill with the speed increasing,” says CEO Wayne Bebb.

With a 33% drop in the value of the Rand over six months the holiday season was a test for all trade, but “the buy-in had been good and our anchor partners are strong,” he says. “We have confidence in our business and retail partners going forward.”

The quotation from brand guru John Morgan’s book Brand the Machine on the wall in their meeting room explains their optimism: Branding is not just about being seen as better than the competitor. It’s about being seen as the only solution to your audience’s problem.

Their solution had been to offer a portfolio of brands that dovetail together to provide customers with a one-stop head-to-toe shopping opportunity.

They had set benchmarks and tailored the ways in which they deal with all customers, solidifying partnerships to form more meaningful relationships, adds Bebb. In addition, they strive to align themselves with best in class teams, schools, or events.

Choose from brand portfolio

This means that retailers — and schools and clubs in partnership with retailers — can find stock for just about every sport or activity from them. This strong portfolio consists of best in class brands, adds Bebb, covering cricket, cycling, fishing, fitness training, hiking, hockey, netball, rugby, running, soccer, swimming, squash, tennis, trail running, and just about the rest of the alphabet.

Canterbury, for example, has agreements with six of the top ten rugby schools to provide their first team uniforms, with the other teams purchasing their Canterbury kit from their retail partners.

But, Canterbury has grown into far more than a rugby brand. Although they are proud of their association with the Golden Lions, they now also provide clothing for most sporting codes, including the SA Netball teams and Mpumalanga Black Aces in soccer. These activations also include the other brands in the Brand ID portfolio: the national netball team, for example, wear Mizuno shoes and Skins compression and train with SKLZ equipment.

Cater for all sports

When signing partnerships with schools the whole Brand ID portfolio becomes involved: they can not only provide balls and uniforms for team sport (Canterbury), but also swimwear (Speedo), compression (Skins), fitness training (SKLZ) as well as cricket, hockey, tennis and squash (Dunlop and Slazenger). They provide gear for the first teams, while the other teams agree to buy through retail partners.

“We have proven ourselves as a reliable company to work with,” Bebb explains the success of this strategy.

This also translates into retail: at the Dunlop sales conference towards the end of last year, Brand ID was given a best practice global award as the 1st runner up for Best Implementation at Retail. “Dunlop and Slazenger continue to do very well in their spaces and they have positioned the brands right in retail.”

Columbia trail and cycling

Columbia, the newest brand to be added to the portfolio, is not only a major outdoor brand “with a strong ethic of excellence,” says Bebb, but also dominates the fishing clothing market with “a remarkable shirt” and has formed alliances in the cycling and trail running categories with sponsorship of the Cape Epic and the Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) event run over Table Mountain. “Columbia is the off-bike apparel sponsor at the Cape Epic,” he explains, “providing off-bike gear to keep the cyclists warm and comfortable after the ride while camping.”

Apart from presenting itself as a brand providing all the clothing, footwear and gear the UTCT runners will need, Columbia also digitally engaged with the athletes and their supporters with tips and guidance about the event and enabling them to track runners along the route. “These events are very good activations for the brand,” says Bebb.

Trail running is seen by Columbia International as a big growth category for which they will be providing an extended and upgraded range of performance clothing, footwear and accessories under the new Columbia Montrail label, following the decision to realign the trail brand Montrail as a sub-brand of Columbia.

But, above all, Columbia is aimed at the outdoor enthusiasts and the retailers who cater for them. The brand has resurrected the quirky, funny and memorable advertising campaign that helped place it on the map. It features Tough Mother Ma Boyle — the 92-year old chairwoman Gert Boyle — who forces her son (company CEO Tim) or new staff members to tough test Columbia gear in extreme conditions … like being buried under ice with a straw to breathe through or spending the night stuck on a ferris wheel in a snow storm.

There has been a resurgence in swimming interest at key retailers, “but independents are still taking strain,” says Bebb. The problem that a brand like Speedo faces is that the growth of the sport is hampered by the lack of swimming facilities across the country.

But, their alliance with many open water swimming events, Learn to Swim and their sponsorship of the SA Schools U18 water polo team, also benefitted the brand as “these swimmers want to wear Speedo and our other brands in and out of the pool — tracksuit, t-shirts, pants, etc.”

With the Olympics looming, he expects that there will be a resurging interest in swimming, as well as the Speedo suits worn by so many of the medal prospects.

Technical brands like Mizuno and Skins have a loyal following, because “once you get into them, you don’t want to buy anything else again.” At schools most rugby players now wear Skins under their kit and forwards enjoy wearing the Mizuno rugby boots, which was the second most popular boot brand at the IRB World Cup (worn by 27% of the players).

But, it takes a long time to convince elite runners to switch to a new brand. “Paul (Copson, brand manager) has, however, been doing a lot of good work at running clubs and point of use,” says Bebb.

Challenges for 2016

While 2015 had been tough for all, the price increases that will become inevitable due to the exchange rate will exert even more pressure on consumers and retailers in the coming year. “Our challenge will be to help our customers achieve sales,” says Bebb. He believes that while 50% of their job is to sell to the retail customer — especially as risk averse retailers will be thinking much harder before placing orders — the other 50% of their job is to help their customers empty their floors by giving consumers a reason to buy their brands.

This will include providing retailers with the necessary information to explain product technologies to consumers who will most likely enter the store armed with quite a bit of knowledge, interesting point-of-sale materials to sway his decision and by engaging with consumers on social media.

The new Golden Lions rugby jersey, for example, attracted more than 700 000 social media interactions. These chats about what people are wearing can drive sales in all sports codes, as what their peers are wearing often have more influence than TV adverts, believes Bebb.

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