The Brand Promise. How Coeur is developing its brand in Women's Triathon, Cycling, and Running
Posted: Dec 02 2014
Women's Cycling, Triathlon, Run & Swim Clothing
Brand. What does it really mean? It’s one of those words that has been thrown around and used so many times that the meaning has become vague. Is it your trademark? Your company name? Something else? And why all the fuss?
At Coeur, we asked ourselves those same questions when we started the company. What we concluded was that while the terminology could be confusing, the concept behind a brand is incredibly important. So we spent quite a bit of time on the topic and we’d like to share our thinking.
First, a bit of history. The consensus is that the word Brand comes from the Norse term “brandr" which means “to burn”.
That seems reasonable since ranchers used to mark their livestock so that they could be identified more easily at the stock yards. Eventually, of course, marketers got involved and worked to expand the meaning of the word. Rather than just identify the producer of a product, the idea was to tell the world about some of its attributes and the intended audience.
Over time, people began to associate concepts like quality and trust worthiness with brands. Then, it even became possible to tell something about a person based on the brand they chose. Maybe you couldn't really tell who they were on the inside but the brands they associated with could provide some clue to their aspirations. Sure...during the week, he or she was a dentist but that Harley shirt they were wearing was a dead giveaway that they wanted to be free. To ride the open road. Perhaps to even be viewed as a little dangerous.
We took that into consideration as we discussed the Coeur Brand. What did we stand for? How would we make it clear that quality was hugely important to us? What was our promise to our customers? What were our aspirations, and what might you be able to deduce about a person who is wearing Coeur.
Some of the answers came quickly. For things like quality and customer service, there was no debate. We never wanted to sacrifice on either. The quality is built in from the thread up. We oversee the production of the fabric at the mill in L.A. and we obsess over the placement of each seam and every stitch.
The same obsession was there for customer service. We think Nordstrom offers the gold standard for customer service and we adopted their philosophy. Which was basically, do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. Occasionally, that means taking back garments that have been worn multiple times or shipping several sizes until we get the one that fits perfectly. And we do those things and more. No questions asked.
The tougher issues related to what we aspire to and what we hope you can tell about a person wearing Coeur. Those are complex topics and the easy path would be to not address them at all. We could say that high quality, great designs and uncompromising customer service are enough and stop there. Perhaps we should not be so bold as to suggest that someone wearing Coeur stands for or aspires to anything in particular. After all, who are we to suggest that clothing has anything to do with what a person is like on the inside? And in reality, it does not. Some of the nicest people you'll ever meet, don't give a flip about the brand of clothing they wear.
But,in our heart of hearts, we hope to leave a positive mark on this world. We want to stand for something positive and we definitely have high aspirations. So, if we were to personify our brand, we'd say
"You might be a Coeur Girl if:
- You train and race hard: Everyone has different levels of talent, and circumstances beyond their control can impact results but that doesn’t stop you from working and racing hard. You believe that if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability.
- You know winning isn’t everything: Sure Vince Lombardi said that “Winning is the only thing” but in reality, “How you play the game” does matter. A Coeur athlete, races clean, congratulates her competitors when it isn't her day and knows that, ultimately, she competes in endurance sports because she wants to, not because she has to.
To be clear,
- You might not be quite ready for sainthood: We're certainly not! Now, there are lines we won't cross but, there are some that have been completely erased! We're pretty certain that Wine is one of the major Food Groups, many of our jokes can be pretty bad, and some of the topics discussed in the Coeur office are not for the feint of heart.
But perhaps, most importantly,
- You will help others along: Getting into endurance sports can be intimidating. The terminology is new (what’s a derailleur again?) and the women on the podium all look so intimidating. Ultimately, we hope that women wearing Coeur remember that everyone started somewhere and that they will go out of their way to help a newbie along. A few of us in the Coeur office started our athletic lives playing competitive tennis and we think a quote from the tennis great Arthur Ashe says it best. Ashe said: “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” We think that pretty much sums it up.
So, there you have it. These are our aspirations for ourselves and we hope they resonate with our customers. Sometimes, we'll fall short but, when we do, our promise is that we'll make it right and keep trying.
Your friends at Coeur.