Brand

The truth about endurance sports

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at the launch of the running magazine Like The Wind, held at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane. It’s a running magazine with a difference in that it’s comprised of a number of inspiring and personal stories from runners themselves. Many of the great and the good in the world of sports marketing were in attendance and – due to the tube strike – I was encouraged to run to and from the event and present in my racing kit.

I needed little encouragement to be clad in Lycra in a room full of strangers. Just like any other weekend but without a mask on.

The challenge was around engaging in a meaningful and authentic way with the rising population of endurance sports participants. It’s a fast growing and changing world and one that needs a different and more tailored approach from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Mizuno and Saucony. Currently there is a real proliferation of specialist brands that have both the expertise and the credibility to compete with the very biggest of global brands.

For me, it’s about being true to your ideals as a business. What can you bring to the experiences that these athletes can enjoy (or endure?), how will you go about bringing the new challenges, products and events that will surpass their expectations and enhance the journey they are on. It is a journey and there is always something happening next. Can you be a part of that experience?

These individuals, and the tribes they are part of, are different. As a brand owner, where do your passions lie; how can you enhance theirs for mutual benefit; how are you going to be different and stand out? How are you going to be real?

The power of social media is immense. It’s a social and dynamic world, the circles are always changing, building and colliding and as a brand you need to be in that space and be just as dynamic. I talked about our experiences at Truth in understanding your audience more closely: what makes them tick, how do they relate to your brand, how do they view it or talk about it, what role does it have on their journey, what role could it have, how might it partner and support you in the future? How can it be ‘there’ when it matters?

Like the athletes itself, this demands commitment. It needs to have meaning and come from the heart of what your business stands for. It needs to be understood from the inside and the tone of voice and language your brand uses needs to reflect this. It’s hard to try to be authentic but it’s easy if you actually are. Your stories have to be true and come from your passion. All these bigger brands have this in spades, it’s just a case of putting the stories out there in a way that feels authentic and not contrived. Like the Wind magazine is obviously a great channel in which to do this.

Don’t ‘Just Do It’. Live it and Love it. Success as a brand will follow, more naturally.

Buy the magazine if you love running or just love inspiring stories. It’s a great read and certainly fuels the imagination when you are pounding the streets in the midst of a tube strike.