The brand we all now know as Vans had come a long way from its humble beginnings when the two founding brothers sold their first dozen pairs back in 1966. History of how they came to be can be dated back to a group of skateboarders who found a gold mine in the sturdiness that Vans shoes provided.
The Van Doren boys saw an opportunity and ran with it, choosing to sponsor the skater team and paying them up to three hundred dollars to wear the shoes to competitions. When they look back at it now, that was the most excellent $300 they ever invested.
What’s The Secret?
With an exact target market in mind, the Vans brother went to work in trying to create the perfect skater shoe. To achieve this, they went about getting ideas from other creators like Peralta and Tony Alva to improve on their designs. A thick sole, reinforced heel, and extra padding later, they emerged with the #95, now known as Vans Era, the shoe by skateboarders, for skateboarders.
Their formula for success went a little like this:
1. Identified Target Audience
Once Vans knew who they were making their shoes for, it was easy to make changes to their design that catered perfectly for that market. They knew their customers valued comfort and sturdiness and maximized that. With a clear vision in mind, they then invested in their niche “influencers,” the skaters. Though sponsorship wasn’t a foreign concept, the way they approached it was genius. They made the athletes’ partners and worked together from product marketing to brand management.
2. Have a Plan
Target applicability, coupled with a long-term partnership, equals a prosperous influencer scheme. With a clear image of what your target demographic looks like, it’s time to come up with a plan that’ll work specifically for that group. As you invest, think of the future and how the deal you’re getting into will help shape the coming months/years. The skaters they partnered with shared the same farsighted vision and agreed to wear and endorse the shoe years into their careers.
3. Give Your Brand Personality
In marketing, personality sells. The key to success isn’t presenting a product or brand that’s a one-size-fits-all; it’s in marketing yourself as a distinct entity that caters holistically for an elite group of people. If it’s a specific product you’re presenting, make sure it’s unique features are highlighted. That’s how Vans made distinct shoes for all twelve of their ambassadors, each with a touch of the owner’s personality imprinted into it.