What do brands like, Patagonia, Ruff Wear, PBR, Airstream and Carhartt all have in common? At some point in their existence, either from the beginning days of their brand, or later as the brand struggled to maintain market share, there was a movement within a sub-culture of individuals that gravitated towards the product, embraced it, utilized it and shared it with others, consciously or subconsciously.
I like to call this the “brand epicenter experience.” This is defined when a shift happens at the center of a sub-culture, individuals gravitate towards a product for various reasons but typically they are tied to strong beliefs/ideals held within their sub-culture. These brands become “identifiers,” coveted within the group because they work to further define and separate them from the everyday norm. This group is considered the epicenter of brand consumption.
People outside the sub-culture that want to fit in and emulate the actions of those in the epicenter, embrace and utilize the same brands/products as the sub-culture, the movement starts to spread out from the epicenter and expand. Just as an earthquake happens, so does the organic spreading of a brand. You can’t make it happen, however, by being highly specific in defining your demographic and staying only within their marketing channels you will increase your odds of an epicenter event.
For brands like Patagonia, Ruff Wear and Airstream, they knew from day one who they were, they understood the needs of their customers and they knew where and how to find them. These markets however were very small and considered outside the norm compared to more commercialized markets at the time. That didn’t matter to these brands. They weren’t worried with mass consumption of their products. They focused on manufacturing the best possible products for their specific demographic and use. They didn’t go out with the purpose of creating brand converts but what they unconsciously did was create brand apostles who worked tirelessly, spreading the message of the brand through their sub-culture and beyond.
If you wanna shake things up you gotta start at the epicenter. It’s where shift happens.