The results of monitoring over 6 million online conversations, focus groups held across the country, numerous stakeholder interviews and hundreds of design concepts were documented in a video showcasing the evolution of Mountain Equipment Co-op’s brand identity.
Positive brand recognition is the gold standard for any retailer, but familiarity can ultimately limit a company’s ability to grow and innovate. Long-time customers come to expect a repeat performance of their past shopping experiences, while potential new customers, familiar with the brand but lacking actual buying experience with its products, may bypass the retailer altogether.
The management of Mountain Equipment Co-op, an iconic Canadian retailer of outdoor recreation clothing and gear, faced these and other challenges as it sought to increase its market share, and share of wallet. Founded in Vancouver in 1971 by a small group of mountaineering enthusiasts, the co-op had grown to a national retailer serving a large membership base.
However, with increased competition and an overall consumer shift toward more urban activities, the company wanted to update its brand to reflect the evolving retail experience. The company was now selling yoga mats, bikes and running gear along side its traditional outdoor equipment and clothing, yet many consumers still viewed Mountain Equipment Co-op as the retailer of choice for hiking and backcountry enthusiasts.
Concrete worked closely with a market research firm who conducted focus groups, opinion gathering and social anthropology research from six million online conversations. The research validated two key observations: that Mountain Equipment Co-op members are often as active in urban environments as they are in the backcountry, and their motivations for being in the outdoors and the activities they pursue there have grown more diverse.
Concrete developed the positioning, “We Are All Outsiders,” moving the brand away from its “hardcore outdoor” image toward a new commonality that still places people within an aspirational club. This statement was supported by a new logo, which replaced the full company name and mountain image with the MEC acronym. The logo was stripped down to the equivalent of a badge or stamp that retains the MEC ethos but can be used to brand a broad range of products in a bold but simple way.
As well as the positioning statement and new logo, the fully integrated brand presentation included a multi-platform launch campaign, product labeling, website, store signage, packaging, video and advertising.