Things I Think About While Digging Out My Sled: How Getting A Snowmobile Changed My Entire Perspective On Branding
By: Lisa Slagle
I finally bought my very own snowmobile. It’s an old M7 from 2005 with a cracked y-pipe, but I don’t care— to me it’s perfect.
My little, green sled just opened up a whole new world of Montana backcountry, and now I can access different, steeper mountains than I have been able hike to for the last few years. I have so much more to snowboard now thanks to my trusty ol’ M7!
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to act like I fit in with the snowmobile community. While I’ve been a backcountry snowboarder for 7 years now, I have never owned my own sled, and I realized this week that the culture of snowmobiling is a beast of its own.
Being a newbie in sled culture actually refreshed my entire perspective on branding.
Hold on to your beanies, people, because I think this is going to be a good one.
Here’s the deal. Brands connect people with culture.
Products have a purpose and a use, but cultures are what we are really buying into when we buy a product.
Let’s take my sled, for example. The brand is called Arctic Cat, and the product is an M7 snowmboile.
The purpose of the product I bought is transportation in the backcountry.
The brand I just bought is Arctic Cat, who explain their brand on their website as “Passion. It’s in everything we do. Within every turn of a screw. Every hole drilled. Every knuckle bloodied. It’s what makes us Arctic Cat. From the assembly line workers to the R&D engineers, we all share a common bond tougher than steel.” So they want to be known for passion, craftsmanship, and toughness. That’s their brand.
Further yet, though, the bigger culture I just bought into is the snowmobile culture, which (regardless of what brand your sled is) is all about having a good time, fixing problems on the fly, being deep in nature, and a hearty sense of camaraderie. I’m suddenly in that culture by association.
The role of a good brand is to connect people with a culture and make sure that you do so with humility and honesty.
Think about your company.
Think about the products you sell and how people use them.
Think about why people like your brand and choose you over other companies.
And finally, think about what culture your brand belongs to. Every single brand belongs to at least one culture, or community of people all doing the same thing.
That culture is what you personally need to express in your company’s branding efforts. Think about how people are going to use your products and what that means for connecting them to something bigger. In your branding, tell the stories that matter to your culture— the pursuit of experiences.
What does that mean?
I didn’t select my sled because I liked the color green or because it has the biggest or best something metal— I bought it because of the experiences it will bring me, the adventures, the endless untracked snowboarding lines, and the friendships.
I don’t feel like I fit in with the snowmobile culture yet. I don’t have enough flames on my jacket logos. I don’t know what turbo lag feels like. I don’t laugh when people on Polaris snowmobiles turn to me and say, “Arctic Cat? More like Arctic Crap!” because I don’t get those jokes yet. But I bought a sled anyway because I know I want to pursue those experiences of adventures, powder, and backcountry friendships.
As a business owner, I challenge you to:
Figure out what culture your brand is a part of.
And tell stories that matter to your culture.
The value of your products is in something you can’t buy. It’s in the experiences yet to be had.
That wasn't too painfully nerdy, right?
If you'd like to sit down and talk to us about connecting your brand to its cultures, or even if you want to help me fix my sled all winter, we would love to geek out with you about it. CONTACT US.
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