Born and raised in Orange County, one of my favorite things about the area is how I’m continually amazed by what this community has to offer. Not only are the new businesses and features that have developed over the years, but also the places and things that seem to fly under the radar.
In addition to being a local resident, I’m also a local business owner. So with each local experience I can’t help but see things through the lenses of brand positioning and customer journey mapping. Every day in the office, my team and I focus on leveraging customer data to generate insights that drive brand growth and development. So I try to make note of my personal experiences as a consumer and apply the lessons learned while growing and developing my own company.
An event I attended a few weeks ago was a great example of how impactful strategic brand experiences can be and how the little details are usually what make big differences. It was also a great reminder that there are still plenty of things in Orange County that I have yet to explore.
You’ve likely seen or heard about the massive, post-apocalyptic structure tucked away in a quiet part of Foothill Ranch. It looks like something from a sci-fi movie, there’s a fully functional army tank protecting the entry road, and at first sight you know it’s something that deserves a visit. I’m talking about the Oakley Head Quarters building where I attended The Good Ride charity event benefiting the Infinite Heroes Foundation. It was an incredible experience on so many levels, so here are a few thoughts and highlights I want to share:
The power of authenticity
By definition, authenticity is being genuine, honest and truthful. Words alone aren’t enough to establish authenticity because without action behind it the words ring hollow. Across all industries, brands are challenged to convey authenticity because it is demanded by modern consumers. Despite significant efforts, investments and initiatives, many brands struggle in this area because being authentic is easier said than done.
The Good Ride event I attended last month was a great example of an authentic brand experience that was seemingly effortless because it made so much sense, but without a doubt it was the result of careful planning and strategic partnerships.
– Oakley started in 1975 when motorcycle handlebar grips being made in a garage were sold at motocross events.
– Good Ride is a motorcycle charity ride started by freestyle motocross rider, turned street bike builder and hooligan racer, Carey Hart.
– Proceeds from Good Ride rallies go to Infinite Hero, a military charity that gives back 100% of its donations to help veterans in need.
– Infinite Hero is an organization started by Colin Baden, CEO of Oakley, who was inspired by the friends he made through Oakley’s military business.
– The Good Ride charity event, which benefits the Infinite Hero foundation, was held at Oakley HQ which offers a physical structure and ambiance that embodies its action-adventure identity.
All of these pieces fit perfectly together because they’re authentically aligned.
The differentiator is in the details
As a guest at The Good Ride charity, the entire Oakley facility was open to explore. I was roaming the halls of a military-inspired structure reinforced by repurposed steel mounted with bolts that must have been at least 12 inches wide. I was surrounded by Oakley branded displays, memorabilia, motorcycles and products (because in addition to being company headquarters, it’s also an Oakley store open to the public.)
This was more than just a creatively decorated lobby; front-to-back and floor-to-ceiling, the building itself was a big part of the experience. For Oakley, this is who they are and what they represent day in and day out. It reinforces their brand identity for not only visitors, but for the staff who lives and breathes this atmosphere.
When designing their HQ building, Oakley could have made an economical structure and used accents to paint a picture of who they are. Instead, they opted to break the mold and go all-in on a vision of who they are and who they want to be. I mean… there’s a fully functional military tank protecting the road leading up to the building. Now THAT’S commitment.
A sale doesn’t always make an experience, but an experience can definitely make a sale
Here I am, giving Oakley free promotion and spreading brand awareness. My experience was so powerful that after just a few hours in the Oakley building I have a crystal clear idea of the brand’s identity, personality and values. I walked away with an authentic and meaningful story about the way I felt and I’m motivated to share this story with anyone who is interested to listen.
While I was there I bought some Oakley gear because I just HAD to. The experience made me feel as if my purchase was supporting a way of life rather than a brand’s bottom line. I understood and appreciated the core values and wanted to contribute. I felt like part of their community, and it was a good feeling.
As I mentioned earlier, I try to make note of my personal experiences as a consumer and apply the lessons learned while growing and developing my own company. Here are my key takeaways:
Don’t just talk about it, BE about it. Walk the walk. Live and breathe your brand’s core values because it’s the best way to deliver an authentic message. Of course, it helps having the finances to fund a massive structure like Oakley HQ. But there are plenty of things even my own family business can do on a daily basis to create memorable, authentic experiences.
Interested in learning more about creating authentic and memorable brand experiences? Give us a shout!
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