Until recently I’ve never been particularly drawn towards anything Rab have done as a brand. Apart from the sleeping bag range, which has always been exceptional, I’ve never really managed to get excited about the brand and its products that much. These days, although I’m still not necessarily drawn to them over any other brand, I’m much more likely to head on over to their website and take note of that they are up to.
Over the past few years, Rab have certainly learned how to engage with their many fans more effectively. Their website now communicates the brand message in a compelling and contemporary way through a variety of different means.
Lessons In Heritage
Rab continually reference their heritage. Obviously not all brands can do this – younger brands can’t draw on their history if they don’t yet have one. But for a mature brand like Rab it’s an essential story to tell. Rab Carrington was a very important figure in British (and world) mountaineering. The products he developed in Rab’s early days still have an influence on those being made and worn in the mountains today. Down clothing and sleeping bags in particular are still pretty similar to how they were back then – a sure sign that, although fabrics may have moved on somewhat, the basic idea of using duck or goose down as an insulator is one that has stood the test of time.
Down is fundamentally the best insulator we know of. It was back then and it still is now. Rab played a big part in the development of down clothing and sleeping bags and that’s a legitimate thing for them to shout about.
Engaging And Creative Technical Info
Rab manage to wrap up messages regarding the technical aspects of their products in a really engaging and inspiring way. The video below is a great example of this; a message about how to layer in the mountains wrapped up in a simple, emotive story based in an environment that most UK based outdoor activists can relate to. It’s a video aimed squarely at Rab’s core customer and rather than depicting something that is out of reach, it stands alongside it’s core customer and says ‘we are just like you’.
All of the clothing technologies that Rab use also have an accompanying short video. Each video is just long enough to provide a run through of the basic info but not too long so the viewer looses interest. They usually feature a Rab designer who talks through the details. This is a great way for the brand to communicate the thinking behind a product, fabric or technology. Asking a designer to talk about the product that he or she has created gives the message an authenticity that may otherwise be lost.
The idea behind a Rab designer explaining product concepts on video also helps to connect with the consumer on a another, really simple level too – it’s a window into the world of Rab. It’s not a voice over without a face, or even a computer generated voice over like I (unbelievably) heard recently on a product video, but instead the actual human being who designed the thing. The connection made with the viewer of the video (the consumer) is bound to be a stronger one.
Down To Earth Athletes
In keeping with the rest of Rab’s outlook, their team of sponsored athletes look like they’ve been chosen with a nod towards the typical Rab customer too. Guys like Greg Boswell, Libby Peter and Richard Parks are obviously all super talented individuals, but they also display a sort of down to earth-ness that isn’t always prevalent among sponsored athletes.
Rab athletes also regularly contribute to the brand’s blog. There’s a lovely mix of content on there – including a recent trip report from the photographer Colin Prior. Colin is a Rab sponsored athlete – another example of the company thinking a little differently – and an inspired choice. A significant percentage of Rab’s core customers will be familiar with Colin Prior’s work – his Scottish Highland calendars and coffee table books are legendary. Plus you know for sure that when you ask Colin Prior to write a trip report or blog post it’s going to look damn good!
Rab sponsored athlete Richard Parks; professional rugby player turned Arctic explorer.
Stories Outside Of Product
Rab’s current website homepage predominantly displays a feature called ‘Across the Arctic Ocean’. It’s an extract from a book about Sir Wally Herbert’s successful and un-repeated crossing of the Arctic Ocean. As far as I can tell it doesn’t really have much to do with Rab, but the images are engaging and it sounds like a pretty full on adventure. From a marketing point of view it represents Rab expanding their horizons a little, associating themselves with something that’s a little different and potentially reaching out to a new customer who might be interested in something other than eVent shells or Primaloft hoodies.
In short then, Rab have moved on. They’ve clearly invested time and thought into embracing and expanding the Rab community. They still produce well made, well designed and commercial product that British users just seem to ‘get’, but now complement that with thoughtful and inspiring content based around the brand, its history and its products.
Community Through Content is a regular series on The Path Less Trodden which takes a look at the best creative digital content from outdoor brands and retailers.
Front image – Rab