Good marketing is about taking risks and innovating in a way that propels your brand forward. The best companies make a habit of it, creating momentum and noise with impressive regularity. And the Australian underwear brand Tradie is no exception. In just 6 years, it has shot to become the second best selling underwear and workwear brand in Australia with sales in excess of $60m a year at retail, a huge feat for a market where the top players are indelibly entrenched. Here are 6 lessons we can learn from Tradie, a brand that has mastered iconic ideas and the art of powerful story telling.
1. Know Your Audience
Tradie underwear was designed for hard working Australian men and women. These tradesmen, or 'Tradies' are honest, hard workers that don't take life, or themselves, too seriously. The product was designed to be tough and durable, with a healthy dose of humor. Tradie proudly declared that it wasn't for the fancy suit-wearing office types; it was for the average guy and girl; the 'real' Australians. They knew their audience intimately and honed in on the aspiration that comes with being the honest, no-fuss, Australian larrikin and owned it. Their brand ambassadors include people like former Rugby player Nick "Honey Badger" Cummins, who was known as much for his comical post-game interviews as he was his performance.
2. Spend Your Media Dollars Wisely
In the run up to a pitch meeting with a larger and vital retailer, Tradie plastered the neighborhood surrounding the retailer's headquarters with outdoor advertising. By the time the high-stakes meeting rolled around, the retailer staff had been so inundated with messaging from the Tradie brand, that they believed the brand's size and scale to be much greater than it was in reality. The meeting resulted in Tradie securing a large contract, which then helped catapult the brand to new heights.
3. Keep An Ear To The Ground
After watching the news, the Tradie team discovered that a Tradie fan, Ben Mackay, had got lost on a solo fishing trip, and after 24 hours adrift, he survived, wearing nothing but his Tradie underwear. CEO Ben Goodfellow contacted survivor Ben Mackay through a prominent radio station, and publicly gifted him with a lifetime supply of Tradie underwear. Ben Mackay was so please he claimed "Tradie undies saved his life". Goofellow continued the media frenzy, by inviting Mackay to be the face of Tradie for an outdoor media campaign: causing an intrigued television news crew to turn up to the photoshoot for an insider's look. Goodfellow and team consistently scour the market for stories from their fans, and jump at the opportunity to dial them up into something bigger.
4. Embrace Novelty
Innovation experts agree that while you may drive volume from a small number of your products, it's important to consistently innovate your pipeline in ways that force a double-take. These innovations may not become best sellers, but they will assure your position as a thought leader, and the player with the most momentum. In a bid to stay in the spotlight, Tradie consistently release eye-catching product, including a range of UV glow in the dark underwear (and encourage wearers to drop their pants on the dance floor), collaborations with street artist Mulga and well known confectionary brands like Chupa Chups, novelty prints featuring Where's Waldo and 'Big Pouch' underwear using bra mould technology to shape the pouch without seams. They are even working on bringing the popular 80s trend of hypercolor back.
5. Select Your Brand Ambassador Wisely
Australians are notorious for their tall poppy syndrome and can see through a fake or arrogant ambassador instantly. These sorts of missteps destroy brand equity in a flash. The number one rule Tradie uses when selecting any brand ambassador is fondly named the 'beer test'. The brand asks if a regular Aussie who bumps into the ambassador at the local pub or event feels comfortable enough to share a beer and a few stories without being moved along. If a potential ambassador is genuinely this type of person, he's spot on for Tradie. With persistent efforts like these, the word Tradie has become synonymous with much more than just Tradesmen; it is now the proud identity of blue collar Australians working in any numbers of jobs. This myopic focus on their target, has allowed Tradie to carve out a powerful and aspirational niche.
6. Accept The Mayhem And Embrace Your Constraints
In an environment of fast paced growth it's easy for the day-to-day mayhem to take control and stifle creativity, innovation and a accelerate the loss of brand DNA. With these circumstances as a permanent backdrop, it's critical to force yourself to take time out to think, creatively and with as much ferocity as you did in year one. Tradie make a habit of carving out dedicated time for innovative thinking, and deliberately interrupt the myopic focus on finances, logistics and approvals. On top of this, the team are committed to celebrating wins, no matter how small, and enjoy their status as the #2 player in the market. Goodfellow says, "It's more fun to nip at the heels of the internationally owned multinational player who's excessive overheads and red tape make it the ideal competitor to challenge".
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Over time the word Tradie has begun to mean so much more to Australians than just Tradesmen, it is now the proud identity of blue collar Australians working in any numbers of jobs.