Case study: How Reef uses Tracksuit to track its brand evolution
Building a brand is one thing, but what does it take to diversify and evolve it?
Reef, a surf-inspired footwear company, has been on a journey of expanding its brand. Founded in 1984 and originally known for selling comfortable, surfer-style flip-flops, Reef made the conscious decision to broaden its market by introducing more fashion-forward footwear.
Meryl McCurry, Reef's Head of Brand Strategy, explains: "Where we've evolved, especially over the last three to four years, is adding style and going beyond just three-point flip flops. We still want to make the most comfortable footwear, but we want to make comfortable footwear that is also stylish."
The goal, she says, is to expand Reef into new categories and use cases while ensuring that its core brand — rooted in comfort — stays strong.
Broadening Reef's marketing landscape
So, how has Reef adapted its strategy to meet its brand and marketing goals?
According to Meryl, growing the company's brand aperture involves engaging with customers at different parts of the funnel, launching strategic collaborations, and measuring results.
Meeting customers from top to bottom (of the funnel) 🌪️
Reef's marketing initiatives historically involved a lot of top-of-the-funnel efforts designed to get on the radar of the surfer community. Meryl says these initiatives typically include sponsoring surf athletes and establishing a presence at surf shops.
And while Reef continues to implement these tactics, the company has also expanded its approach to include bottom-of-the-funnel strategies and direct-to-consumer sales. Today, Reef's visibility extends beyond surf stores. The brand embraces a strong online presence through social media and enables shoppers to purchase directly from Reef.com.
According to Meryl, the next step is ensuring that all of Reef's brand components fuse together seamlessly.
"Where we're trying to move over the next couple of years is bringing these things together. How do we stay authentic to our brand heritage and continue to tell the stories and the things we care about while also linking that with our new products and the consumers we're going after?"
"That's a little bit of what's been churning, and we're really trying to go big on this over the next few years."
Brand collaborations 🤝
Reef has also launched some notable collaborations. The brand recently partnered with the astrology insights company Sanctuary, creating a limited edition collection featuring Reef's Vista Hi sandals inspired by zodiac signs.
Meryl says this collaboration was a strategic move to attract a younger customer base. Since Reef wanted to expand its audience, it made sense to tap into the growing interest in astrology among younger consumers.
The collaboration definitely helped Reef achieve that.
"We exceeded our sell-through goals, and we saw that consumers going for the Sanctuary collab indexed younger, which was exactly what we were going for," shares Meryl.
Tracking and measuring brand evolution
As with any brand initiative, the best way to determine if you're on the right track is to… well, track your brand performance.
This is where Tracksuit comes in.
According to Meryl, Tracksuit's longitudinal views let her and the Reef team track brand perception over time.
"When we first started Tracksuit about a year ago, it was just a snapshot in time. But now we're able to see the brand's movement, and that's something that will be increasingly valuable as we're trying to shift our brand perception in an authentic way," she says.
Meryl adds that the attribute statements surfaced by Tracksuit have also been beneficial.
"The other thing I find particularly helpful are those attribute 'Agree' statements, For example, statements around whether or not Reef is a stylish brand or if it's a comfortable brand."
She continues, "It also shows how we stack up against competitors. That's valuable for us to say, 'Hey, people believe Reef is the most comfortable brand and we index higher on style than other comfort-driven brands."
Such insights, says Meryl, are instrumental in the company's internal discussions, as well as in the conversations Reef has with retail partners.
Democratizing brand data 📈
Another benefit of Tracksuit is it helps make branding data more accessible to Reef's marketing team.
Coming from an analytics background, Meryl is used to tackling data and handling the deeper side of data analysis. However, wrangling data isn't everyone's strength, which is why a tool like Tracksuit is so handy.
"It's beneficial to have a dashboard that the marketing teams can access. I love that the team can just go into the dashboard and play with filters and look at things versus having to ask me to crunch some numbers. So I think the democratization of data is another powerful attribute of the tool."
"It's saved me a lot of time, and I'm sure it's saved the team time as well.”
Bringing it all together 💜
If there's one thing Reef shows us, it's the fact that a brand can stay rooted in its heritage while innovating and adapting to the changing market landscape. We love Reef's story, and it's a testament to the power of strategic marketing and brand management.
Want to follow Reef's journey? Learn more about the company on its website