The difference between a great running apparel brand and a good brand (they’re all at least good brands, Brent) is the ability to create a sense of community. For these brands, getting a consumer to purchase and fall in love with a shoe is half the battle.
This is especially true for newcomers to the running world, who are trying out products from different companies to find the best fit for them—both in terms of the gear and the sense of community as well. The key to keeping newbie runners invested in your brand is offering value outside of the shoe, as well as being welcoming of runners of all skill-level.
Instagram is a haven for running brands, with the opportunity to showcase their latest shoe, partner with running influencers, sponsor athletes with a massive following, and, overall, cultivate a winning message and brand image. It’s also an excellent platform for attracting hobby joggers that are looking to increase their commitment to the sport, which means more mileage, which means better gear for avoiding injury and getting the most out of their workout.
Getting into any hobby that demands heavy physical activity can be daunting. A great running brand should create an image and a message of acceptance. For example, not merely catering to experienced, tried-and-true runners and posting useful training tips for new runners to help them find their footing. Though Outdoor Voices has run into some trouble in recent months—and according to the New York Times, they’ve officially imploded due to the trials and tribulations as a direct-to-consumer startup—they did find some success early on as the “anti-Nike.” The athleisure-workout apparel brand tried to prove that results and competition weren’t everything when it came to sports. For brands like Saucony, it’s important to acknowledge that not every runner is looking to qualify for the Olympic trials.
I wish I had screenshotted it, but earlier this week, Saucony posted a series of images with text overlaying them on their Instagram story—not unlike the posts you’ll see later in this post. The copy listed the different reasons for running, one of which read something to the effect of, “We run for burgers and beer.” The vast majority of runners out there aren’t trying to set world records, take on double run days, or eat like movie stars cutting for a role. They just want to get outside, burn some calories, shed a little fat in the process, and be more healthy.
It’s a relatively cheap way to stay in good shape, and also offers numerous benefits mentally. I can’t count how many times a bad day has been turned into a good day just by lacing up the sneakers and logging some miles. It’s therapeutic in every sense of the word. The sport has skyrocketed in popularity for such reasons.
All these new runners are like first-year students at an SEC school, with each brand a fraternity or sorority vying for their attention (okay, maybe not the best analogy, but you get the point). And, when it comes to creating an image of positivity and community, none do it better than Saucony.
Full disclosure: When it comes to actual running shoes, I’ve only ever had Brooks (the Glycerin 17 and 18). And their social platforms share a lot of similarities with that of Saucony’s. In fact, their shoes share a lot of commonalities too, as a few former Brooks’ product designers now work at Saucony (according to my inside sources at Fleet Feet MSP). But, I think Saucony does better on the social front, which is why I chose to look at them as opposed to Brooks. And while my next pair of shoes will likely be coming from Saucony (Hello Endorphin Series *heart eyes emoji*), I’ll certainly be coming back to Brooks and will continue to advocate for them because I’ve loved the Glycerin series of theirs. End of Tangent.
Located on their ‘About us’ page, these two images with copy overlay illustrate Saucony’s commitment to being for runners of all levels:
Saucony uses “good” a lot in their copy—not as an adjective, but as a noun. And while “good” may be a lazy description of something, it is a very powerful noun (think of the neverending battle of Good vs. Evil). “Good” is pure, unselfish, calm, and wholesome. And it’s the perfect word to build your brand around when trying to attract people who are looking to add a little more “good” to their lives through running. “Run For Good” has become Saucony’s slogan, and it’s a great one at that.
Even though your middle school English teacher may have told you never to use “good” in your papers, it’s an excellent word to rally around for Saucony because of its simplicity. Some of the best slogans are the most simple (“Think Different,” “Just Do it”).
But it’s truly a great slogan because, as I mentioned, it encapsulates everything new runners are hoping to find when they hit the pavement for the first time—namely, a better, more well-rounded life.
This post off of Saucony’s Instagram captures this thought perfectly and shows that they are well-aware of the psyche of their target market:
In short, Saucony is a feel-good brand, and they carry this image and feeling into their COVID-19-centric posts. Their tone is a welcome sign in these stressful and trying times, and I enjoy seeing brands spread positivity in the face of the pandemic.
This post relaying some suggestions on how to support local running shops is a good example—with soft lines on the illustrations and colors, creating a calming feeling, despite the situation. I also love the call to action of “It’s up to us to keep running retailers running.” Another example of simple but powerful copy.
Below, this seemingly effortless modification to the “Run For Good” mantra is, once again, another example of how the simplicity of the brand’s messaging can still create a resounding effect. Just by adding the word “solo,” Saucony created a smart PSA for the current times.
Another example of the “Run Solo For Good” theme.
I was particularly impressed with how they handled the delay of what is certainly going to be one of their most popular shoes in recent years, the Endorphin Pro from the aforementioned Endorphin series. Including a positive spin and then finishing with a little motivation (“—Let’s enjoy the power of a good run. Because good things come to those that run.”) is a great way to rally their community.
I enjoy seeing brands put effort into their copywriting, and Saucony has at least one more supporter because of it (that supporter is me, in case that wasn’t clear).