Enter The Arena | Chapter 1
Enter The Arena is an ongoing journal series capturing the WYLD1 brand journey. We invite you to join us and hope you enjoy the ride as much as we have!
CHAPTER 1: A SHIRT WITH BIG AMBITIONS
Starting a new brand isn't for the faint of heart. Passion is critical, as you are certain to face an endless stream of challenges through every stage and dimension, known and unknown.
As often is the case with bold challenges, the WYLD1 brand concept was hatched over a few libations after finishing a round of golf on a trip in Eastern Washington (trip picture below).
During the discussion, my friends and I realized that the golf brands we wear were a sea of sameness, failing to provide meaningful innovation and disconnected from our beliefs and active way of life. This led us to take a deep dive into the golf and apparel industry to better understand the consumers, dynamics, landscape and opportunities. A couple of interesting areas immediately stood out:
- Sustainability: Golf brands were not authentically adopting holistic sustainability approaches. A few large sport brands and smaller golf brands were dabbling in sustainability with a small number of offerings labeled as "sustainable or eco-friendly", but these only embraced small amounts of planet friendly materials. And if any sustainable goals were stated, they were still many years out into the future. This was very surprising to us, considering the close connection (not to mention dependency) golf has to the environment, and that other apparel categories had already made transformational shifts to more comprehensive sustainability approaches.
- Innovation & Performance: The golf industry is slow moving. Synthetic materials (primarily poly petroleum-derived fabrics from the 1950s) are abundant and all tout the same performance benefits. New innovative fabric performance is scant, with product differentiation primarily coming through garment colors, graphics and prints. We were confident that through innovative fabric science, sustainable materials with unique and diverse properties could be technically blended to provide superior performance benefits with a lower environment footprint.
- Modernization: Most apparel categories have successfully shifted to align with modern consumer demands for premium performance and athleisure wear; sustainability; stronger fashion and street fusion; and digital-first approaches. Golf, and in some cases sustainable clothing, were simply lagging. We knew that if we could establish a brand foundation that connected with modern consumer desires, we would be advantageously positioned to be embraced by the next generation of golfers and consumers.
- "Lifestyle": A lot of golf brands are centered around a type of "lifestyle" rather than a greater purpose or betterment of self, society and our planet. While this type of lifestyle positioning has historically proven to connect with consumers, its appeal has been diminishing. Today’s consumers, including us, seek brands with authenticity, meaningfulness and the ambition to drive to improvement through innovation.
These research findings gave us the confidence to "Enter The Arena" as a new, differentiated golf and modern apparel brand with a focus on purpose and performance innovation through the lens of sustainability.
Then came the fun part, naming the brand. Brand naming is never easy, in part because everyone has different opinions and subjective perspectives and nobody is right or wrong. There are successful brand names that break every golden rule, and with the increasing difficulty to secure domains and trademarks, alternative brand names are becoming more prevalent. We used an objective brand name rating scale that included weighted scores for meaning, intrigue, memorability, simplicity, and being emotive.
Many rounds later, WYLD1 emerged as the winner. Why WYLD1, and what does it mean?
- WILD: living in a state of nature
- WILD: going beyond conventional bounds
- 1: leader
- Y: because we are different
After solidifying our brand name, we moved onto developing our brand architecture. It started by defining a simple objective: to prove you no longer need to compromise between performance and sustainability. We felt that to be successful in golf, activewear or lifestyle apparel, we needed to demonstrate to consumers who were wearing synthetic performance materials that sustainable materials can deliver equal or superior performance with the added benefit of helping to ensure a healthy planet for outdoor sports and recreation. A shirt with big ambitions! Having a simple objective leads to a stronger brand position that consumers can clearly understand and embrace.
Next we needed to develop a simple brand statement that would encompass our brand's purpose:
WYLD1 pioneers solutions to help protect our planet and ensure golf's future.
This was followed by defining our values, brand frameworks and establishing an aligning style identity.
While refining our brand framework, we worked on a variety of logo iterations that we felt aesthetically would connect to our brand position and be a compelling design element. The WYLD1 bird was a unanimous winner because it represented a link to nature, agility, freedom from boundaries, and golf.
Those familiar with startups know you are always parallel pathing multiple dimensions of the business. At this point we were already deep into research on how best to approach designing and developing innovative sustainable performance apparel. We had a vision. A name. And a logo.
We were on our way.
Stay tuned for Enter The Arena part 2 to learn more about the next chapter of the WYLD1 brand journey. Until then, get out and play.
-The WYLD1 Team