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Marketing and Comms
Brands People Love on Purpose, feat. Tracksmith

Tracksmith’s brand purpose: To celebrate the competitive spirit that unites runners around the world and support dedicated runners at every stage of their journey.

As an independent running brand founded on a deep love of the sport, New England-based Tracksmith makes high-quality, sustainably produced running apparel and products for runners committed to the personal pursuit of excellence. It sources from suppliers that can provide materials that will stand the test of time and miles, and materials that meet environmental standards such as bluesign® or OEKO-TEX® Certification. Its global manufacturing partners adhere to the highest supply chain standards and the brand’s Code of Conduct as a prerequisite for doing business. And it actively invests in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives — from the stories it tells to how it allocates resources and builds its team.

Tracksmith also aims to support dedicated runners at every stage of their journey through accessible programming, free in-person training, and community newsletters that provide free training advice and celebrate local running communities. Other initiatives such as its Fellowship and Amateur Support Program encourage personal development and amplify new voices within the sport. And the Tracksmith Foundation seeks to fund opportunities for youth and young adults to participate in track and field.

All of these initiatives come back to stories, says Tracksmith Brand President Ryan Eckel. And with experience growing brands including Puma and Dick’s Sporting Goods, Eckel says storytelling is key to Tracksmith’s success.

“A strong brand narrative acts like a beacon to pull people in by crafting products, experiences, and communications that work harmoniously to make customers feel something deeper than the products themselves,” he says. “Every time your brand has an opportunity to interact with its customers, recognize that each of those interactions contributes to your brand’s overall story.”

Here are five ways Eckel suggests you reconsider your own brand’s interconnectedness with its consumers from a story perspective.

  1. Know your story. Crystalize and sharpen your brand narrative — why your brand exists and the role it serves. And the simpler you can craft this story, the better.

  2. Commit to your story. Be decisive and confident in aligning your organization around your story. In a world where seemingly everything is A/B tested, resist the urge to A/B test core elements of your story. Instead, let your story guide your decisions and actions at the highest level — from strategy to product to brand communications to real-world interactions.

  3. Connect that story to people in meaningful ways. Focus on building true emotional connections with your audience; and remember that most of those connections happen outside of conventional marketing channels.

  4. Stick to your POV. Having a strong brand narrative often means having a story with a strong point of view, rooted in the brand belief, that creates some tension (in the literary sense); and strong points of view can be polarizing. That’s OK — and it probably means your story is sharp, differentiated and provocative. Stay focused on your core audience, and they’ll love you for staying true to your beliefs.

  5. Think of your brand story as a book. Organize your brand narrative into chapters and keep the plot moving to keep it interesting while staying true to the beliefs and values underlying the story.

This is how a brand becomes part of someone’s identity, Eckel says; and it only works if what a brand represents is broadly understood.

“What customers really feel when they experience these things, and what ties them all together, are shared beliefs and shared values.”

To read more on how Tracksmith, Tony’s Chocolonely and other brands are proving their purpose — and how yours can, too — check out the following resources: