After decades of being known as the classic dad shoe, New Balance has turned its brand identity on its head to capture millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. A large part of the brand’s recent revamping is thanks to the work of Chris Davis, New Balance’s CMO. Davis has been a part of the brand for 14 years where he first started out as an events operations manager during the 2008 Beijing Olympics for New Balance. Since being appointed CMO in April 2020, Davis and New Balance’s marketing department have operated by following two rules: If you’re standing still, you’re moving backward. And also: Your marketing and partnerships are a reflection of your values as a brand.
Davis describes New Balance’s marketing as storytelling first, products second.
“New Balance’s [storytelling] is rooted in our fiercely independent mindset and our constant desire to reveal our memories and communicate our values..We take an autobiographical approach with consumers, meaning every time we can communicate with consumers, we’re introducing ourselves,” Davis said.
In the past two years, New Balance has shifted away from a middle- and lower-funnel marketing organization to one that prioritizes upper-funnel emotional marketing content.
New Balance’s approach to partnerships consists of a co-authored approach where partners are heavily involved in product and content strategy and business planning overall.
New Balance first partnered with fashion brand Aime Leon Dore in 2019, and it teamed with independent designer Joe Freshgoods in 2020. Musicians and athletes such as Aminé, Jack Harlow, LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling are members of New Balance’s new wave of partnerships in 2022.
“We try to identify individuals and brands who embody that fiercely independent mindset and entrepreneurial spirit so we can co-create something that intersects our values and our storytelling. Out of that comes a unique, collaborative, trustworthy process that is fully integrated, from a storytelling and creation standpoint,” Davis said.
“We’ve embraced the shift from being a product marketing organization to a brand storytelling organization. This is the formula that we utilize in order to create that level of energy around the globe, whether it’s in sports, fashion or entertainment. [Our marketing formula is about connecting] the right story with the right cultural ambassador at the right moment in time, and if we’re able to culturally connect with consumers during the right moments of time when they want to be spoken to, the engagement levels are off the charts,” said Davis.
Even after its recent rebranding, Davis believes that New Balance will continue to change and transform into an even more influential brand.
“If consumers like what they’ve seen from New Balance over the course of the last 24 months, what they see over the next four years is going to far exceed that. You’ll see us penetrate the fashion space in a greater way rather than [only] in streetwear culture, runway culture or entertainment. As a global sportswear brand, it’s our responsibility to communicate the stylistic expression our ambassadors have in a unique manner to connect with consumers in a different way,” Davis said.
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