The Power of Trainer Branding

For the vast majority, trainer shopping is a monopoly of affordability and generally there’s a mere sigh at the price tag and we’re reluctant to loosen the purse strings or reach for the wallet. Trainer collecting has its roots way back in the ‘70s as part of the hip- hop movement that waved through New York City with uniqueness playing a big part. The sneaker industry discovered the lengths that people would go to cop off with unique sneakers, that it began the marketing of footwear “colourways” that were a limited edition, with colour schemes from a vibrant pink to the muddiest of browns. Today, pretty much every major shoe company has latched onto this and you’ll see these limited edition colourways in near enough every shop window of trainer-selling retailers. It’s now filtered down to the younger generation and the big brands that laid down the groundwork, have been creating bigger and better brand campaigns, year on year.

Whether it’s strategically done or even by default means, all brands have a stand in the minds of the marketplace, with competitive propositions in order to outdo their competitors, offering what others don’t and this is all reinforced through brand touch points and brand design to secure a place in the heart and minds of their audience. Two of the biggest trainer brands are (of course) Nike and Adidas and although they’re both associated with sport (and some would argue they’re loaded with techy buzzwords) they deviate from there with some different territory.

Customisation is forever getting more prominent and with Nike ID, there’s the chance to create your own colourways and styles of all the classic shoes. Adidas focuses more on its lifestyle and fashion divisions and Nike has its weight on the technical aspect of its footwear, renown for the trainers with the air bubble and styles that look and feel more like socks.

There’s a reliance on clever advertising as a technique to draw in new prospects to their brand and while before footwear advertisements simply featured the actual product as an image, there’s a requirement for something much more fetching - a visual stimulant to catch the consumer eye. Some brands take off down the route of changing up the advertisement’s tone of voice, into a more humourous, or even a heartfelt story or instead of a clear product placement. Another investment is the ongoing evolution of the designer/celebrity collaboration. Nike has paired up with the likes of Kanye West, Tom Sachs and Marc Newson. On top of this, social platforms have also become a great tool to help build a close connection with their audiences and technology makes it even easier to experience with brands as it’s all the more instant. Having an online presence gives the brand the perfect opportunity to implement their marketing strategies to reach their targeted audiences.

Just like another other industry, sneaker brands have a goal to make sure you spot people wearing their brand and whether it’s Nike’s swoosh, Adidas’ three stripes or New Balances' big “N”, their logos can be identified by anyone who knows even the smallest amount about athletic footwear.

While branding is integral part of a shoe, in recent years some brands have quieted down on the “loud and clear” front and gotten away with minimal or almost no branding and remained triumphant. Nike is a master of minimal branding and although there are many styles with big words emblazoned across the entire shoe, there are also many other styles from Nike that threw the swoosh out of the window and that let the design speak for itself!

Advertisement for brands can come more subtly as we can witness sportspeople exhibiting the brands before the official release date or music artists rapping a couple of lines in a verse about how many trainers or “sneakers” they’ve got stored up and this has also added to the capitalized demand for some one-off trainers that quickly become collectors’ items. With their rarity and being upon everyone’s wish list, it can mean trainer collectors ferreting them away in their boxes and hardly wearing them in case they become scuffed. With media coverage, camping outside retailers before release dates or even people being murdered just to cop a pair, is the emotional connection with the consumer a little too strong?

Charlotte Allen