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Vully Trampolines Rebranding Helps Firm Bounce Back

Chris Dickman Thu, 08/14/2014 - 08:57

Excerpted from Design Currency: Understand, define, and promote the value of your design work by Jenn Visocky O'Grady, Ken Visocky O'Grady. Copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.

Ordering trampolines from China and distributing them out of your parents’ basement isn’t the worst start-up business model. In fact, it might lead to engineering and mastering the craft yourself and consequently becoming the leader in high-end trampolines.

Next step? Move into the global marketplace and crush the competition.
After years of building a reputation and bouncing around the identity “Trampolines Australia,” this athletic equipment specialist realized its name was limiting promotional efforts and public perception. To expand into broader global markets, the company would need an identity that reflected its personality and core purpose. Think like a trampoline: fun and surprising, but with safety and expert engineering in mind.

Goals: Redefining the Trampoline

What Trampolines Australia really wanted was to be taken seriously. Many people think of trampolines as a backyard toy—the founder wanted a stronger, more serious presence. He also wanted to take the prize as top vendor in his genre, with the ability to globalize his marketing campaigns. He set his sights on entry into international markets, specifically with retail giant Toys“R”Us in the United States.

A new name and mark were essential to transform Trampolines Australia into Vuly, a top vendor of professional-quality sporting equipment.

To claim position as a top vendor, Trampolines Australia would need to raise the perceived value of its product line. It had to redefine its brand, from novelty to a top-of-the-line tool built for a competitive athlete.

Glitschka Studios of Salem, Oregon, was up to the challenge. Principal Von Glitschka recognized that bridging the gap between “fun pastime” and “seriously engineered for safety” would be a collaborative effort with the client. He learned that Trampolines Australia did a lot more than just sell recreational equipment; it also supported professional athletes. One such partnership was with Aussie trampoline gymnast Blake Gaudry, a national champion who had recently dominated (say it in unison) synchro trampolining events and was headed to the 2012 Summer Olympics. For consumers, this means Trampolines Australia products are professionally adapted, delivering the same impeccable quality to high-end users and hobbyists alike. Glitschka Studios stepped in to tell this story and transform the client’s brand from backyard enthusiast to national champion.

Outputs: Rebranding, from Toy Maker to Athletic Juggernaut

Glitschka immediately recognized the client’s weak identity as its Achilles heel. The name Trampolines Australia didn’t emphasize the product’s quality or do the company any favors in a global market. The design challenge was aligning the client’s overall core marketing and corporate identity with a more coherent and consistent brand aesthetic, boasting quality engineered trampolines for athletes and recreation seekers alike.

After conducting research on the trampoline market, Glitschka began the task of transforming a corporate identity, but there were some bumps along the way. Trampolines Australia had pushed hard to move stateside and had ideas about how its redesigned logo might resemble the popular and well-recognized identity of the National Basketball Association (NBA), with its silhouetted figure encapsulated on both sides by fields of color. The owner wanted to reference this successful style.

Glitschka gave pause to this request, deciding the best approach was to be brutally honest with the client and say “no.” He warned of potential legal implications and impending cease and desist orders. But more so, he educated his client on the pitfalls of trying to capitalize on the NBA’s equity: “Why would you want to introduce yourself to a new marketplace of millions, and right out of the gate say ‘we can’t come up with our own ideas and we have to play off of others?’ The obvious second thought in many people’s minds will be, ‘Do they do the same thing with their products?’” Glitschka pushed for a proper introduction with a new name and unique identity.

Hex Vex is a game printed directly onto the surface of the trampoline. Unique to the Vuly brand, Hex Vex is based on training tools used by professional trampoline athletes and is intended to help build coordination. The icons above appear as part of the Hex Vex game.

Trampolines Australia agreed, opening the door to a massive brand overhaul. Glitschka says that what started as an uncomfortable conversation “brought a new level of trust to our business relationship: we had his best interest in mind and he knew it.” That straightforward relationship would positively influence the pace of subsequent stages of the project.

Glitschka worked to create a brand personality that was strong and clear, sophisticated and sporting. Derived from the Latin term Vulcanus (God of Fire), the newly named Vuly Trampolines nods to the Roman god of metal who created iron, armor, jewelry, weapons, and art. The Vuly mark combines an iconic flame and circular motif, emphasizing trampolines and affirming the craftsmanship of its products.

The rebranding was comprehensive, unifying collateral across the organization, from product catalogsto environmental design, business cards and more.

The overlying theme was of a fiercely professional product that wasn’t afraid of having fun.

Through the new corporate identity, catalogs and other print collateral, games, uniforms, and product graphics, brand messaging reinforces that Vuly is improving the industry through education, sponsorship, research, and development of innovative new products, all with a family focus in mind.

Outcomes: Vuly Sticks the Landing

Vuly’s growth soared some 20 percent after the launch of Glitschka’s re-branding efforts. The company that long ago started in the founder’s parents’ garage secured the position of top trampoline vendor in Australia, and it landed a distribution deal with Toys“R”Us. Plans are underway to usher in Vuly’s products to the United States.

For Glitschka Studios, the learning process went beyond the challenge of marketing Olympic-worthy trampolines. The experience reinforced the importance of talking openly and honestly with clients despite risking offense to their business sensibilities. He stresses that if it improves the client’s marketing efforts in the long run, it’s worth a potentially difficult conversation.

The rebranding was comprehensive, unifying collateral across the organization, from product catalogsto environmental design, business cards and more.

Glitschka now uses Vuly’s 20 percent sales increase and rebranding from toy to serious athletic resource as an example he can show to other clients who need to be nudged out of their comfort zone. “Once a company gets comfortable with their brand—good or bad—it’s hard to get them to think differently about it and see how a rebrand would benefit them,” he says. The Vuly model exemplifies the measurable benefits of a trusted creative partnership.

Vuly loves its new corporate identity and continues to transform the trampoline industry, while Glitschka develops new work for the client which is proving popular in the marketplace. Reflecting on what makes a job rewarding, Glitschka says, “When a company is passionate about what they do, it makes designing for them a lot easier and far more enjoyable.”

The Vuly brand personality is strong and sporting, and those traits are projected through the company’s partnerships with the professional athletes who choose its product. Glitschka wisely enforced brand associations by extending the new visual identity to professional uniforms and trampoline boards.

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