YETI: Building a Lifestyle Brand Through Stories

Founded in 2006 by two brothers, YETI launched the premium cooler category with its first high-quality, hard case model cooler. The YETI coolers start around $200 and range up to $1,300, far above the price range of the $20-$30 coolers you can pick up from Walmart. With the superior quality, durability, and performance of their coolers, YETI offers a product as premium as their price point. However, to sell their products YETI must illustrate why customers need this high-quality cooler in their lives. YETI’s revenue exceeds $469 million (reported sales in 2015), proving that people are lining up to buy their pricey products. The coolers are worth every penny to customers, because YETI isn’t just selling a way to keep food and beverages cold; they are selling a lifestyle. YETI uses the stories of its founders, customers and ambassadors to position their brand as tough and resilient—“built for the wild” —making YETI synonymous with outdoor adventures.

YETI’S STORY

Brothers, Ryan and Roy Seiders, started YETI because of their passion for the outdoors. Growing up hunting, fishing, and traveling to outdoor industry trade shows, the brothers developed a deep appreciation for wild game, unfamiliar territory and quality gear. Through their experiences, they found that the coolers available weren’t up to the task of taking on outdoor adventures. They created a solution with YETI Coolers. This is a solution for the outdoor enthusiast who will put the cooler to the test out in the field and in the water. The Seider brothers keep their own story and this target customer in mind, positioning the YETI lifestyle brand as the essential element of any great outdoor adventure.

STORYTELLING WITH CONTENT MARKETING

The YETI website features a tab under This is YETI to display Stories of the YETI Community. The stories exemplify how YETI and their customers are “Built for the Wild”. As Mother’s Day approaches, the current featured story is My Mom Vala, a story of outdoor adventure, independence, and motherhood. The story is in the form of a high-quality video production from the point of view of Vala’s daughter, Mathilda. Mathilda describes her busy mother who is always on the go in their Icelandic life. Vala became a single mother at age 19 and runs a fishing and hunting business while raising Mathilda with strong values. Vala knows that Mathilda “will be independent and stand on her own two feet”. The story exemplifies the spirit of being tough and resilient, two attributes of YETI’s brand. The YETI products are placed very subtly, only featured in the short film once near the end when Mathilda grabs her YETI gear to join her family fishing.

My Mom Vala is just one video among many on the website that highlight stories with values aligning with the YETI lifestyle. In the video A Hunt, Cole Kramer hunts for the entire experience of taking on one of the hardest mountain hunts in the world, the trophy-sized blue sheep. After the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, Brandon “Moose” Johnson used his truck to rescue victims in Texas as shown in the short film Moose. These, and other stories, can be found on the stories tab of YETI.com and filtered by “Pursuits”: including Fishing, Hunting, Outdoor, Ranch & Rodeo, and BBQ.

In an interview with YETI Content Marketing Manager, Harrison Lindsey, he describes purpose behind these short films. He said that “it’s human nature to crave stories, seek out inspiration and connect with characters. We want them to walk away form a film feeling different attributes of the brand. If we do connect with them on that level, we begin to build equity with a consumer. It allows us to not always be selling, but give a different note of communication in the consumer journey.”

STORIES OF YETI BRAND AMBASSADORS

YETI’s use of brand ambassadors further solidifies the brand as the gateway to the wild and adventure. The ambassador tab on the YETI website contains profiles and Q&A with their YETI Ambassadors. The first featured ambassador, Cooper Davis, is a professional bull rider who has broken both ankles, a shoulder, and his jaw and preceded to win the World Finals in 2015 and the World Championship in 2016.

Brand ambassador, Tatum Monod, had the itch to start skiing at age 12 and entered the “ultra-wild, incredibly dangerous” world of free-skiing. She was named the 2014 and 2017 Freeskier of the Year and Powder Magazine’s Best Female Performance in 2017.

John Florence, surfing prodigy, is one of five surfers in the Men’s Championship Tour history to win two World Titles back to back. He fearlessly conquered the most famous wave in the world, the Pipeline.

Each of these brand ambassadors are “built for the wild” much like YETI coolers, and they are grounded in family values that can be seen both on their profile and in the Q&A. Davis’ profile features his time in Jasper, Texas spent with his wife and three-year old son. Monod spends quality time fly-fishing with her dad and Florence finds the peak of his happiness anytime he is in the company of his mom, brother, and good friends. The stories of brand ambassadors are portrayed as both tough and adventurous like YETI’s products and grounded in values like their customers.

THE MANY STORIES OF YETI SELL PRODUCTS

The stories that compose the YETI brand make people want to live the life of a YETI customer. The YETI customer is one that adventures on a wild river in a kayak, explores the backcountry, lets nothing stand in their way, all while staying grounded in family values. Whether it is bonding over fly-fishing, adventuring, or at the BBQ pit, the YETI products will accompany you and those close to you. The products will “be by your side” and “hold down the fort” keeping your goods chilled ‘til you’re good and ready. By purchasing a YETI product, you are purchasing a wild adventure built for whatever Mother Nature will throw your way. When adventure calls, people buy YETI products that are “built for the wild”, as tough and resilient as the people using them.

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