Rapha – building a brand through creativity

Next week Design Week and Creative Review are co-hosting a session on marketing and creativity as part of this year’s Advertising Week Europe.

The Rapha website
The Rapha website

We’ll be talking to cycling brand Rapha, looking at how they set up their brand, how they built their reputation and in particular how they use their content and develop communities.

Rapha was co-founded by Simon Mottram, a former branding consultant who has worked for Interbrand and Circus. He identified not just a new sector – aspirational cycling clothing – but a rather offbeat brand position. Launched with an exhibition called The Kings of Pain, Rapha has always celebrated the suffering and sacrifices made by cyclists, professional or otherwise.

Creative approaches to both content and retail spaces, with Rapha’s London store set up as a community hub rather than a traditional shop, have seen the brand mature from niche clothing brand to a major player in the cycling scene. Last year it became official clothing supplier to Team Sky, the world’s leading road-racing team.

There are lots of parallels between Rapha and the brands featured in new book the Challenger’s Almanac, which profiles ‘businesses worth much more than the money they make’, and which we wrote about this week.

The book, which is launching on Kickstarter, features profiles of company’s such as Hiut Denim, set up by David Hieatt in Cardigan, West Wales, to use the skills and knowhow left behind in the town when a large denim factory left, and new material Sugru, invented by Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh.

Sugru's Jane Ni Dhulchaontigh is featured in the Challenger's Alamanac
Sugru’s Jane Ni Dhulchaontigh is featured in the Challenger’s Alamanac

While these brands could be defined as ‘challengers’, their creativity, offbeat approaches and successes provide many valuable lessons for companies of all sizes.

Rapha: Building a Brand Through Creativity is presented by Design Week and Creative Review and takes place at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London W1J on 1 April. For more information visit advertisingweek.eu.

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