My First Brand Love
When I first starting absorbing the brand of Adidas, I was in the 5th grade, and it was the circulating rumor that the brand name stood for “All Day I Dream About Sex”. So, naturally, as an adolescent, that suggested something scandalous, risqué, dirty, fun, alternative and combining that with the various ways people would pronounce it, made it even more mysterious.
Me pictured with my faux-striped sweats in 1980
Then as a teenager, wanting to be good at a sport, I leaned towards soccer (for a few minutes). But in those few moments, the two brands dominating were Adidas and Diadora. These two great names in name had mystery, European heritage, relevant and interesting endorsements and later as a designer I can see even the visual dance of typography working in their favor.
But it has been the consistency of Adidas’ that has had them always take pole position as an everlasting classic brand. They never let their guard down on the creation of the Stan Smith, except to offer in a variety of colors which is both innovative yet, maintaining standards cementing them as a solid brand with integrity. Those three stripes, regardless of how they made themselves evident, through color, fabric, perforated air vent holes, solids, patterns and textures – they committed and that’s commendable.
Over the last decade, Nike, Reebok, Nautica, Timberland, Fila, and several others have tried to keep ahead of fashion or trail quickly behind to remain a player in a very finicky marketplace and some have done admirably and others desperate at their conviction and execution bringing them down in class and “brand” stature. With younger generations take the lead on establishing these trends, securing approachable and likable personalities and pro athletes have been the key to clinching thought leadership and brand acceptance. From there, the chain of brand acceptance travels up to older generations wanting to hold onto their youth and to connect with the younger gen’s.
And this has worked perfectly for Adidas throughout the years, minus a few years, where we, as a civilization fell off the wagon of restraint and delve straight into the abyss of excess (Reebok and Nike played nicely into that time period), where Adidas didn’t fare so well, THANKFULLY.
Likes & Fans & Shares
Then social media came around and has allowed all of these players to get in the game and connect with their fans via interest-triggered posts, non-traditional media components such as viral videos, leading edge animations and strategic, sexy and playful videos of celebrities endorsing, reacting and embracing these footwear brands.
One of which is still one of my favorite videos of all time – featuring a diverse motley crew of high net worth individuals and even more valuable to Adidas, about a dozen social influencers, any brand would want hocking their wares. And here they all are together at the greatest party of all time with a classic soundtrack. Some of the celebrities getting their “brand-on” are: (shown here) Katy Perry and design collaborator Jeremy Scott, and including: Run DMC, David Beckham, Kevin Garnett, Missy Elliott, Ilie Năstase, Russell Simmons, Kimora Simmons, Mark Gonzales, Young Jeezy, Estelle, Redman, Methodman, Chad Hugo and the Ting Tings.
Other Partnerships I’ve Enjoyed
Adidas has been able to expand into a more couture-centric celebration through their partnership with Yohji Yamamoto. Yohji, an influential Japanese fashion designer fro Tokyo/Paris is considered a master tailor and known for his avant-garde work featuring Japanese design aesthetics. His partnership with Adidas is through the sub-brand of Y3.
And a must-watch: The Y3 2017 Spring/Summer Runway Show
Another out-of-the-box ambassador for Adidas, is the Hip Hop Trooper. Also known as Eugene “Stryder” Brown, he’s been incorporating cosplay, design, costuming, music and brand ambassador, not by being endorsed, but out of respect for the brand. (think LL Cool J and RunDMC).
Which Leads Me to Today
I am seeing everyone walking around with Adidas on them in some way or form.
Tshirts, hats, pants, bags, backpacks, (sometimes even on their feet) – which brings me to this next observation for consideration. Is oversaturation of the Adidas brand eminent?
I live in Atlanta and travel around quite a bit. Recently, I’ve spent time in San Francisco, Asheville NC, and this week I am in Boston and am fascinated by the saturation the Adidas brand has had on multiple generations. Walking down Newbury Street in Boston yesterday, I saw more than 20 or 30 examples of the legendary trefoil logo present, in several cases, obnoxiously over-scaled and in some cases, not following suit with the graphic standards I’ve become so used to seeing.
Is this wrong?
Not at all. But it does give me pause around my own understanding and self-interest around the brand, if everyone else is wearing it this way, seems less special, seems like the brand is starting to jump the shark. Much like what has happened to Fila, Nautica, Polo, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Ed Hardy (thank goodness) and several others.
BTW, while sharing this write-up with my wife and 20 year-old daughter, the question around “what does Jumping the Shark mean”?, so I thought I’d add this for reference:
One reason for this whole inquiry is the showing up of the trefoiled logo at stores such as Ross, Marshals and Nordstrom Rack. When this happens, it’s usually the beginning of the end for a brand to be considered special and unique. It’s more than household at this point, it’s bordering on discount, which are often perceived to be of lesser quality, craftsmanship, second runs or overstocks – which for Adidas, this is the first time I’ve seen this much saturation for them in the market.
Well, as a brand strategist, designer and lifelong ambassador for the brand of Adidas, I do.
What can I do?
What it does remind me?
What it mean to love a brand. This constant reminder, this market saturation of a brand I personally endorse, is providing me time to ponder the thought process around why we like something or even, desire their products. I will continue wearing my white on white Stan Smith’s 250 days a year and hope they remain a brand champion and continue on for another 70 years. Thank you Adolf Dassier!