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   Last modified: October 22, 2013

On Being Cool…

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As AC grows and grows up (sort of), as the Marketing and Brand Manager one of the things that I struggle with is how to stay "cool" as the brand continues to grow and we move from upstart to established brand.  You can look at many examples in the bike world, of once niche brands that the core audience has turned against simply because they've grown larger. Or use music as an example: how may bands did you once think were awesome but once they became popular to a mainstream audience you dropped, etc...

This plagues me regularly as I make all sorts of major and minor decisions that affect the brand in large and small ways on the daily. 

Let me admit that the first problem is striving to be "cool" in the first place, because that shit is elusive as hell. If  you aren't already, you never will be, if you have to ask, you'll never know. Me admitting that I want you to think All-City is a cool company probably just shattered all your illusions (if you had any) that we are in fact remotely cool at all.

When thinking of people that I think are cool, I often think of my good buddy Trevor of Surly Bikes or our rider Nico. Now Trevor is stylish and all that, but what makes Trevor the best guy around is that he really doesn't give a flying fuck what you think of him. He knows himself and is truly comfortable in his own skin. When someone loves themself and is comfortable with their faults and strengths it's attractive as hell.

When I think of cool companies and brands, after some careful consideration and throwing out the obvious players in our urban cycling scene, I'm left with Patagonia and my sister brand Surly. Why do I think these companies are cool? It's not the logos, it's not the collabs, it's not the website.  They're cool because much like the human example I just provided they lead with their values and stand for something.

Cool is vapid, cool is vanishing, cool is bullshit. But values, (as your mom might reiterate) is all you're left with when you strip away the unimportant things. Both in our lives and relationships, and in the companies you support. That's what it ultimately comes down to.

So as AC continues to grow, the thing I keep coming back to if we want to stay relevant and lead the way and be "cool", is to just keep making things that we believe in, treat customers fairly, treat our shops fairly, and try to do the best we can to support the cycling community.

It's a simple formula that sometimes gets lost in the bustle of new logos, color ways, social media hype, and other shit. 

You can hate All-City, you can love All-City, you can think we're nerds (we are), you can think we're the coolest motherfuckers since Fonzie, but at the end of the day all I can really hope for is that you respect us for the mission that we're out here to accomplish: To do right by the community, support local bike shops, support the events, support the riders, and treat people in a manner that is both just and fair. 

It's a tall order, but you've got to have something that guides you, and that is ours.

Sorry if the above is rambling, there is just so much that goes into my thought process on the concept of being cool, it's the currency that as the Marketing wing I strive to traffic in. But yet it's also so so dumb. So I'm giving up on cool, and going after respect instead. 

I just want the people who come into contact with our bikes, parts, brand, to respect what we do and hopefully have a damn fine time riding our stuff.

xoxo
jeffrey

Comments image
Farouk

Farouk

October 23, 2013

I think that’s a good take on ‘cool’. Stick to your values and your audience will know what you stand for, and cool will be irrelevant.

Farouk

Farouk

October 23, 2013

What i don’t think is cool is that you didn’t also post this on Twitter. I am in the process of dropping all the brand content from Facebook, and I’d hate to miss out on your posts.

Tim H

Tim H

October 23, 2013

Thanks for sharing Jeff. I think you’re on the right track, values are the way to go. Speaking of Patagonia, here’s a great article about their thoughts on consumption and growth.

http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=87969

Steve

Steve

October 24, 2013

First time, long time. You’re already doing a bunch of the right things from where I’m sitting.. Here’s my unsolicited advice. On branding; Keep an eye on other cool brands in other industries. Iron & Resin comes to mind. Full of over priced stuff that I’d never buy, but the look and feel of their blog is kickass. Continue letting the interwebbies into your lifestyle and values with your blog. Lots of peeps will identify with what you’re doing and know that you build products that you yourself love to use. That’s huge for brand recognition. Funny, I actually discovered AC while shopping for a bike on Craigslist.. Random find. Bought a Dropout LTD as my daily driver. You might want to build a mailing list as well if you don’t already have one. Pepper us with news and deals from time to time if we get too busy to check the blog. On the Surly model.. There’s no public human face on the Surly brand that I can see. But there really doesn’t need to be at this point because they’ve already earned respect. Their values have come through in the details of their products for several years. One can tell that they ride what they make just by looking at the details. On the details.. Both Surly and AC build riders rides. Real world sheit. Coating the inside of your frames with ED etc.. I don’t think many other builders do that. We riders really appreciate the details. On diversifying.. Keep building what you love to ride and you’ll be ok. Like riding 29 single speeds with rack mounts for camping and a solid CS yoke for 2.4 tires? Me too. Get one out there. We’ll buy it. On materials.. I think Redline has a good model with their monocog. They have one with light sanko tubing and one with 4130. It’s great to have a choice when you’ve got some extra money to spend on your next ride. Best of luck to you all. Steve in Boston

Bob

Bob

October 24, 2013

    The space horse is the best bike I have ever owned.  It literally does everything.  I know I could do the same shit on a cross-check or a whatever as long as it has fender and rack mounts/room for 42c or whatever, but the Space Horse is also a beautiful. I don’t know if this makes AC cool or not, but I’ll be damned if you guys aren’t doing something right.

nerd patrol

nerd patrol

October 25, 2013

how about a post ‘on being nerds’ then?

Larry

Larry

October 28, 2013

I think being cool comes with being passionate. Say passionate about your brand, and it will stay cool.

Ben

Ben

October 28, 2013

You can’t really try to be cool or try to make your brand cool. Cool comes when you care about your brand. Care more about your brand than your own personal gain, it will continue to be cook. I say continue, because I think you have been doing a damn good job of it so far.

Ben

Johny

Johny

March 21, 2015

Cool with me

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