On Being Cool…
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.