UNITED DSN
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: JEREMY KORESKI

Pelican Products / Leveraging technical brilliance, to build an iconic lifestyle brand.


Pelican, manufacturers of the best protective equipment cases in the world, sought to establish a consumer brand to match their A-list commercial status.

To do so, it was critical that Pelican develop a truly aspirational message that would speak to and engage the tech-savvy, quality-focused, outdoor consumer: an audience to which Pelican was virtually unknown.

However, working with Pelican was about more than brand storytelling and design. We not only ensured that Pelican owned the identity and marketing strategy required to reach the people they needed to most, but also gave their growing in-house team the thinking, tools and processes required to market themselves effectively.

 
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Lawrence Haggerty / Partner
lawrence@uniteddsn.com
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“Prior to our appointment, Pelican had minimal consumer face or personality. In fact, in the minds of the outdoor consumer they wanted to reach, Pelican represented very little at all. United changed that. We created a positioning and marketing culture internally that both stood for something and really made a difference. In a market dense with established companies, we created a stand-out message that made Pelican a brand consumers wanted to be associated with. More than that, we made them credible.”
 
Lawrence Haggerty / Partner

 

Unboxing the brief

For over forty years, Pelican has been known commercially as the industry standard in equipment protection. No matter what the challenge or conditions, Pelican always protects your gear.

The business was looking to grow its brand, taking it into completely new territory for the company. Having established an unmatched reputation in non-consumer circles (such as professional photography and film) it made sense to replicate this elsewhere.

However, despite their superior product offering, as well as a range of innovative, lifestyle products already available to buy, the levels of consumer brand recognition required simply weren't there.

We needed to understand why...

Carrying out a full audience and competitor audit, we analyzed how the existing brand was being perceived and why. This offered four key areas for consideration to drive our creative and strategic direction. Creating a culture with a more meaningful story.

1. Marketing Culture

Despite their incredible heritage and reputation, Pelican possessed limited organizational understanding of how to leverage brand storytelling and had barely any of the tools and assets in place required to do so. We therefore needed to support their team (from top to bottom) in terms of developing a consumer marketing culture.

2. Category Trends

With so many copycat military-grade products in the market, Pelican’s underdeveloped lifestyle messaging was being drowned out by more effectively marketed, consumer-savvy brands. It was vital therefore that we identified Pelican’s true brand DNA and tell a clearer, more meaningful story.

3. Audience Insight

Pelican hadn’t identified what today’s diverse and influential outdoors consumers really expected from a lifestyle brand. We knew this meant they needed to rationalize their product purpose more clearly, and present themselves in increasingly multi-channel, lifestyle orientated ways.

4. Price-Point

Due to the incredible technical quality of Pelican products, their manufacturing processes are expensive, meaning the price-point of their products would always remain relatively high. This meant attracting the right kind of consumer was essential, one that was unafraid to invest in owning the best.

 

Brand
Articulation

 
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Leveraging a world-class manufacturing story

With these factors in mind, we developed a deeper, more meaningful brand story focused on overall product promise instead of commercial and military heritage alone.

This included information about the vast amounts of R&D, tooling quality and associated costs, as well as the sheer passion and commitment shared by the team throughout the manufacturing process: attributes no competitor could claim.

Everything Pelican creates is about protecting something valuable (from cases designed for professional-grade photography equipment to the tools necessary for transporting organs for medical transplant). We took these impressive credentials and crafted an overarching message of ‘owning protection’ to support a lifestyle messaging and visual framework that would fundamentally set them apart.

Due to the aspirational nature of their product story, the highest quality of photography and locations was key. We developed and directed an approach to photography at a level that far exceeded anything previously seen in the category. One that capitalized on incredible locations, environments and wild outdoor pursuit scenarios, as well as showcasing a more diverse range of uses and applications.

Together, this succeeded in presenting Pelican as the innovative, highly functional, practical and forward-thinking brand they needed to be in the face of such a highly competitive segment.

 

Audience
Engagement

 
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With a clearly defined brand DNA now in place, our next objective was to develop Pelican’s go-to-market strategy, ensuring that every channel would be used to maximum effect.

This included product placement, social media and influencer programs, advertising campaigns, TV spots, print collateral, trade show materials, packaging and wider digital assets.

In turn, we developed the tools and assets required internally to control and manage the brand through multiple retailer channels both in the physical world and online, giving the Pelican team the visibility and control they required to deliver their campaigns longer-term.

Ultimately, the new brand program enabled Pelican to not only gain representation in new retailer channels and build the necessary levels of consumer awareness of the lifestyle brand, but also enabled them to become more autonomous as a marketing organization. This included managing global activity and working with multiple external partners, such as agencies, more effectively, growing critical market share.

Pelican TV Spot / Tofino

Pelican TV Spot / open Ocean

Pelican TV Spot / Hawaii

 

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