Branding Study: GoPro - How to Revolutionise a Dying Industry

September 30, 2016

In a little over 10 years, how have GoPro managed to completely disrupt and reinvent the video camera market which had previously been dominated by the same players for decades?

I'm fascinated with GoPro.  It's amazing, crazy and inspiring that even in a market that has such significant barriers to entry that a start-up can reinvent a market place. Think about it, it doesn't make any sense.  The video camera was essentially in terminal decline - why would you need one when you have a phone?  Even if you did want to enter this market where huge companies were dying fast, the costs associated with development and marketing are so prohibitive, it's not exactly something you'd take to your bank manager to raise funding for.

With that in mind and my branding hat on, I've been taking a look at GoPro. Surely there's lots to learn here.  How have GoPro managed to grab the attention of that most sought after demographic (16-25) and made a product which is reasonably expensive the most have fashion technology for the cool kids.

The Brand Story

It's a brilliant brand story - founder, innovator, CEO, Nicholas Woodman is a surfer-dude.  He's a cool young guy trying to get great images while he's in the water.  Everyone is using waterproof disposable cameras tied with an elastic to their wrist (remember those?!).  They're uncomfortable and hit you in the face when you surf.  Classic. He comes up with the idea, raises some cash and after 2 years comes up with a product which was a camera, in a waterproof case with 35mm film (remember that!). 

Below is a QVC feature which I love - hat tip to Forbes and the Camera Authority.

A Quick Glance at the Company

Since launch, the company has been profitable.  Ridiculous growth has seen it grown to over $1bn in sales, a floatation on the stock exchange, over 800 employees, etc.  You get the picture - it's mad growth.

Branding: What are GoPro doing Differently?

Watch any action video shot by anyone under 25 and they almost always mention that they shot it on their GoPro.  Are they being paid? Nope.  Have they been asked directly? Nope. Why then? 

Because it's cool to have a GoPro. But why?

If you have a GoPro, by association, you're part of the tribe.  The coolest people you can possibly be associated with are extreme sports enthusiasts - surfers, snowboarders, base jumpers, etc.  In the video age where content is everything, these guys are rock stars. 

They love the GoPro because it changed their market for them.  Before the GoPro it was difficult to show how amazing the stuff these guys do is.  GoPro made a point of adapting a camera to do what was required and actively engaged with these superstars, it was a game changer.  Videos were shared and GoPro was referenced constantly.

These videos have been loved throughout the world.  Kids have seen heroes do crazy stuff with GoPro and want to do the same.  By referencing GoPro, these kids now feel part of the tribe.  They feel they're living life to the full and it's been captured on camera.  Who doesn't want to be in that tribe? 

It's an awesomely effective brand message.

Social Media

There are lots of things that GoPro are doing differently but I'm blown away by their social media footprint.

GoPro have one of the best social media presences I've ever seen.  It's not so much the (amazing!) numbers but it's the quality and engagement.  The brand reinforces "Be a Hero" everywhere.  Everyone who posts a video really hopes they're a hero.  Having a GoPro provides validation that you're living life to the maximum.

GoPro proactively seek out extreme sports and people doing different things.  The most amazing and unique footage is then shot on a GoPro so there's an amazing link to the brand.  The target market is very similar to Red Bull but it's weird that when watching the footage you can't help but think how great the footage is. What an amazing link to the product.

Video is the dominant media for GoPro and almost all social media channels have a strong tie to YouTube and just watching any one of the 3k+ videos will get you excited and thinking about what you can do.

YouTube: 3m subscribers; 3k videos; 820m video views
Facebook: 8m+ likes
Twitter: 1.3m followers
Instagram: 4.5m followers

Brand View

GoPro is an amazing brand doing in excess of $1bn in revenue in a little over ten years. Fans of the brand shout loud and proud and see themselves as different and cool because they have a GoPro.

The product is great but the brand is better.  The most shareable content online is anyone that's doing something different and GoPro has really focused on associating itself with some of the most outrageous and unique stunts and content on the internet.

What can we learn?

What could we do that's different.  Is it unexpected?  Would you share it?  How can we capture and organize fans of our product into tribes like GoPro has? 

The originality and authenticity of the brand are there for all to see but it's not just that.  The way in which GoPro have organized and managed their tribe while continuing to encourage users to share their experience is something we should all take note of.

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