20 Jan 2019

Times have never been more confusing – confessions from a mid-level brand

It must be hundreds of brands struggling with the same shit that we’ve been dealing with at T-post® over the last few years. Which is being a mid-level brand that hasn’t had its BIG break yet (because there’s of course no doubt in your mind that that will happen just any day now…). Or maybe you had a viral break, but wasn’t ready to take advantage of the opportunity, because you thought shit would go on forever by itself (as in our case). But while waiting for that big break, you need to make ends meet, right? And right now times have never been more confusing.

Here’s what I see happening on the platform where we all are building our brands nowadays. When you as a user of social media (or media in general) are being poked over 3 000 times a day by different companies thinking that they possess the dopest shit you absolutely can not live without. You need to screen most of it out. Because who can take all that shit in, right? So you unconsciously turn on your own “If I haven’t heard about it, it’s probably not worth knowing about” bull-shit filter – hating everything that’s being pushed at you. If you’re not researching or going for an inspiration spree that is. But even then you don’t want to be pushed on by a bunch of crap that’s not vetted. To solve that problem, you’ve turned to influencers to do your vetting for you, right? But now you know that they’re bought too. So you can’t really rely on them either to present you with new fresh shit anymore.

Trying to keep a mid-level brand alive today is like trying to play volleyball with your thumb glued to your face. It’s hard. That’s why it’s super important for us to understand everything that is happening and where people are turning for inspiration these days – and how to reach them. Because that’s the difference between life or death, especially if you are a mid-level brand. But as you can see you need to be super delicate while doing so. It’s almost like we’re turning back the promotion clock 20 something years or so. Out with the digital power of viral and in with the physical power of word of mouth peer to peer. For so long it’s been enough to manage your brand from behind your desk using social media and by posting good content (it didn’t even need to be real or true for that matter). Since back then people where liking and sharing the shit out of your stuff – doing all the hard leg work for you. But nobody is doing a mid-level brand, that they don’t know about, any favors anymore. That’s a perk given only to top-level brands nowadays. So, while you’re waiting for your brands big break, you need to be out there in real life inspiring people, doing honest shit and having the backing of good (not bought) brand ambassadors. Because let’s face it, when you’re stuck at mid-level you need to balance everything on a knifes edge, since one wrong move can put you out of business.

As jeffstaple said on his podcast, Business of HYPE, “The mid-level brands need to stick around for the streetwear ecosystem to work” and for it to be a streetwear scene all together. So all you mid-level brands, you need to hang in there, the streetwear scene is depending on it.