Understanding branding and viral marketing with A Bathing Ape

Understanding branding and viral marketing with A Bathing Ape

A Bathing Ape A Bathing Ape
The best examples of corporate and product branding are usually found in consumer goods--companies like Apple, Coke, Nike etc. provide the rest of us with models to follow and relate to software. A great example in the fashion world is A Bathing Ape, a brand obsessively built and managed by Nigo and profiled on Portfolio.com. Back in 2001 I went to Japan and become semi-obsessed with the A Bathing Ape (BAPE) brand. Every hipster kid had a cool BAPE t-shirt or hat and I just had to have one. We finally found the store in Harajuku where the line to get in was about 25 people. Eventually we got in and I was too much of a lummox to fit any of the shirts they had left. We mistakenly opted against a throw rug which is now worth $5k on eBay. The BAPE brand is far more than just clothing, venturing into toys, furniture and pretty much anything you can slap a label on.
The clothes and footwear are intended to be seen as perishable; rare; manufactured that morning, perhaps; and presented for you in a sushi-bar-style display. Katayama points out that keeping clothes and sneakers behind glass also makes sense because of a unique problem posed by Bape's popularity: The stores have to look inviting despite the fact that, at times, there's little product available to buy. "We sell out too fast," Feltwell explains, "so the stores could look a bit forlorn."
It's kinda like how Kiss branded everything though BAPE does things very exclusively (and expensively--T-shirts are $75). The brand made its way to the US and elsewhere through underground (hipster-doofuses) then overground (rap stars) means. The Portfolio article is a good introduction and should help marketers think about how they position their products.
About the author

Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.


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