Masterclass delegate story: Huub

Sporting goods company Huub had already achieved impressive results from their marketing strategy, but a Breakthrough Masterclass hosted by advertising agency Saatchi Masius proved that a little perspective can lead to even greater results

Founded in 2011, Derby-based Huub designs wetsuits, clothing and accessories for endurance sports, particularly triathlon. The company has won a 10% market share with sales of £1.5 million expected within their third year of trading, and marketing has been a key factor in this success. But the challenge remains for Huub to enhance its branding in order to achieve even greater growth.
In June 2014, Huub founder Dean Jackson attended another Breakthrough Masterclass hosted by advertising agency Saatchi Masius at their London HQ. The themes of the two-day event were marketing and branding. For Dean, this was the chance to see Huub’s existing marketing strategy through the prism of Saatchi’s expertise. “What we were really looking for was a sense that we were getting things right in terms of our marketing, while also looking at what we could do to make it more effective,” he says.
Making an emotional connection
“I think that one of the things we learned over the two days was that the emotional connection you have with your customers is really important,” says Dean. As the Saatchi Masius team explained, most competitor businesses have great products, which may be better, cheaper, more enduring or more advanced than your own. To distinguish yourself from the competition you need to identify what aspects of your offering resonate most with your customers and then place these at the heart of your marketing. These aspects are what Saatchi calls the ‘love marks’ of the business.
“The discussion around the ‘love marks’ was really interesting,” says Dean, who now plans to re-examine how Huub communicate with their target market. “We’ll be thinking not only about how we are communicating with our existing customers, but also people who have yet to buy from us.”
Think again
Dean later took part in a ‘reframing’ exercise, which required each company to consider how it presents itself to customers and other stakeholders. The aim was to identify the company’s core appeal and where those love marks may reside. The exercise involved several other delegates who each contributed an outsider’s view of the other businesses around the table.

“I think that one of the things we learned over the two days was that the emotional connection you have with your customers is really important.” Dean Jackson, Huub founder.

It was agreed that Huub’s key selling point was their emphasis on high performance. This is shown clearly by the branding’s emphasis on the science behind the products, factors such as the hydrodynamics and swim-stroke analytics used to optimise buoyancy and speed. As Dean himself pointed out, this sense of a cutting-edge technology at work is embodied in the very aesthetics of their wetsuits, many of which were partly inspired by outfits from the science-fiction movie Tron.
The reframing exercise confirmed that Huub are not merely selling triathlon wetsuits; they are selling ‘success’. Dean found the exercise useful in terms of directing ways in which Huub can sharpen their branding even further. “We’ll be looking again at whether our message is being presented in a way our customers would like to hear.”
The value of perspective
With input from one of the UK’s leading advertising agencies fresh in his mind, Dean left the Masterclass with both a renewed confidence in the direction of his branding and a vital sense of perspective on his own business. “I think we took confidence that we were on the right track,” says Dean. “But the Saatchi Masterclass gave us great ideas and lifted our thinking about 5,000 feet.”

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