In our Brand Story Hero series, we shine a regular spotlight on different brands that we think tell their story well. Here we take a look at Rapha, the luxury sportswear and cycling brand.
Product: Sportswear, focusing on cycling.
Founder: Simon Mottram.
Year founded: 2004.
Mission: To make cycling the most popular sport in the world.
Named after a 1960s cycling team, Rapha was founded by Simon Mottram in London in early 2004. Their first product followed soon after and was launched in July of the same year.
According to their website, Rapha exists to make cycling the most popular sport in the world. That is their mission and is behind all the work they do.
Over their years in business, the brand has worked with the best athletes and designers to achieve this goal. In 2007, Rapha partnered with British designer Paul Smith to create a range of limited-edition cycle clothing and accessories. In 2016, they worked with Apidura on a limited range of cycling luggage.
Recently, Rapha has developed a number of international cycling clubs. Members of these clubs have access to exclusive club apparel and high-end bike rentals.
In each clubhouse, you will find a retail space that sells Rapha apparel and accessories. The clubhouse houses a cafe and screen that show live cycle racing. The clubhouses also play host to a number of cycling-related events and art exhibitions throughout the year. Rapha currently has 22 clubhouses in 13 countries around the world.
Their Storytelling Lessons
Lesson #1 Turn your sponsorship into stories
In October 2018 Rapha agreed a new deal with EF Pro Cycling.
While the partnership means Rapha is back on the world stage as a cycling sponsor following the end of their sponsorship deal with Team Sky, it also means new content for Rapha.
Part of the partnership deal ensures all of the team’s racing and behind the scenes action will be recorded. This will be used as content for both Rapha and EF Pro Cycling in the form of videos and photos.
The EF Pro Cycling team also announced they will no longer restrict themselves to only road cycling in the coming year but will also tackle different terrain.
This development means Rapha will be brought to a new audience and further stretch their reach.
Lesson #2 Be committed
Rapha is committed to what it believes in.
The brand celebrates road cycling and is committed to it.
Its website regularly posts inspirational essays, videos and photography about the industry on the stories page. In doing this they bring to life what they are most passionate about.
Although the brand may not be unique in the field that they work in or the one which they are targetting they remain unique in their commitment to it.
It shows that if you want a brand focused on road cycling, Rapha is the one for you.
Lesson #3 Lead from the front
Rapha’s leadership team aren’t just CEOs, Directors or Partners, they’re cyclists.
They each have a passion for cycling, about the bikes they use and about the gear they wear.
This investment in the company and the products demonstrates that it can be trusted.
By telling stories of their own cycling adventures it shows that the people behind the brand know what they’re talking about, and know how important it is to get it right.
Their Storytelling Tools
Rapha uses video in a lot of their content, whether it is to show a cycling journey or a new development in their range.
As mentioned earlier through their partnership with EF Pro Cycling, Rapha has been developing content for their blog, social media and website. Much of this content has been in the form of video.
"It's gone full throwback, but it's in the future too." This year @EFprocycling wear Rapha. Watch the team's reactions as they see their kit for the first time. See the range using the link in our bio. pic.twitter.com/YTN87CcyIS
— Rapha (@rapha) January 11, 2019
The videos have documented important milestones in the new partnership including the delivery and reaction to their new kits. As seen above.
They give the feel of being behind the scenes of the new partnership and giving audiences the opportunity to see how the partnership is developing.
2) An exciting and invited stories page
Rapha tells great stories.
On their ‘stories‘ page on their website, they share cycling stories from around the world. They detail not only Rapha update and products but chat directly to cycling enthusiasts about trips and rides that have made an impact on them.
3) A podcast just for your audience
Rapha has partnered with The Cycling Podcast to create a podcast specifically for cycling enthusiasts.
Hosted by journalists Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe the podcast discusses the latest cycling news and the world of professional cycling.
Episodes are a mix of insight and analysis of the big talking points and take a look at the behind the scenes of professional cycling.
4) Stay social
They are a social company and use social media well.
Their social media accounts are kept regularly up to date and regularly interact with their audience. They are aware that their audience lives on social. So they have adapted their communications to interact with them and join them on the platforms they are accessing.