Shaggy's Custom Skis Case Study
Humble roots to Household name
Shaggy’s is a family-owned and operated ski manufacturer in northern Michigan. The company was built around the family’s legacy in the Copper Country. Their great-grand-uncle “Shaggy” hand-carved wooden skis for friends and family during the copper mining boom in the Keweenaw.
Since the company began in 2005, Shaggy’s has seen rapid growth in ski sales and customer loyalty. Customers have rallied around the company, noting their love for the high-quality, handcrafted product made in Michigan and the strong sense of family they gain when becoming part of the Shaggy’s community.
While the Thompson family started Shaggy’s from humble roots—today, the brand is listed in the same breath with brands such as K2, Volkl, and Rossignol.
Co-Founder Jeff Thompson realized that the business had grown to a point where the inconsistency with the company’s branding was beginning to be detrimental to the customer experience. Shaggy’s customers were exposed to at least three different Shaggy’s logos throughout their buying process. Jeff wanted to increase manufacturing volume and sales by 2.5 times and better communicate to new customers who Shaggy’s really is. To remedy this, Jeff reached out to SmartCreative to help streamline the Shaggy’s brand while maintaining the Copper Country heritage.
Brand Style Guide
Social Media Graphics
Email Campaign Design
Modernize the Shaggy’s brand while maintaining the Copper Country heritage
Create consistent branding throughout the buyer’s journey
Attract customers with clear branding and unique story
Before starting a major branding project, we always dive into industry and market research to understand where a company sits in the marketplace and build a solid foundation for the new direction.
This process often brings essential discoveries to the surface. During this project, we collected survey data from 200 Shaggy’s customers and analyzed their responses.
The data showed us that most customers who purchased Shaggy’s skis had considered buying skis from more prominent international ski brands. They ended up choosing Shaggy’s for several reasons.
- Every pair of skis are handcrafted in Michigan/United States.
- Shaggy’s has a reputation for building high-quality skis that have raving reviews.
- The ability to customize your pair of skis offers consumers a unique buying experience.
- The company interacts with its customers and prioritizes excellent customer service, which has produced a very loyal and supportive community.
Customer Journey Mapping
With the data collected from our research, we moved on to Customer Journey Mapping. This process allows us to design a great brand experience for customers by drawing meaningful connections and digging deep into the customer buying process.
We began by exploring all of the possible stakeholders that come in contact with the Shaggy’s brand. We then identified the stages of the customer experience, the points of contact with the brand, and uncovered potential opportunity areas that can be incorporated into the brand to eliminate pain points and amplify wins.
In the end, it helped us understand what people are trying to achieve in the custom ski buying process, what would positively impact their decisions, and how they felt overall about the brand throughout their journey.
As a result of our brand audit, we identified at least three different Shaggy’s logos that customers were exposed to. We knew the logo needed to be consistent to build a stronger brand so we made a recommendation to use the existing wordmark logo on the base of the skis. This would be the best option going forward for a few reasons:
- This Shaggy’s wordmark logo is iconic. Almost every existing pair of Shaggy’s skis already contains this wordmark on the base. Skiers often come in contact with the Shaggy’s brand for the first time on the ski hill (looking up at the chairlift) or on social media. We also know that members of the Shaggy’s family act as mini brand ambassadors on the hill, so doubling down on this design is a great strategy. This logo has made bold impressions on the ski hill and social media for the past 15 years and was ready to bring the company to the next level.
- The design of this logo is more modern and is positioned to serve as the company’s logo for decades. Its power is similar to the YETI brand, where the wordmark is applied to every product in the same way. YETI’s customers do not blink at spending $500 on a cooler. For many people, that is a small price to pay to be associated with the brand. Using the base logo as the main logo, Shaggy’s is now positioned to become the nation’s top custom ski manufacturer with instant recognition by skiers across the country.
With this wordmark, we created mock-ups of the Shaggy’s website, event tents, skis, and other elements to reinforce our brand recommendations. The mock-ups helped the Shaggy’s team visualize what the new brand would look like and how the separate brand elements would complement each other for a complete identity system.
We also developed a 28-page brand style guide that serves as an instruction manual on communicating the Shaggy’s brand. Brand style guides make it easy for new employees to be onboarded. It also serves as an excellent reference for anytime anyone works with the graphic elements of the brand.
Through our industry research, customer surveys, and brand identity recommendations, we refined the brand. The consistent logo usage created a recognizable brand for prospective customers. We delivered a brand strategy report, a brand style guide, social media graphics, branded elements for skis, and an email campaign design to create a holistic brand. Shaggy’s already had a great foundation to work from — we just put the cherry on top.
Jeff and the Shaggy’s team recently moved the company’s headquarters to a larger space to increase their manufacturing volume. We are excited to watch the company continue to grow as they move forward with this cohesive brand.