Simple and Authentic: Reimagining Scientific Anglers June 23, 2016 – Posted in: News
By John Van Vleet, Marketing Manager
Three years ago, Scientific Anglers was purchased by the Orvis Company. Immediately following the acquisition, opinions throughout the industry varied wildly: some praised the deal, noting that it would give SA some much-needed fly-fishing oversight and an infusion of capital; others badmouthed the move, cynically wondering if this meant the end of the Scientific Anglers.
It turns out that reports of our death were greatly exaggerated.
Over the past 36 months, much has changed for Scientific Anglers, from the consumer-facing touch points such as the logo and packaging to the day-to-day operations at our Michigan facility. Nearly every aspect of Scientific Anglers has undergone a transition meant to re-focus our energy away from cleaning pads and insect repellent and toward the core of who we are: a manufacturer of fly lines, leaders, and tippet.
This is an inside look at our thought processes, our goals, and the steps we’ve taken to modernize and refresh the Scientific Anglers brand in the simplest and most authentic way possible.
Frozen Chicken No More
One of the first things we knew we had to do was change our look. Our logo, our brand identity, looked dated at best and somewhat sterile at worst. I joked that it looked like something you’d find on a package of frozen chicken. Within a year, we were able to develop a new logo, implement it on our packaging, and begin the frustrating, and oftentimes painful, task of rebranding.
This actually happened by accident.
Confession: As much as I would love to claim an amazing graphic-design skillset, my English degree begs to differ. One day, while playing around with typefaces and colors, I clicked a few buttons and our new logo appeared. Almost exactly as you see it today: simple, modern, and uniquely ours. This came about as a happy accident, not as the result of focus groups, marketing consultants, or a graphic design team—just some dude with too much time on his hands.
Typically, brands don’t operate this way. Dozens of meetings are held and hundreds of concepts are introduced. The entire process can take years, and tens of thousands of dollars. We avoided all of that because we wanted to use that time and those resources to improve the company as a whole.
Is it the world’s best logo? No. Are we proud of it? Yes.
Once the logo design was finalized, we realized that we had to address our packaging. At the time, we had a wide array of designs—some featured fish-skin prints, others had shades of blue, and all of them featured our old logo. One of our foreign distributors likened it to the candy aisle at the grocery store. It was confusing, convoluted, and showed no brand cohesion.
We thought: if we were having trouble deciphering our own packaging, how would our consumers ever be able to?
Thus, our work began in earnest. With Phalanx Studios, our graphic design partners, we reimagined the SA packaging with an eye towards simplicity. Gone were the fish skins. We decided each line family would have a unique color that would take up the majority of the box. We would put taper diagrams on the front of the packaging for easy comparisons. We would designate freshwater lines with a green flag, saltwater lines with an orange flag, and sinking or specialty lines with a black flag.
From there, we started an intense product rationalization, eliminating duplicate tapers. We gathered all of our sinking and sink-tip lines and put them in their own category to eliminate confusion. We narrowed down our entry-level offerings to a handful of floating and sinking tapers. Every step we took, we wanted to make it easier for consumers to understand.
Imagine our product offering as a diamond shape, where the consumer enters from the bottom and works their way to the top. At each successive level, there are more options and choices, until they reach the premium levels, where the selections are limited, but technologically advanced.
As Scientific Anglers moves forward, expect to see more and more of this thought process coming into play. It not only makes things easier for us from an organization standpoint, but more importantly, it makes things much easier for consumers to understand.
Fly fishing is a difficult and oftentimes confusing sport. The last thing we should be doing is making things even more complex.
A lot of this sounds like marketing jargon, and some of it is. But the heart of who we are lies in this one, undisputed fact: we are wholly committed to making the best fly lines, leaders, and tippet in the world. And the best way for us to do that is to demonstrate that we are anglers ourselves and use our products on a daily basis.
During the waning days of our previous ownership, sometimes this mission was overlooked or ignored completely.
Those days are gone.
While simplifying our product offering has certainly helped, we have also dedicated ourselves to being an authentic brand. This comes in the way of on-brand imagery, helpful articles on our website, and a commitment to friendly social media engagement.
This is also where you, our pro staffers, come into play.
No brand can be successful without ambassadors, and we take none of you for granted. Being aligned with hard-working guides and knowledgeable anglers such as yourselves not only shows consumers that we want to support the industry, it also gives us all a measure of credibility.
For us, it’s not all about selling products. It’s about creating a like-minded community full of passionate anglers who all love the same thing: the sport of fly fishing.