After raising $9 million in a Series A round in February 2016, Chubbies — the short-shorts brand — invested heavily in brand strategy.
“We’re really investing in a content engine,” is the way co-founder Kyle Hency describes it in an interview.
It all starts on the Chubbies website. The shorts are front and center, but so is the message. “Spring is Coming. Let’s Do This.” Scroll down, and you’ll find a ream of photos from the “Chubster Nation,” followers and fans who’ve posted to social media wearing their own Chubbies shorts.
Just like Buzzfeed or Upworthy, Chubbies has created an outlet for fun content — people who visit once, and come back to see the next post or video.
“Content is the lifeblood of how we market,” co-founder Tom Montgomery says. “Interruptive marketing is not what people like these days. Brands also have more capability than ever to use channels where people actually subscribe to your content.”
For Chubbies, it’s video.
The team knows that good shorts are just a small part of their brand. What will get people feeling really excited is the opportunity to participate in their story, With video, Chubbies distributes its tales of the “weekend revolution,” expressing brand values while inviting interaction and optimizing for searchability and shareability.
First, let’s look at the videos themselves:
Using Video To Tell Your Story
In the crowded space of e-commerce, brands have the briefest of opportunities to sell their identity to customers.
“That’s the world we live in,” Montgomery says. “As people can select and choose more of what they’re consuming, you have to be good at telling your story.” Story is everything, and for Chubbies, video is evidence of authenticity. Their “About” page is called “Manifesto” featuring quippy lines like “Chubbies is to the weekend as peanut butter is to jelly,” which lead into video evidence, labeled “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B” and so on.
Rather than a list of abstract adjectives to describe the brand, these videos entertain, and make you feel. They’re loud and wacky, shot like music videos full of swimsuit-clad fans championing the story.
But you can’t just create videos and leave them alone. By themselves, they’ll soon be lost in the e-commerce ether. Chubbies uses social media to link videos to its community and keep the traffic looping back into its site.
Follow Your Fans
Co-founder Tom Montgomery describes Chubbies content as “a destination,” a place customers can hang out and watch fun stuff. However, a crucial part of this strategy is that the destination be a moveable feast.
The social trail starts with Facebook. In every video, a Facebook stamp in the corner acts as an implicit call-to-action to take this clip onto social. When one clicks on the video, it opens out onto the social site, landing on Chubbies’ Facebook page.
But this is just the start of Chubbies’ viral loop.
Video is Versatile
Chubbies’ brand isn’t tied to a website. It’s the same whether you spot it on Instagram, whether you catch a Snapchat story, or whether you see a video on a friend’s Facebook wall — the uniting factor is the lighthearted, playful content and pop of color in each video. By allowing customers to find them anywhere, Chubbies enables its brand to travel. Customers take the baton and Chubbies’ presence grows exponentially.
Chubbies uses the unique features of each social tool to tell a slightly different version of that story. On Instagram, it’s groups of friends, families, and couples sharing their days off. On Snapchat, it’s in-jokes, captured on the fly. On Twitter, it’s trending topics, presented with the Chubbies tongue-in-cheek.
As Chubbies shares, they encourage others to make their own videos, uniting them all through the #chubbies hashtag.
Ace the Details
On the blog feed of Chubbies’ blog Friday at Five, each post is accompanied by an image. When someone clicks on an individual blog, a video appears, like a little treat for venturing this far.
Sharing updates via video boosts Chubbies’ timeliness and shareability. Blog videos take a current event or trending topic and piggy-back on it. The winter drinking game post below actually takes others’ pictures and uses them (giving credit, of course) to create a communal post.
See how this single post creates a bread-trail, enticing the viewer down the page towards the video (and its accompanying sharing call-to-action.)
Let No Button Go Uncustomized
Chubbies leans on Facebook often, but it never lets the social giant take credit. Take a close-up look at the call-to-action at the end of the blog post above. Chubbies have customized it to reflect their sense of humor, and it’s specific to the timely topic of the post.
By covering every button with Chubbies-made copy and adding the hashtag to everything they do, Chubbies is always tying the fun back to their brand.
Let Your Customers Grow Your Brand
The real magic of Chubbies’ content-first strategy is that it’s mutual. It isn’t a shorts brand buying up all the billboards in the city to get into people’s minds. It’s the people themselves putting shorts on and filming themselves having fun.
The next generation of shoppers doesn’t want to just watch what a brand is doing — they want to participate and make it their own. They want to make their own videos, become a creative member of the brand team.