Herschel backpacks are suddenly everywhere – great case study on how to do authentic!

4 Stars

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Have been noticing more Herschel Supply Company backpacks and travel bags around town – especially on guys.  The backpacks have a really distinctive clean, square silhouette with recognizable tan leather pulls. Based on my research,  this Canadian brand has only been around since 2010 so it’s still in its discovery phase although in fairly broad distribution (from Urban Outfitters to Nordstrom’s).

Herschel has grown rapidly. Its sales rose by 900% between 2010 and 2011, and by 350% the following year. It is sold in 50 countries and worn by a wide array of people from Seth Rogen to Kanye West.  The brand is a great case study for anyone interested in learning how to do “heritage” branding in a way that feels authentic. Their design, brand name and backstory all suggest the brand has been around for much longer than 4 years. The company also has a beautiful Instagram account with over 480K followers – link here.  Their website is not shabby either – link here.

What I discovered in checking out the brand, is that Herschel Supply Company was founded by two brothers, Lyndon Cormack and his brother Jamie. The company takes its name from a small town in the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, where the Cormacks’ grandparents lived. With its backdrop of steep ravines and big game, this isolated village has supplied the brothers with a history to turn into a commercial story. And they’ve run with it big time.

Interestingly, all elements of the design and marketing suggest (to me) that the brand may have also studied how  Hendricks Gin  did their heritage branding. For those not familiar, Hendricks looks like it has been around forever but was created only 15 years ago. Both Herschel and Hendricks are among the best examples I have seen of heritage and authenticity done well – neither feels contrived or like they are trying too hard. Both succeed in making heritage cool and relevant to today’s consumer who is increasingly looking for authentic brands and experiences.

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