Making a Great Brand More Accessible to a Wider Audience

MEC campaign portrait

Positive brand recognition is the gold standard for any retailer, but familiarity can ultimately limit a company’s ability to grow and innovate. Long-time customers come to expect a repeat performance of their past shopping experiences, while potential new customers, familiar with the brand but lacking actual buying experience with its products, may bypass the retailer altogether.

The management of Mountain Equipment Co-op, an iconic Canadian retailer of outdoor recreation clothing and gear, faced these and other challenges as it sought to increase its market share, and share of wallet. Founded in Vancouver in 1971 by a small group of mountaineering enthusiasts, the co-op had grown to a national retailer serving a large membership base.

However, with increased competition and an overall consumer shift toward more urban activities, the company wanted to update its brand to reflect the evolving retail experience. The company was now selling yoga mats, bikes and running gear alongside its traditional outdoor equipment and clothing, yet many consumers still viewed Mountain Equipment Co-op as the retailer of choice for hiking and backcountry enthusiasts.

Concrete worked closely with a market research firm who conducted focus groups, opinion gathering and social anthropology research from six million online conversations. The research validated two key observations: that Mountain Equipment Co-op members are often as active in urban environments as they are in the backcountry, and their motivations for being in the outdoors and the activities they pursue there have grown more diverse.

Concrete developed the positioning, “We Are All Outsiders,” moving the brand away from its “hardcore outdoor” image toward a new commonality that still places people within an aspirational club. This statement was supported by a new logo, which replaced the full company name and mountain image with the MEC acronym. The logo was stripped down to the equivalent of a badge or stamp that retains the MEC ethos but can be used to brand a broad range of products in a bold but simple way.

As well as the positioning statement and new logo, the fully integrated brand presentation included a multi-platform launch campaign, product labeling, website, store signage, packaging, video and advertising.

  • Brand Strategy / 
  • Visual Identity / 
  • Print & Editorial / 
  • Packaging / 
  • Advertising / 
  • Digital / 
  • Video / 
  • Branded Environment

The results of monitoring over 6 million online conversations, focus groups held across the country, numerous stakeholder interviews and hundreds of design concepts were documented in a video showcasing the evolution of Mountain Equipment Co-op’s brand identity.

MEC new brand wordmark
MEC wordmark on green background in front of store
MEC brand identity
MEC carry bag
MEC bike and parts with new wordmark
MEC ‘We are all outsiders’ campaign with skier in black and white and green logo

A New Positioning

Concrete developed the positioning statement “We Are All Outsiders.” This statement speaks both to the diversity of the MEC experience as well as the commonality of the spirit shared by MEC members.

MEC poster series featuring different individuals for ‘We are all outsiders’ campaign along city street
MEC website with new design
MEC 'We are all outsiders' billboard
MEC ‘We are all Outsiders’ website landing page featuring stories about different adventurers and outsiders
MEC brochure
MEC website on mobile in hand
MEC sleeping bag and outerwear with new wordmark
MEC bus stop campaign poster and magazine advertisement MEC billboard and magazine ad
MEC website
MEC Winter is Here poster in store