Photo: Nicole90 Flickr CC
Kai Ryssdal, of NPR's Marketplace, interviewed Doug Palladini, Vans Vice President of Marketing about the secret of his brand's success. It's a classic story of a niche brand sticking to what it knows best, in this case for 40 years.
After receiving a huge early boost when Sean Penn wore his own pair of Vans playing the character Spicoli in the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," Vans has mainly kept its focus on its thick, rubber-soled, canvas-topped, cool shoes. Whenever it wandered too far from its home base it got burned. This was the key exchange:
RYSSDAL: How do you keep going with this brand, that has evolved really not very much in the last 40 years, right? I mean it was cool shoes then, and it's cool shoes and some other stuff now.If you want to know more, the company has just published a book about its history called: "Vans: Off the Wall: Stories of Sole from Vans Originals."
PALLADINI: What we always try to do is dive back into what makes us original and authentic. And it's almost going back that allows us to move forward. You know, we've had times in our past, and we've been through bankruptcy where we've tried to reach beyond who we are as a brand. We've made wrestling shoes, clown shoes, skydiving shoes. We did a whole running thing... It is that Southern California culture of music, art, action sports, street culture all wrapped together around this basic-looking shoe. That is really what it is.