Herschel Supply Co. is the cool kid we all want to be friends with

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I first heard about Herschel Supply Company when my friend was telling me about an independent company who was following almost no one on Instagram, yet somehow had a huge number of followers.

This was insane because the traditional model for social media marketing involves the core element of interacting with your target community, and really showing them that you’re there in order to build your audience. With all of the noise, how else would anyone know you exist?

This was somehow not the case for Herschel.

In fact, Herschel had over 2,000 followers before they even posted their first image on Instagram.

How is this even possible?

Herschel Supply Co. was founded by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack from Vancouver, Canada in 2009.

Upon its launch, Herschel quickly grew from a start-up to a globally recognized brand within its first four years, finding itself in more than 5,000 stores worldwide.

As of the time of this writing (July 2018), they now have 975K followers on Instagram, and are a multimillion dollar company.

So, how did this happen?

Herschel hasn’t just done one thing right, they’ve done everything right.

First, the Cormack brothers saw a need in the market, and filled it.

They wanted to create a functional bag for the everyday traveler. They wanted to create a vintage bag with a modern twist. They wanted to appeal to the masses while maintaining individuality. They wanted to create something that was affordable, but deemed boutique — and that’s exactly what they did.

Herschel’s marketing success is the result of thoughtful planning and careful execution.

In order to maintain their image of ‘cool’, the team behind the brand knew they wanted to avoid mass marketing.

Advertising only in trade shows and magazines, and with strategic placement on social media, they wanted their product to be cool enough to sell itself.

If you need to convince someone that something is cool, then it probably isn’t.

Herschel didn’t want to do any convincing, they didn’t need to; they just wanted to create a product that was clearly cool on its own.

This may be why, rather than using a call-to-action like ‘Shop’ or ‘Buy’ in their Instagram photos, they simply share stories from real individuals who love their products. They even tag their models’ personal handles!

They don’t need to wave themselves in anyone’s faces to convince them of their worth.

The Herschel team is also very careful to select partnerships with other brands.

They only choose companies who’s values align with their own and speaks to their audience.

Photo via Instagram @ hershelsupply .

Photo via Instagram @hershelsupply.

Though it would be easy to jump at any opportunity to make money, the Cormack brothers are always aware of who is the one making the offer, and if it makes sense for their brand.

They do this by knowing their demographics, including global trends and regional tastes and preferences. They know what will sell in certain regions and focus their energy on selling to those individuals.

What’s the word for this? Thoughtful.

The team behind the brand is always mindful of every decision they make. They have a strong sense of who they are and their identity, and they’re not trying to be anyone else.

Their final secret? Content Marketing.

What have we always learned is the best form of advertising? Word of mouth. This is Herschel’s marketing strategy. They have built their brand based on storytelling in order to empower its customers with cool stories about Herschel’s products, lifestyle, and brand values.

Their brand is strongly reflected in its content.

The backbone of the Herschel marketing strategy is through their storytelling. Using both Instagram and their blog, they have created a modern lifestyle brand that tells a compelling and timeless story.

After creating the hashtag #WellTravelled, Herschel asked their audience to create their own story.

Who are they? Where are they going? Where do they want to go? And where are they taking their Herschel bags?

With over 1 million posts, their hashtag became one of their most successful marketing strategies. In this day of social media, people want to show off. And Herschel gave them the platform to do just so.

Since 2015, the Herschel blog has become a lifestyle brand in its own. Through their campaigns, such as City Limitless and Well Travelled, they explore cities through storytelling and beautiful photography.

Their stories range from ‘Local Perspectives’, where they tell you everything you need to know about a city upon visiting — where to go, what to eat, and what to do — , to ‘Design Spotlights’ which highlight inspiration from around the world.

Most recently, they have begun their ‘Look — Forward’ campaign, which follows three different individuals.

Take Shelby, for instance, who has a passion for motorsports and wants to see more women take part in it, or Isla who is a young transgender model who is positive about society accepting the LGBQ+ community.

Yes, they are a global accessories brand, but they’re not just selling a product, they’re selling a story, a lifestyle. And it’s working.

What Herschel did was to design a product that everyone wants to have because they built a brand that screams cool — they aren’t trying. They don’t need to. They’re not going to wave themselves in your face or try and get you to click the link.

They’ve created a lifestyle that everyone wants to be a part of, and they’ve done so effortlessly. They’re the cool kid that everyone wants to be friends with.

And they’re not going anywhere.

Katy Prohira