In our Brand Profile Series, we take a closer look at surging brands across the world. For this eleventh article of the series, we chose Swiss brand of running specialists – it’s ON!
A local gem
Before anything, ON is the story of three friends. Olivier Bernhard, three times World Duathlon Champion and multiple Ironman Winner, David Allemann and Caspar Coppetti. The brand, specialised in running shoes, was established in Zurich in 2010 and won the ISPO Brandnew Award, one of the most important prizes for innovation in sport, just a couple of weeks after it was founded. It has since then implanted itself at over 1,200 running stores and in 25 countries. In addition to its European headquarters in Zurich, ON has now opened a second head office in the USA in Portland, Oregon. It seems like the Swiss specialists are willing to take over the world.
Experience over theory
ON is all about running with simplicity and intuition. In contrast with a sport shoe market that has been over engineering its products, ON keeps it to the minimal. Brands usually offer dozens of running shoes according to your natural way of running, your morphology or possible pronation problems. ON brought simple back. While most running specialists highlight the importance of “making the right choice” when purchasing a new pair of shoes (which is essentially fear marketing), ON puts the fun of running in the centre of the buying process. Rather than explaining what impact it could have on your health if you didn’t correct your way of running, ON focuses on a person’s natural way of running – and consider it a good one. What this leads to is an easy choice for the client, simply led by comfort and the experience of founders – who have been running for decades themselves.
A functional choice
ON is a specialised yet unpretentious Swiss running brand. And it is exactly what it looks like: unlike most American sport brands who have expanded their product line to streetwear, ON only sells what they know best, without sugar coating it. There is no stress put on performance or attracting newbies into the world of running, but rather a functional, technological and honest offer for insiders. Their logo looks like the one of a stylized technology brand, while the shoes’ design seems more appropriate for a walk in the mountains than a casual stroll in the city.
With an Instagram of 37k followers and a youtube channel featuring explanatory videos labeled “directly from the lab”, ON seems to be doing it right when engaging with its crowd. Their website also offers interviews with professional athletes who explain the technical aspects of running, and the brand launched a series of articles about successful people’s habits, “the habit series”. When putting new shoe models onto the market, ON organises a launching event, and the brand sponsors an organisation called “Support of the Athlete Refugee Team” (#WeAreAllOne on Instagram) – quite a busy schedule for a local running brand!
Exploring the field
ON’s success can be linked to two main points: their authenticity and their only focus. The worst risk they could now take is endangering one of those in an effort to grow. Maybe the brand will rather try and expand within the field of running rather than try to develop other sports. Their main challenge might be to find the right balance between expanding and keeping their main narrative intact.