Evolving a Retail Brand - A Success Story of a Festival-Founding Surf Shop

Retailers in the digital age have to evolve quickly in the fast-pace of our current consumer landscape. Fitting the needs of a rapidly changing market is difficult to execute, but one brand, in particular, was able to accomplish just that by bringing the community together with sharing love for music and art.

Levitate, originally a surf and skate shop on the south shore of Massachusetts built the Levitate Music and Arts Festival from the ground up. Having a brand identity of having a surf shop in a small town on the water, on one hand, has its benefits. The culture they represented, the products they offered, and their standards were beyond fitting for their community. Addressing the following components of successful brands will help you see how they did it:

Brand Image and Brand Identity

Brand Image is the experience of the customers and staff – it’s the reality of the brand. Levitate incorporated their brand image when starting up the music and arts festival; being recognized as a family-friendly and community-driven event that featured local unique vendors, quality food trucks, and of course, good music.

Levitate has a specific look on the outside that gets their brand identity communicated to their community. The personality of their company comes through here, getting impressions that come from their conscious decision making about their image over time. This is what sets their company apart from others.

Both their Brand Identity and their Brand Image impacted the Levitate brand and their customer behavior so successfully that they have been expanding to locations such as Hull, MA, and Nantucket, MA. They also have a Levitate Truck that parks on the Hull Shore from July to August where they engage with the community and offer products like leashes, wax, fins, sunscreen, towels, as well as surf lessons and rentals.

Internal and External Communication

Getting a brand and its products recognized is something that many retailers struggle with. Having internal and external communications in place is one of the main drivers for such a challenge. Levitate is extremely efficient in making promotional efforts for not only their shop and products but for their annual event that puts their name on the map in bold.

A local resident where the festival takes place makes promotional videos leading up to the event, another one with footage from the festival that year, and a longer project documenting the evolution of the festival over the years. According to Digitell, 30% of fans who watch live video of an event attend that event in person the following year


Social Media and Online Influence

Influence is key when promoting music festivals. There are so many every year with a growing demand for attendance, so it makes sense that 69% of festival goers say their friends rely on them for information about upcoming music festivals. This is where the external communication is vitally important.

69% of festival goers say their friends rely on them for information about upcoming music festivals
— Eventbrite
Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 3.43.04 PM.png

Levitate promotes their videos, important dates, new products, and upcoming festival lineups on various social media platforms. They have an active Instagram account, Facebook account, and a newsletter. Reaching out to their (growing) following base allows them to spread the word via social media – and according to Eventbrite, 45% of hardcore music festival goers have discovered a festival through online advertising campaigns. Another 54% have discovered festivals via radio or TV ads.

45% of hardcore music festival goers have discovered a festival through online advertising campaigns. Another 54% have discovered festivals via radio or TV ads.
— Eventbrite


Casting a Wide Net for Consumers

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 3.26.38 PM.png

Events can be marketed through online ads and social media, but being able to market the event in different locations is extremely useful in branching out to your audience especially when starting out of a small town. Music festival goers are scattered all over the country, and in a study, half of them reported traveling from outside their home stats to attend a festival. Casting a wide net and getting those out-of-towners early will be very useful.

Levitate has had an incredible track record of signing on incredible artists and performers that have concert-goers and local fans alike wanting to be a part of the Levitate community. 

A few years into their promotional strategy, Levitate put up a billboard on I-95 in between the town of the shop and Boston to promote the festival. The visibility reached extremely high numbers which along with other marketing initiatives resulted in an incredible growth in festival-goers, vendors, artists, and opportunities.


Tracking Results

Tracking what works best for your particular event, business, or brand is very important as factors come into play that will only reveal itself if you look for it. Tracking everything from testing the locations of your marketing campaigns, effectiveness/conversions of social media promotions, advertising results online/TV/radio, and especially knowing where your customers came from once they’ve made a sale.

The overarching goal of any retail shop is to evolve with advancing technology and consumer trends and creating a unique retail experience for customers with great customer service. Levitate grabbed a hold of their demographic and built their brand into something so much more than a local surf shop with the diversity in their business and retail sale support.

Building your brand strategy is incredibly difficult in a fast-moving environment we are in today, but taking in as much information you can about branding is important. Here are some more resources that will help your branding initiatives, even if you didn’t think you needed them in the first place.

If you have any questions regarding branding, there’s no hurt in asking some of our professionals for a free consultation.