How Aquila is rebranding for the casual bloke

While Aquila had focused on creating the polished content on its high-end products, it had missed the mark with the middle tier and more casual products

Think Aquila and you think of high-end, Italian leather, hand-made shoes. But that's not all Aquila offers. So the business has set about a rebrand to change those consumer perceptions.

Founded in 1958 by Tony Longo, Aquila is Australia’s leading men’s shoe brand with over 50 stores nationwide. The retailer restructured at the start of 2018, a program of work that included looking at all collateral created for the brand.

Aquila marketing manager, Kiara Pecenko, said there was a clear disconnect between the marketing and the wider range being offered by the brand. While Aquila had focused on creating the polished content on its high-end products, it had missed the mark with the middle tier and more casual products, of which there are hundreds.

To address this, the brand has launched a ‘real guys’ brand campaign to attract a more casual audience. And this is just the beginning, with plans to expand marketing across multiple channels, and also upgrade its technology stack to facilitate better personalisation and targeting.

“We have a really diverse range,” Pecenko told CMO. “However, the imagery and communications didn’t adequately get our breadth of range out to consumers, so we started from there.” 

The ‘Real Guys, Real Good Shoes’ champions real guys from all walks of life who start their day in a great pair of shoes. The campaign rolled across in-store, YouTube and social channels from September and has dictated the tone of the voice used in Instagram captions and EDMs. Pecenko described it both as more educational and more fun.

“Social was always a big part of our strategy, however, YouTube is fairly new. We have some incredible video assets from our brand awareness campaign and talent, so we trialled the YouTube spend,” she said. "It’s become a really great avenue for us to put our familiar face out to market.

“The aim of the campaign was to ensure all customers identified with at least one of our talent.”

As Pecenko pointed out, the workforce changed much in last five years, offices are more casual, and there aren’t too many opportunities for men to wear suits. Therefore, dress shoes are for special occasions rather than every day. Aquila is keen to let consumers know it has other more smart casual options available.

Supporting infrastructure

A related challenge Aquila, like many organisations, faces has been the legacy technology stack marketing has been working with. Pecenko said it's a complex tech stack, but the team is trying to segment marketing efforts as much as possible.

“We are working on our tech stack, with the ultimate aim of getting a unified customer profile. In this way, we can make really informed decisions about the types of communications we are pushing to customers moving forward,” he continued. "Of course, digital is a massive help there, anything we can garner from the website, social, YouTube - we are collecting data anywhere we can find it, for better targeting.”

The retailer has moved its website onto BigCommerce, and changed its email system to DotDigital, for better marketing moving forward. Pecenko said the team is enjoying the advanced reporting capabilities it now gets, but admits it needs to keep being clever, as it is only a small team.

“We are definitely looking at increasing personalisation into the future, we know there’s a big difference between what a customer is buying in Melbourne, compared to Queensland, so hope to personalise for this moving forward," he said. 

“The fresh campaign really sets the tone of what we are aiming for going forward. In the next year, we will be expanding upon it, making sure we keep using ‘real guys’ aspects so we are even more relatable and real."

User-generated content is another big push for Aquila in the next 12 months, and Pecenko recognised customers being big advocates and sharing what they are wearing through social is key to building better awareness of its broad product range.

Meanwhile, Carlton AFL captain, Patrick Cripps, is the latest talent to join Aquila’s ‘Real Guys, Real Good Shoes’ campaign, joining NRL legend, Benji Marshall.

“Patrick was the perfect fit for our ‘Real Guys’ line up. He is a charismatic real guy, who shows as much class on the field as he does off and has achieved such incredible accolades at a young age,” Aquila CEO, Luke Longo, said. “We are honoured to be working with some extraordinary guys across a variety of industries including food, street art, sport and grooming to represent the brand and look forward to announcing further names over the coming months.”

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