Tate Chalk, the founder of footwear and apparel company Nfinity, has built a brand on par with Nike in the minds of teenage girls in the cheer community. He did so by understanding the morphology of women, i.e., feet, long bones, knees and hips, differs from that of boys. He and his designers built cheer shoes accordingly. “Shrink ‘em and pink ‘em” is what competitors did to sell girls footwear; not Mr. Chalk. His business has grown beyond cheer, using the same guiding principle.
I interviewed Mr. Chalk this week because I wanted a look inside his amazing social media program. He has done everything right. There were few surprises, but there was one left hook. It floored me.
Much of my brand planning work deals with the distillation of customer “care-abouts” and brand “good-ats.” Nfinity has a good handle on those. It has constructed its social media program around 7 core values. I can’t tip his hand, but “Rocky Balboa-ness” is one.
Nfinity takes its deep, deep understanding of its target group, girls age 10-20, and celebrates it every day. Warts and all. The brand knows which buttons to push and which not to – making the brand real. Nfinity understands the highs and lows of the target as well as the drama. Nfinity also never forgets these kids are hardcore athletes.
Nfinity gets communications planning really well. Better than most big agency comms planners. Time-of-day, location, event, family time, hormones – all are drivers. Moreover, the social media program managers get the “digital two-step,” the mobile lifestyle that takes place 2 feet in front of the target’s noses. And a big plus, Nfinity spends money on production: new video technology, lighting, music, and well-heeled post production. Everyone talks about blocking and tackling in social media, few execute this well.
The Left Hook.
Mr. Chalk and the team of millennials running Nfinity’s program do not go to battle the same way across all social vehicles. They stay true to their core values but treat each platform as a different theater of brand expression. Without going too deeply into his approach, he explained:
“I might be a son, a father, a brother. I am one person but must use different voices in different situations.” While What’s The Idea? uses a framework of 1 claim and 3 proof planks and hits all these notes across touch points, Mr. Chalk gerrymanders his strategy by social media channel, letting the aggregate story convey the Nfinity value. This is nuance. This is smart. This is a company with serious social media chops. His followers agree.