It’s early 2016. Chances are, if you live in a big city, you’ve met at least one person who has this bracelet:
What is it? It’s a Lokai. Both a new brand, and the official name of that brand’s bracelet, these guys are the talk of the town these days in the branding world and fashion communities alike. Lokai bracelets are comprised of clear rubber “beads,” with one white bead and one black bead on either end. The white bead contains a tiny drop of water from Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, while the black one contains a bit of mud from the Dead Sea, our world’s lowest locale. The general idea behind this contrast is that we can use this bracelet as a reminder to stay hopeful in times of turmoil, but to also stay humble when we’re feeling unstoppably high. In fact, Lokai coined a simple, catchy tagline, “Stay Humble, Stay Hopeful,” which is a memorable and terse way of iterating their very simple, very meaningful message. Skeptical about the sourcing of the special beads? Not to worry, Lokai’s got you covered. On their official website, there’s an entire section dedicated to authenticity – you can see a series of breathtaking images and a video depicting a few sherpas’ trek up Everest to get just enough water for the bracelets (which is a lot of water, when thinking of the scale!).
What’s better is that Lokai releases limited edition bracelets every few months – there’s no method to their madness (that’s publically revealed, anyhow), and no way to know for sure when they’re releasing a new color, or how long it will be around. The best part, in addition to being able to add a physical variety to your collection, is that each limited edition bracelet goes to a worthy cause. In 2015 alone, Lokai had a camouflage bracelet for the World Wildlife Federation and a blue bracelet for charity: water (an organization dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to developing countries). They ended the year with a rather festive red bracelet for Save the Children (and hey, subliminally the Holiday season), and also had a pink bracelet for Susan J. Komen, the world’s largest breast cancer organization. Each special edition bracelet includes a partial donation to the chosen charity, and an even better reason to become part of the Lokai community, much like a charitable yet trendy business model before them from the Warby Parker’s and Tom’s shoes of the world.
Lokai has done everything right because they’re not just selling a rubber bracelet, they’re selling a lifestyle. Their Twitter handle is “Live Lokai,” as is their Facebook page and their hashtag. This hashtag hits on the most crucial way to appeal to a millenial audience – experiential marketing that makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. Yes, Lokai is an $18 piece of rubber when you think about it from a hyper-rational perspective. But it’s also a symbol of a community. A group who embodies free-spirit and thrives on adventure. Lokai is symbolic of people who get excited by the prospect of new experiences, and live to share their stories with the world. From subtleties like, “Join the Lokai Circle,” as their chosen copy for a phrase more oft labeled, “Subscribe to our Newsletter,” to more obvious ways to establish community, Lokai has worked hard to build a brand from the ground up (quite literally, Dead Sea, up!) and used social media to their advantage in doing so.
A lot of Lokai’s traction comes from Instagram – everyone loves a pretty photo, especially when it’s of some land unknown. We want to go there. We want to see that. It’s in every recent publication and all research points to the obvious – we want a life filled with new experiences. Forget about the days of new cars and fancy houses. Sure, that stuff is still cool, but you know what’s cooler? A spontaneous trip to the Galapagos Islands with 5 of our closest friends. Riding a camel through the Moroccan desert. Cage Diving with sharks in South Africa. Taking a Thai cooking class actually in Thailand. These are some of the new aspirations, and Lokai does an excellent job of hitting the nail on the head when it comes to marketing that desire. Their Instagram feed is full of foreign fantasy lands, beautiful images that look surreal when we see them on Google. We question the reality of photos like these, because of Photoshop and other picture enhancers that reshape the digital photography landscape and alter our sense of reality. But Lokai’s photos on Instagram include, of course, the Lokai bracelet – a way to ground a viewer and let them know that the images they see before them are in fact, quite real, and more times than not, they’re also user-generated. The Lokai community can click a chosen photo, which is always given credit, and find it’s photographer to be yet another fan, another traveler, another human being who lusts for adventure just like they do.
Their business model is brilliant. Simple. Smart. I live Lokai because I believe in their message, and I 100% embody their exact target audience. If you don’t yet live Lokai but like what you see, I definitely recommend checking them out!