What is Zealios? - A brand revisit.

Posted by Austin Britts on

Deep into our sessions with BOW we confirmed a realization that had been growing in our minds for a while. We needed to update and revamp our brand.

Inevitably, a company takes on a bit of the personality of its founders. When we first started with Zealios we had absolutely no experience with branding or in CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) for that matter. NONE. We were fortunate to partner with some really talented marketers/designers in the the early stages of the company who helped guide us in creating the visual presence for Zealios. We loved the clean lines of the original design and it felt good to be off and running.

At the time it seemed more pressing to get a product to the market than it did to consider what kind of emotional connection we were looking to make with our customers. To be totally honest we didn’t really know what Zealios meant to us either. We knew our own personal values, what we stood for as people, but hadn’t yet built out the framework for what Zealios stood for as a brand.

This has been a huge focal point in our BOW sessions. Working on our ‘WHY,’ as in “why do we do this”.  We will be publishing a stand-alone blog article dedicated entirely to finding our “why”. The process was a bear.)

It’s not as easy to come up with as people think. After much back and forth we realized that we do this because ‘we believe in helping others be their best,’ or ,if brevity and four letter words are your thing, ‘We give a shit.’ After focusing in on why we do this and what kind of connection we want to make with our community, we looked at our branding and realized it wasn’t an accurate representation of who we are as people, as a company, or as a community. One small example: the old logo mark (the three hexagons) is actually inspired by the visual effect of rays of light coming through glass. Most people think they are benzene rings  and immediately think it’s some sort of molecule.

 

Now that we are older and wiser (HA!) we agreed that it was time for a face lift. To engage our potential consumers, we need to evolve our brand; the look, the feel, perhaps a dash of the communication – and hone in on a clear emotional brand message. Our BOW mentors agreed that our branding didn’t accurately reflect our personalities and recommended we do a brand workshop. Three weeks later we found ourselves hopped up on caffeine and cookies doing a deep dive into the Zealios brand. It was a blast.

We digested everything we learned that day. It’s a fascinating experience hearing from people outside of the business what the brand means to them. Honestly, we were quite proud of the feedback we received. Ultimately, though we needed to turn this into something actionable. We distilled everything we learned into a final brand manifesto/voice.

Inevitably, a company takes on a bit of the personality of its founders. For a long time we felt we had guided the brand based on what we thought the brand should be. From this day forward, we are going to let our hair down, if you will. At the end of the day, Zealios means so much more to us than Personal Care. It’s a symbol of our attitude towards life. It’s the result of taking a chance, a leap of faith. It was born out of following our gut and backing ourselves. It’s the result of trading a secure job for the satisfaction of creating something meaningful. It’s a part of us.

Put into pictures, a little less of this:

And a little bit more of this:

 

With that all of that in mind, we are pleased to introduce for the first time the Zealios Brand Manifesto.

Our company was born out of a resolve to make a difference for athletes who strive for excellence regardless of age, race, gender, body type, or ability.

As a group, we thrive on challenges and don’t like to be outdone, but we are devoted to the simple goal of enhancing those exhilarating experiences. We aspire to support our community with positivity, humility and a down-to-earth camaraderie typical of rugby culture.

We are fighters, but we’re also lovers. We’re intense, but friendly. Serious, but not too much. We really want to win, but sportsmanship matters most.

At the end of the day, we believe sport is a path to self discovery and growth. When you push yourself to places you didn't think possible you can't help but grow.

We celebrate those moments. We challenge you to seek out those moments.

It's worth it.

Does that sound like the Zealios you know? We think it does….and we are damn proud of it. The final objective was to create a logo (and eventually new packaging) that accurately represents our brand. Easier said than done.


We need to give credit to the (wildly talented) folks at GB Two for completely knocking it out of the park with our brand new logo:

 

 

The “Z” has strong, clean lines that portray confidence, performance, and moxie. The three dimensions give it personality and depth, and the negative space has a playfulness to it that accurately portrays “serious...but not too serious”. We kept the font the same as a nod to our roots.

We love it and hope you do too! Where it really comes alive is in the new packaging design which we will be launching soon. For the first time we feel like our branding accurately represents who we are as a company. It feels good. It feels like we have grown up a bit and are now ready to sit at the adult table. Or maybe not, the kids table is usually more fun.

Let us know what you think!

 

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Lavaman - a tribute to a friend and teammate.

Posted by Austin Britts on

While promoting at events Kevin and I are often asked if we are triathletes. My gut response is typically “oh god no” while Kevin likes to paraphrase Gimli from Lord of the Rings: “we rugby players are very dangerous over short distances”. Well, it appears things are about to change.


Last year while traveling down to the Wildflower Triathlon we received news that our good friend and rugby teammate Siegfried Kohl had passed away. A few years ago Sig had been diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of Sarcoma and had been locked in a bare knuckle brawl with the disease ever since. I remember first hearing about the diagnosis when I was living in the Bay Area and thinking it didn’t make any sense. Sig was the picture of perfect health. So much so that his nickname in many circles was “Superman”.


Superman Sig was a stalwart in the Pacific Northwest Rugby community. Everyone knew Sig. He was a shining ambassador for the sport and he never took a day off his duties. He genuinely cared about every person on the club and went out of his way to make sure people felt welcome. On the field, he may not have been the flashiest player but there was nobody who could outwork him. On top of that, he was playing high level rugby at an age when most of his contemporaries had been in the beer garden for 5 years.

2005 National Sevens Championships with OPSB. 

A good representation of our relationship. Kevin and I in the foreground with our feet up stuffing our faces. Sig in the background trying to get people on their feet.

 

I can’t claim to be a super close friend of Sig’s. Kevin knew him better than I did. But over the years Sig did many things for me for which I am grateful. Sig sparked my professional career by putting in a good word to my future boss before my very first job interview. In 2003 I was knocked unconscious playing in a rugby game in Los Angeles. For reasons unknown the referee decided to let play continue while I lay limp on the ground. Sig ran onto the field and used his body to shield me from the cleats and collisions happening around me. One morning after a rugby game in Washington D.C. he surprised me by making arrangements to visit the Vietnam Memorial. Unbeknownst to me, Sig had bonded with my Dad a few months earlier. Sig thought a rubbing of my Dad’s co-pilot’s name would make a nice gift. 

Here's the thing: EVERYONE I know that was friends with Sig has a dozen of these stories.

When I lived in Seattle he would constantly get my lazy bones out of bed to play a game of touch rugby on Sundays because it was “good for me”. Sig meant many things to many people because acts like these were just his nature.  It’s just who he was.

 

Sig in his element. Playing touch rugby in Seattle. 

 

One of his gifts was his ability to connect with everyone in the rugby community. Foreigners passing through, salty-dog old boys, and especially the Polynesian community. He took many trips to Fiji and its adjoining islands and absolutely fell in love with the culture and it’s people. And they him.


He even made an impression on the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation. One of my favorite tributes to him was written by the Director of the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation, Tammy Boysen Wilhoite.


“A couple of years ago we got a call from a guy named Siegfried. He had been diagnosed with a rare sarcoma and had heard about our foundation from his doctor at SCCA. First he just wanted to talk...it was still sinking in that he had cancer because he was so active and healthy and young and strong...he wasn't really sure how things were going to go for him, but he was determined to beat his sarcoma.


He called again because he decided he wanted to bring attention to the cancer that was "pissing him off" and to the foundation that was in his backyard helping people with sarcoma.


He called again because he was going to be participating in an iron man event in Hawaii and he wanted to put our logo on his shirt or whatever we would allow him to do to bring attention to the plight of folks stricken with sarcoma


He called again because he had put together a BINGO night and needed our help pulling it off so he could raise money for the foundation.


Once he called because he felt so lucky to have such an amazing support group of friends and family, and it had occurred to him that not everybody has that.  He wanted to raise some money for those folks to help them get the assistance they needed through the foundation.


The Sig we knew is kicking a rugby ball around in Heaven, sucking on a beer, flipping off cancer, and trying to figure out what he can do to help someone less fortunate, because that's what Sig would do.”


Typical.


And yes, Sig participated in Ironman Kona 70.3 AND Lavaman between chemo treatments. In fact, here is a pic of him coming out of the water at Lavaman….catheter scar and all. He often would try to recruit people to participate in these Triathlons with him, and he even had some success convincing some rugby guys to make it happen. I’m sad to admit that I always had an excuse. “It was too much money”, “I had plans”, or “I don’t know about the swim”. They are all excuses in the end. Ones that I regret making.

 

Superman Sig exiting the water at Lavaman.

 

Sig with triathlon recruits Chris Stone and Chris Ramirez.

 

When Sig passed the rugby community rallied together for what I am told was a celebration of life for the ages. If you need a good cry, check out this video of his Polynesian friends singing a Fijian farewell song. The Maori community also honored him with a Haka. This is high praise. 

 

 

 Singing farewell. 

 

Meanwhile at Wildflower, Kevin and I honored him in our own way….by opening a bottle of Jameson, throwing away the cap, and telling stories about him to any triathlete who would listen. I think we scared a few of them.

I don't think anyone knows what to do when someone like Sig dies. There was a lightening bolt of Sig energy pulsing through Facebook….tributes, pictures, memories. People sharing their stories of spending time with Sig. I remember sitting at my desk late one evening reading them and crying. It had finally hit home.


Through it all there was strong consensus that everyone wanted to galvanize this energy to honor Sig in a big way. What came out of it was the commitment by many to compete in Lavaman 2017 in his honor.


If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on 2017 being the largest clydesdale division that Lavaman has ever seen. I think 33 is the total headcount. We will be wearing “Sig Strong” tank tops and rugby shorts adorned with the Fijian symbols for “Energy, strength, and love”. It promises to be equal parts moving and hilarious.

 

Sig Strong

 

 

Many times throughout the last two months of training I have felt Sig give me a gentle push. More often, however, I can hear his voice telling me (a little less gently) to “stop being lazy” and that I should "get off the couch and go do something productive”. I love it all the same.  I know for a fact Sig enjoyed watching my first swim session. I bet he was howling with laughter. Slowly, to my surprise, I have come to enjoy the training. The miles seem to be getting easier and I no longer fear for my life when I see the number 1600 on my swim schedule.

To be honest, I have always felt like a bit of a poser while promoting at triathlons. Something didn’t quite sit right that I am a partner in a company that caters to triathletes, yet I’ve never done anything longer than a sprint. It’s fitting that it’s Sig who's forcing me take a giant step towards putting my money where my mouth has been. The training process has sparked a competitive fire that I haven’t felt since retiring from competitive rugby in 2010. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really looking forward to toeing the starting line of Lavaman. I'm anxious to see what I have in the tank. Thanks, Sig. I’ll be cursing your name the entire way.


On April 2nd Sig will have no shortage of comedic material while watching us slog our way through the course, but I know he’d be touched by the effort. While as a group we may not be built for distance, it won’t matter. We have Superman on our side.


So, if you are going to Lavaman this year please come find us after the race. We will be the oversized guys at Kona Brewing who look like they know their way around a beer or five. First one is on us….because Sig would want it that way.


This one’s for you, Siggy. You grumpy German.

Oh.....and this one's for you Rhabdomyosarcoma.

 

 

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2016 Zealios Recap

Posted by Austin Britts on

Hello 2017! This year has started with some extreme weather in Bend, OR. So far we have been pounded by record snowfall and piercingly cold temperatures. It makes for amazing conditions at Bachelor and shoveling the seemingly endless snow helps to burn off the holiday beers/cookies!

Since I’m forced inside by the blizzard today, it seems like a good time to look back at 2016 and tell you all about some exciting developments for 2017.

 

2016 => Quick n’ Dirty, Lean n’ Mean

 

By all accounts, we had a fairly strong year. Some personnel changes early on forced Kevin and I to rethink the structure of the business and, born out of necessity, we retooled how our logistics work, and how they integrate with our systems. It was hard work but the result is a much leaner, efficient company. With our main focus being on making the company more efficient, we are still happy to say that we grew by roughly 40% and saw healthy increases  across almost every sales channel.


2016 also saw us launch our new packaging for the shower products, which proved to be a bigger headache than we anticipated, but they have been well received and were well worth the effort. The new packaging sizes came from all the feedback and requests that we received from you, so thank you for speaking up! We know that we still have more work to do on new sizes and products but wanted to let you know that we ARE listening.

On the marketing side, we pulled back from our INSANE event schedule of 100+ events in 2015, and instead focused on larger triathlons and marathons that gave us more reach and exposure. We traveled farther away from our west coast ‘nest’ to promote at both Ironman North American Championships in St. George, UT and The Woodlands, TX, but still fit in some of our local favorites like the Sea Otter Classic, which was amazing as always. We hope to continue to grow our event reach to new regions and events as we love connecting with everyone before they push their bodies to their limits. Plus, we have to make sure you are all stocked up on the best sunscreen out there.

We were very fortunate to forge some incredible new relationships over the 2016 season and consider ourselves very lucky to work with such great teams and athletes. Our first year working with teams like Team Wattie Ink, Team Zoot and Team RIDE, among others, was amazing and we greatly enjoyed meeting so many new people that we are able to help support. It was also inspiring to see a number of Team Zealios athletes perform at the top of their game. Jesse Thomas won his 6th straight Wildflower Triathlon (sadly, he might be Wildflower’s final men’s champ), came away with an amazing victory at Ironman Lanzarote and competed in his first World Championship in Kona finishing 16th. Coming off of an amazing 2015, Heather Jackson  collected a couple victories at Chattanooga and Coeur D’Alene 70.3’s, literally ran away with Ironman Lake Placid setting a new course record, and watching her will her way to a podium finish in Kona is something we won’t soon forget.


ACCELERATING WITH THE BEND OUTDOOR WORX


In the fall we accepted a place in the 4th cohort of the Bend Outdoor Worx (BOW) alongside two awesome companies, Fat Chance Bikes and Bosky Optics. To be honest, BOW really wasn’t on our radar until pretty late in the game. Kevin and I debated long and hard as to whether we were too far along in our journey to get value out of the program, not to mention it would mean Kevin would have to commit to some SERIOUS windshield time. In the end, we figured we owed it to ourselves to take advantage of the opportunity.

Joining BOW was probably the best decision we have ever made. As a result of the program, we feel a tremendous amount of organizational alignment and are SO excited for 2017. I’ll be writing a whole separate blog post on our experience with BOW and what we learned. So, if you are interested in that type of stuff….keep your eye out!


All in all, 2016 was an amazing year and we look forward to the challenges that await us in 2017. We are going to work hard to continue to grow Zealios and look forward to seeing you all out there and helping any way we can. Speaking of help, it’s about time we announce:



WELCOME ABOARD STACEY KIEFER!

Stacey atop Tumalo Mountain back when having snow was still fun.

 

This is a little late, I know….but since when are we diligent about announcements or blogging?

Stacey has spent her whole life in the swim industry and recently left Speedo, where she was the key accounts manager for the Western United States. Culturally, and professionally we knew instantly that she was a perfect fit. As we joke in the office: Stacey has forgotten more about the swim industry than Kevin and I have ever known.

Stacey is a born sales professional. True to her Wisconsin roots, she is naturally friendly, talkative, fearless, and fiercely competitive. We are incredibly proud to announce that Stacey Kiefer started as our Director of Sales in December. Kevin and I have been struggling to keep up with her ever since!


LAVAMAN


Yep, that’s right. Kevin and I have committed to our first “real” triathlon.  We will be competing in the Lavaman triathlon in April in Kona, HI. We are competing in honor of our fallen rugby teammate Siegfried Kohl who lost his long and heroic battle to sarcoma last April. We will be joining a whole army of Sig’s friends, family, and rugby mates to raise money for charities dear to him. I’ll be writing a more detailed post on Sig and our experience leading up to Lavaman in later blog posts.



WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017


We have some exciting stuff on docket for 2017 that we will be announcing in due time. This year’s projects include some new packaging variations (which will make a lot of you very happy), more product development, and our first ever marketing campaign. We had a brainstorming session in December regarding our campaign and I left with my cheeks hurting from laughing so hard. So, we think you will enjoy it!


As a parting note, thank you so much for your support. We are so excited for 2017 and can’t wait to see you out there!!

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Zealios Update: Summer is Here, Crazy Travel, New Packaging, and Pub Talk!

Posted by Austin Britts on

SUMMER! 

We made it! Summer is finally upon us and we couldn't be happier about it. Summer for us means it's the busy season. Kevin and I have been traveling all over the Western United States attending events and supporting athletes. We kicked things off with another epic Sea Otter Classic (HOT), and have been at it ever since. Wildflower was incredible this year with Jesse Thomas grabbing his 6th straight victory (!!), and Matt Lieto with an impressive 8th place finish given that he had to stop for three minutes to stretch his calf! Well done fellas! We enjoyed our time with Matty Reed, Nate Dressel, Kara LaPoint, and all the good folks at Wattie, Ink and RIDE Triathlon. Good times!

We also made appearances at Oceanside, St. George, and Texas. It's been a busy start! While it can be exhausting spending so much time on the road it usually gives Kevin and I some time away from the office to disconnect and catch up with outside of the office. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle of the office so it's usually on these outings that we get to think up some new ideas. 

 

Kara LaPoint stopped by to say "hi" at Sea Otter

 

NEW PACKAGING

Boom! So, it took us a year but we finally realized people really want the Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash in family sized pump jugs. We are here to serve. Our first inventory run of the new pump jugs just rolled off the line and they are already going quick. The family sized 32 oz. jugs will help keep the shower stocked. We decided to discontinue the 16 oz. bottle in lieu of a 12 oz. one. The 12 oz. bottle seems to travel better to the gym and pool and fits well in a bag. It's a surprisingly big headache to change packaging, and inevitably issues pop up, but we are really pumped (ha) that we followed through on this little project. Check out the new pumps here.

 

PUB TALK

Finally, we were really honored to be a featured speaker at EDCO's Pub Talk. We felt really grateful to share the stage with such talented and passionate people. It's always fun to share our story, warts and all, with new people. We have made some incredible connections as a result of the event and are really feeling the love from our adopted home town. Thanks for coming out and supporting us!

Before I sign off, I want to say thanks on behalf of Kevin, myself, and the entire team. We grew at 240% last year thanks entirely to your support! We are humbled and grateful for each order and will continue to try to create great products for you all.

See you out there!!

Austin

 

 

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Wow, what a year! And even more exciting things to come...

Posted by Austin Britts on

Before we finish the chapter on 2015 and jump into 2016, we wanted to take the time to thank each and every one of you for supporting us and helping us get to where we are today!

We had an amazing year full of growth and challenges. If you are receiving this, it means you crossed our path in one way or another and added to the fun. You may have met us poolside at one of the kazillion swim meets we attended, or possibly before your big Ironman race.  Maybe a friend shared some sun barrier with you when you forgot your sunscreen and you went on to conquer the day, sunburn-free. However you may have come to know us, we are sure happy that you did, and we thank you for your ongoing support.

It is surreal when we step back and realize how much Zealios has grown this year. We launched four new products that completely surpassed our wildest expectations, added some amazing distribution partners, attended over 100 regional events, and grew over 273%!! What is truly exciting is that we feel like we are just getting started. We can hardly wait to announce the 2016 sponsored athletes and teams as they are an incredible group of athletes and people. We also have some exciting new products waiting in the wings, and we have stayed true to our performance-based approach. These new products will help you train, race, and recover better than ever.

On a related note, we have just begun the process of raising a growth-round of capital through CircleUP, an investment platform specifically for companies who produce consumer goods. This round of growth capital will help sustain us through our large growth cycle and ensure that we are able to continue to provide you with the best products in the business. If you are an accredited investor, or know an accredited investor who may be interested in a fast growing sport/personal care company, please engage with us here:

https://circleup.com/c/zealios/

Finally, from all of us at Team Zealios: thank you. Thank you for believing in us, supporting us, and spreading the word about who we are and what we do. It’s been such an incredible ride thus far, and we absolutely can’t wait to create next chapter of our story. We couldn’t do it without you.

Enjoy the remainder of the Holiday season, train hard, and we will see you in 2016!!

Kevin, Austin, and Megan
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