Dew Gibbons + Partners




A few weeks back we attended a D&AD talk with Simon Mottram, the man behind Rapha. And his stirring talk has stuck in mind. In part because of his wonderful energy, but mostly because Rapha is not only a disruptive brand, but is one of those mythical brand unicorns that can extend and extend into different categories: no mean feat!

Mottram, the former accountant with a love of cycling, talked about his passion and clear vision – to make cycling the most popular sport in the world. This singular motivation has propelled him to build a brand that’s shaken - and elevated - both the culture and perception of cycling.

Now in its 13th year, Rapha is well established and valued as a world-leading, luxury sportswear and lifestyle brand. Which is held up as a truly aspirational and all-encompassing way of life. Rapha not only offers fine cycling clothing and accessories but also skincare products, and luxury travel-packages to go with it. Put it this way, if pain and triumph are your idea of the perfect holiday, you can now have it all in style against jaw-dropping scenery.

There’s even a Rapha cycling club to meet like-minded cycle souls (hard to do when you’re head down across your handlebars). And a hotel on the way too, which left the die-hard cyclists in the Studio very excited indeed. With these physical touch points, club-spaces and experiences, the brand has transcended the average retail space or ecommerce site. It has become a community.

“Rapha is a brand that's been built without compromise”.

Rapha’s phenomenal success has been built on a simple and pure brand mantra – that differentiation is all. This, coupled with a deep understanding of its customers, has delivered truly elegant design, with meaningful depth. Even if luck has had its part to play – Mottram is the first to admit that his association with Bradley Wiggins, Tour De France and Team Sky hasn’t hurt - either way; Rapha is one very beautiful, smart unicorn.

Further reading:

We wrote all about brand extension in Open Eye 27, and then put our money where our mouth is and designed some great stretch concepts. Read about it all here.

Open Eye 27
Brand extensions that should exist, but don’t