Change can be a scary thing, especially when its’ something that you’ve become familiar with, but change is necessary to grow and evolve. And we embrace it.
So, KUMU...what’s it all about and why the sudden change? Well in order to understand it all, we firstly need to go right back to the very beginning and to where it all began. A lot has changed behind the scenes over the last couple of years and the important thing to remember in all of this is that ‘On The Beaten Track’ was never meant to BE a brand in the first place. It was purely an outlet for my own personal photography and videography work, but naturally being a graphic designer, it had to look good and have some form of identity and meaning.
So when I first set about creating the identity, I based it around the concept of a journey - the idea that carp fishing always lead you round in cirlces, chasing shadows, tearing your hair out and more often than not, ending up right back where you started, which is why the logo had a strong reference to a compass, and also why OTBT read the same, whether you read it clockwise or anticlockwise around the crest - always leading back to where you started.
As time went on and I began to experiment more with the visual style of the ‘brand’ I felt like I wanted to take it to the next stage and create a small range of merchandise bearing the OTBT name, not ever knowing or possibly imagining the reaction it would get and ultimitely lead to where it is now. So in the space of around 18 months it spiraled from being a small bedroom brand to something that had quite literally ran away with me and that I could no longer keep up with alongside a full time job.
It was at this point where things reached a stale-mate. Time and space restrictions meant that the brand had simply plateaud and could grow no more with myself trying to handle every aspect from design, marketing, social media, shipping and handling, customer service amongst a whole load of other ‘behind the scenes’ activity that goes alongside running a business. It was at this point, in the April of 2018, that long term friend and owner of Blakemere Fishery; Dave Marvell offered the brand a lifeline - to come on board with the business, taking over the operations and logistics side, allowing me to get back to what I loved doing, and where my time was best spent - designing and forging a visual style for the brand that was to cement the brand as a major, creative player within the angling industry and beyond. It was with Dave’s input, that the brand was catapulted a few years ahead its time and allowed the product range to grow rapidly and 2018 saw us attend our first trade shows - something that had been on my bucket list since the brand started to gather momentum.
In the October of 2018, the decision was made for me to leave my full time employment and pursue the brand full-time. At this point, myself and Dave sat down to look at where the business was headed and set out our plans for the future. It was at this point that discussions quickly turned to the name. ‘On The Beaten Track’ (OTBT). For a blog, this worked and made sense, but for what had now turned into a brand; it was too long winded, too much of a mouthful and not memorable enough. This was proved to us time and time again with people always getting it wrong, calling us OFF the beaten track or OTTB or OTB. It just didn’t work. It’s the bar test - if someone asks you what your brand is called in a loud bar, would they understand you without needing to repeat it?
However, there was also the other side to that arguement. People had become used to the brand identity and to change it now when what we were doing was working, seemed a bit like trying to fix something that wasn’t actually broken. So, after many lengthy discussions for the pros and cons, it was decided that we would keeps things as they were. But, with the growth of the business over the last 18 months, it was imperative that we had our name and identity trademarked to protect ourselves long term.
This is where things began to turn a bit ugly. On submitting our trademark application, we were notified that 2 other similar trademarks existed and both had opposed our application. Now, without boring you with all the legal ramifications which go hand in hand with fighting a case like this, after months of negotiations, costs (and our patience) soon began to spiral, to the point where we had to step back and ask ourselves...why are we fighting this? Why are we fighting to keep something that we’ve already agreed doesn’t actually work?
After more lengthy discussions, we realised we had no other option but to withdraw our application and rebrand. The idea was that we would devise another 4 letter name which utilised the same crest as our current brand mark to maintain the brand recognition that we had already built up and maintained the same concept as OTBT - to be read the same way either direction around the crest and keeping the idea of a journey alive. After all, this whole process from starting the ‘brand’ as it was 3 years ago, to where it was now, we’d ended up right back at the beginning and essentially having to start again.
I honestly can’t explain how hard this process was. From quite literally hundreds of potential names, we eventually narrowed it down to just a few, and finally settled on KUMU. We admit, it’s going to take some getting used to, because generally, people don’t like change, so when you change something that people have become so accustomed to, they feel really uneasy about it...but give it time and believe us, it will grow on you, as it has us.
To us, it’s about what it represents, and still holds that same fundamental meaning as OTBT did. We’ve gone through this whole journey which has consumed the last couple of years of our lives, to essentially end up right back at the beginning. But, that is in no way a bad thing, and although our hand were somewhat forced, it’s made us do what perhaps we should have done a long time ago.
The important thing to understand, is that the brand, essentially, hasn’t changed - you can still expect the same level of design and creativity that we’ve become synonymous with. As a designer, I’ve always strived to continually push myself creatively and overcome challenges that I’ve set myself and that will never change. I’m constantly in competition with myself and as tiring and frustrating as it may be at times, it’s what keeps the brand, and me as a designer moving forward.
And actually, these last few months have given us time to reflect and create some new pieces which we feel are our strongest to date, putting us in a better position than we’ve ever been in. In the midst of all of the legal battles, myself and Dave took a research trip to the Far East to source new suppliers and visit some factories which would allow us to produce products which would see the continued growth of the business, and we’ve got one hell of a relaunch planned in late 2019 / early 2020, with an entire new range dropping as well as beginning to supply the trade in the early part of the New Year.
With all of this negative energy behind us, we’re looking forward to getting back in the drivers seat and pushing the new brand to where we know it can go and we can’t wait to bring you along on this new journey with us. We’ll be revealing exactly what we’ve been up to over the last few months shortly, so make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and following our social channels to find out first.