The concept of character is very important in all hummel products. Character since 1923 is now the company tagline (our "Just Do It"), and this concept evolved and was first developed in footwear.
I first created the "Jeg har Karakter" concept ("I have Character", in Danish) for my first new football collection with hummel, the 2006 Collection. (see post here about the concept and design brief in the 6.2 Concept FG Case Study).
Click the Read More link below for the full story of the development of hummel Footwear Character, product DNA.
As the time, the idea was to frame the collection and provide a matrix concept and reasoning for the all new models to be designed as well as a marketing strategy.
The first step, was looking at the football market and competitors. I felt it was important to attach a concept and theme to hummel football footwear products that hummel could "own". Seeing as how Adidas represented (for the most part) heritage (even though the hummel brand is older), Nike represented Technology, and Puma represented Lifestyle.
As well, given the nature of our small brand compared to the Big 3, and lack of high profile players and teams under sponsorship, combined with our strategy of "non-marketing" and alternative sponsorship (ie. The Tibet National Team) a different competitve strategy was needed.
The "Jeg har Karakter" concept embraced these issues. Character was something unique that hummel could bring (a alternative approach to different aspects of performance, lifestyle, and design) to the market and targeted and celebrated the individual player not the $100 Million dollar athlete.
The idea was solidified with the definition of 3 different Character types that defined the product mix.
The 4 Series Character is traditional, professional, respectful of the heritage of the game.
The 6 Series Character is the "Rock Star", technical, but unique in personality, not afraid to be different, and connected to fashion.
The 8 Series Character is highly refined, technical, focused on performance and efficiency in skill and control.
Most importantly, the Character concept was broad enough yet specific to provide an open umbrella for a multi-target product approach and fit well with the storytelling approach to marketing hummel has championed for a long time.
Text I wrote from the first Football 2006 Catalog-
Imagine life without stories. Events only existing in the present. No recollection of our history, or dreams for the future. From generation to generation we have passed down stories since man has existed in tribes. These tribes/groups are defined by the stories they tell.
Imagine stories without characters. Tales only of inanimate places, things, stuff. It is in fact the characters of our stories, and by our own character in life that we define ourselves within the groups and teams we live and play. We are all characters. We are all individuals. Characters are integral to creating excitement.
In developing the hummel Football 2006 Collection, we have considered the individual characteristics of the characters present in any team. Exploring each product as a character we have combined technology, design and style to engineer a cast of unique personalities.
We are all Characters. We all have Character.
Jeg har Karakter.
EVen before this character concept, one of the very first (I think I created it for a presentation about my new footwear direction given 2 weeks after I started in June 2004) and most important things I established at hummel, was the footwear DNA concept.
This DNA concept describes the relationship of different products and different product categories as related with similar characteristics in design and concept.
This DNA was developed to bring all footwear products closer and define a strong brand identity.
Visually, you can see these in various details and patterns that are used across product categories including the rear mudgaurd pattern, rounded punched eyelets with embroidery (which has a shape similar to the shape of the "L" in hummel, rear heel window patterns.
This DNA concept has been in uses on all collections since the establishment of the new footwear dept. at hummel and is evident in the design of the new 8.4 PIO FGX.
This DNA concept has also been applied bringing the PIO (Per Invitation Only Concept) to sport. The 8.4 PIO FGX was the first technical teamsports product in hummel to be under the PIO label, and has now set the direction for the PIO label to be applied to all products across categories in both footwear and apparel.
Taking the root idea of PIO, exclusivity, luxury, uniqueness, lifestyle and storytelling, the 8.4 PIO FGX brings these elements to our top technical boot (remember 8 Series products are focused for the technical player). In this way, the 8.4 PIO FGX adopts some characteristics of the 6 series (Rock Star player), and links with the DNA established in other footwear categories.
Likewise the 4.2 PIO FGC in camo Pittards WR100X Analine leather adopts some feel of the 6 Series (Rock Star) and 8 Series (Technical) with a unique, high performance military spec material treatment.