Scaling a global sports brand with a 360 degree design system
Helly Hansen is a renowned Norwegian brand known for its high-performance outdoor apparel. Established in 1877, the company specialises in creating innovative and durable clothing for various outdoor activities, including skiing, sailing and mountaineering. Helly Hansen’s products are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions while providing comfort and protection to outdoor enthusiasts. With a commitment to quality and functionality, Helly Hansen has become a trusted name in the outdoor industry, catering to both professional athletes and everyday adventurers alike.
Just over five years ago, Helly Hansen realised they needed to rethink how they produce their digital marketing campaigns. They were only managing four digital campaign executions a season and outsourcing with the traditional waterfall agency method was prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. Helly Hansen knew that to succeed in digital, they needed an edge.
With this in mind, Chief Digital Officer Chris Hammond and Global Head of Digital Communications Michael Eriksson approached MATES for advice on how they could at first scale their digital marketing production to create 10+ complete campaigns a season.
To understand the problem, Mates Inc.’s first step was to talk to all the teams involved. It became clear that the team was struggling to stay AGILE in design. Although the brand team created fantastic campaign concepts with their partner agency GREY, these were developed years ahead of production. After these were delivered, the team had to deal with shipment and product issues, multivariate tests, user feedback and regional translations. Given the huge range of touchpoints that had to be maintained and updated, often at the last minute, it meant making a choice – sacrifice quality or quantity. For a brand like Helly, we knew this wasn’t an option. They needed an AGILE design process that could adapt to late changes, create assets at scale, and most importantly adapt/maintain them quickly.
After reviewing the current state and defining smart objectives, MATES advised that HH take inspiration from the way MATES approaches traditional Designs Systems. The Design System approach basically meant a brand new approach, with all the involved teams at HH agreeing to a set of principles and design axioms as part of a Digital Marketing Framework. These axioms were linked together to create a framework of dynamic digital assets that allowed simple changes to cascade throughout all of the designs. This framework of production assets has been a huge success, allowing everyone at Helly Hansen the ability to respond quickly if there was a glitch or revision anywhere in the process – from design, through to retail. This gave the team the ability to completely execute a campaign in two to three days across all touchpoints and develop a whole season’s worth of assets in a matter of months. A remarkable achievement.
"Something as simple as changing the out-of-stock products would mean taking our whole campaign back to the drawing board. Now we can drag-and-drop the replacement product and watch as it is replaced across the entire campaign in seconds."
Global Head of Digital Communications