How United By Blue Amassed Legions of Fans Through Its #BlueMovement
One look at United by Blue’s Instagram feed and it’s obvious that it’s more than just a series of photos: it’s a visual love letter to the environment, a tidy grid of wanderlust-inducing beaches, lakes, mountains and forests.
The feed is an extension of the eco-conscious outdoor apparel brand who has made its mark on the local retail scene — a flagship store in Old City, outposts in University City and Asbury Park, and a store-in-store concept in Kennett Square – with durable, style-forward clothing and accessories. A combination of images shot by United by Blue’s own capable creative team, and others culled from a crowd-sourced feed using the hashtag #bluemovement make up the brand’s social media presence and persona.
Brian Linton, United by Blue’s founder and a Temple University alumnus explains, “For us, #bluemovement is all about a community of people who admire and respect the blue parts of our planet coming together to help protect and conserve it.” The images reflected in the feed aren’t just portraits. There also chronicle their cleanups, which take place year-round.
The brand’s account has amassed 29,600 followers, and the number ticks upward every day.
Essential to United by Blue’s pared down, environmentally forward aesthetic, the feed — which exists on Twitter as well — also plays a role in the brand’s effort to promote community building. Linton continues, “The hashtag allows us to communicate directly with this community over social media, but the Blue Movement itself transcends digital form and is most accurately manifested at our beach and waterway cleanups where volunteers come together to pick up trash.” United by Blue removes one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways for every product sold. So far, they’ve organized 142 cleanups in 23 states and removed 264,969 pounds of waste.
Prior to the company’s 2010 launch, Linton got his entrepreneurial start at Temple and now employs many graduates among the company’s 30-person team. He explains, “United by Blue is enticing to Temple grads—and Temple grads are enticing to UBB—not necessarily because I went to school there, but because they are some of the most hardworking, creative and driven people in this region.” An active alumnus, he regularly speaks to students and fellow alumni about entrepreneurship and brand building.
The goal, then, is to foster community in a variety of settings and platforms. Whether it’s through their cult-favorite coffee bars or in-store events (yoga classes, documentary screenings and beer workshops), it’s clear Linton isn’t interested in building a fleeting network. And it’s worked exceptionally well so far. When the members of the #bluemovement were called upon for two of the company’s recent Kickstarter campaigns, more than 3,500 backers assembled, raising $510,770.
Asked about United by Blue’s next steps, Linton notes that the team continues to grow, and new stores are on the horizon. Should you want to see the progress in action, he suggests paying a visit to their local brick-and-mortar outposts to see the manifestation of the community.
Or, you could just follow United by Blue on Instagram.
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