Brand Expansion

Hydro Flask Product Integration

Project Overview

For my Consumer Behavior and Brand Development final project we were placed into teams of four where we were tasked with developing a product expansion proposal. We were required to choose an existing brand and integrate a new product into the brand's product line. Our proposal contained five elements that mirrored the overall brand development process:

  1. An articulated marketing strategy for the new expansion (positioning and brand essence statements).
  2. The identification of brand attributes and desired brand voice for the new venture.
  3. An assessment of the fit of the new venture with the parent brand and determination of the optimal extension format.
  4. A proposed visual identity system for the new venture.
  5. A brief plan for the creation of brand meaning using integrated marketing communications.

As our brand of choice, we decided to focus on Hydro Flask and introduce a new product that aligns seamlessly with their existing brand image.

Executive Summary

In the last several years, the Hydro Flask brand has gained traction among a variety of target markets, including college students, professionals, and active and outdoorsy individuals. Its line of colorful and recognizable double-walled, insulated, and vacuum-sealed water bottles, along with its strong offerings in other outdoors-related product categories has created an opportunity for Hydro Flask to further expand its brand into the outdoor gear space. Consumers already strongly associate Hydro Flask with being outdoorsy, durable, reliable and high quality, and this new extension will further strengthen consumers’ association of the brand with the outdoor lifestyle.

We recommend the introduction of the Hydro Sip, a water filtration straw that can be used with existing Hydro Flask bottles or sold in its own separate configuration. This new product will represent the three pillars of Hydration, Wellness, and Adventure, and will communicate the new brand essence statement of “Drink Well”. This new extension will be communicated to consumers in various ways, including positioning Hydro Sip in alignment with charitable causes associated with clean drinking water, and promoting Hydro Sip through campaigns which places the Hydro Sip product in active, outdoors settings such as the Pacific Crest Trail. Ultimately, Hydro Sip serves as a relevant, yet meaningful and intriguing extension to the Hydro Flask brand.


Hydro Flask creates and sells a large variety of portable and food safe containers, providing products with an emphasis on heat and cold retention. They are most famous for their durable, well-insulated water bottles. The scope and breadth of these products are relevant to their current target demographic—the outdoorsy and active individual. By highlighting their amazing capabilities and the longevity of their product, Hydro Flask sets itself apart from their competitors. Hydro Flask’s main competitors are Klean Kanteen, Stanley, S’well, Thermos, and YETI which all sell high-end portable containers. If Hydro Flask chooses to expand their market and produce camping gear, they will still face steep competition from both Stanley and YETI as both brands also sell camping gear.

Brand Hierarchy

Hydro Flask currently has over 100 products, and the brand hierarchy serves as a visual guide to organizing all of Hydro Flask’s products. At the top of the hierarchy lies the Corporate Brand, Helen of Troy. With numerous brands under their belt (including Hydro Flask), their scope includes Housewares, Health and Home, and Beauty. They are dedicated to building brands that are globally renowned, with products that are meaningfully positioned in consumers’ lives. The family brand of Hydro Flask is a company dedicated to providing refreshment with dynamic and innovative solutions. Falling in line with their Modus Operandi are their individual brands. These range across different food categories such as: Hydration, Coffee, Beer & Wine, Soft Coolers, and Food. They also extend to include Accessories, which corresponds with their food categories and Gear brand. Their Gear brand is then extended with modifiers which include hats, hoodies, and shirts, which all proudly display the Hydro Flask logo.

Brand Tone

There is a distinct user image associated with the Hydro Flask brand. It is identifiable and visible in their use of advertisements and product placement photos. The user image is in line with the overall brand image, presented as an outgoing, outdoorsy individual. The user would be someone who enjoys the wilderness, spending time with friends outdoors, and understands the importance of staying hydrated no matter where they go. They are idealistic about the possibilities of their Hydro Flask products, and how they can utilize them. The usage occasion is better described as the on-the-go, busy individual. People who both work hard and play hard, and will maximize the use of their Hydro Flask products as much as possible, by taking them anywhere they deem necessary: from the classroom to the courtyard, to the countryside.

Brand Imagery

Hydro Flask has a very distinct visual identity. The primary and most recognizable component is the company’s logo. It is ubiquitous, appearing on every single Hydro Flask product in a distinct, visible way. The logo is a very strong reflection of the company’s ideals; it is both modern and creative, and represents the characteristics they see not only in themselves, but their customers as well. Hydro Flask strives for uniformity in all of its visual identities—its logo is everywhere, from the website, to products, to visual product aids. It seeks to maintain consistency with the imagery of their brand, an outdoorsy and adventurous consumer, by associating them with situations where the product is placed directly in sight of these ideals. Hydro Flask is very consistent in portraying to the consumer who they are, what their values are, while still making their brand feel approachable to different consumers. This is consistent with their advertisements and their mission: “Save the world from lukewarm”. By making sure their excitement about the world and their endeavors to explore it are represented by their colorful products and lively campaign imagery, Hydro Flask has presented a uniform representation of who they are.

Target Market

Hydro Flask’s current target market consists of college students, young professionals, and people who enjoy spending time outdoors. If Hydro Flask were to introduce a water filter into their product line, the company would want to focus on their outdoorsy target market, specifically, campers and backpackers. Backpackers carry everything they need on their back for a trip. They usually carry items like hiking poles, backpacking stoves, clothes, sleeping bags, pads, food, and a water filter with them on their trips. This market cares mostly about equipment that is durable, easy to use, lightweight, and convenient, because they will be used repeatedly throughout backpacking trips. On the other hand, campers spend their weekends relaxing in the mountains or at a campsite, and are constantly in search of the best camping gear to improve their experience. They need to pitch a tent, set up kitchen equipment to cook, and make a cozy space to rest with chairs, camp bed, or hammocks. They may not always be in the range of a fresh, potable water source and would be in need of a water filter to simplify their expedition. Another market that Hydro Flask should consider when introducing a water filter is college students. College students are adventurous, thrill seeking, and they are a huge make up of Hydro Flask’s consumer base. The typical college student is always looking for the next adventure, whether this includes a day hike, a camping trip in the mountains, or even a backpacking trip across Europe. Because of their need for adventure, this age group could be put into a lot of situations where a water filter would be necessary or desired. When purchasing a water filter college students would choose Hydro Flask over competing brands because of the positive associations that demographic has with the existing brand. College students are always in search of the next trendy product to aid in their adventure, and many are loyal to the Hydro Flask brand, making Hydro Flask the obvious and only choice.

To get a better understanding of the average consumer’s image of the Hydro Flask brand, interviews of fifteen Hydro Flask users were conducted at random. Hydro Flask users were asked questions that were formulated to give an unbiased and honest opinion of the brand. Interviewees were asked thirteen questions, some of these questions included:

  1. “What brands come to mind when I mention reusable bottles?”
  2. “How would you describe those brands if they were a person?”
  3. “If you needed camping gear, would you trust camping gear from Hydro Flask?”
  4. “Which products would you expect to see in a Hydro Flask camping line?”.

The survey takers responded as such:

  1. Subjects mentioned brands such as Nalgene, Contigo, Stanley, YETI, and the most common response recorded among individuals was: Hydro Flask
  2. Hydro Flask was often described as strong and was associated with other traits such as being environmentally conscious, rugged, and outdoorsy, in comparison to Contigo which was described as an individual as being the “average Joe” of water bottles.
  3. Since Hydro Flask currently sells mostly water bottles, some interview participants were initially confused about introducing a camping line. Overall, a vast majority of the interviewees said that they would trust a camping line because Hydro Flask is a reliable brand and has established trust as a brand.
  4. Some interesting brand expansion ideas brought up during the interview include a cooler, a large tumbler, cooking pots, and some went as far as even mentioning an insulated tent because of Hydro Flask’s expertise in insulation. Surprisingly, a water filter was also mentioned by multiple interviewees as a product they would like to see from Hydro Flask.

Although interviews give a great deal of insight into what the consumer wants, they do not give much insight to how Hydro Flask users interact with Hydro Flask products. To get a deeper understanding of how Hydro Flask products are used in everyday life, observations were implemented to supplement Hydro Flask interviews, provide greater depth, and to compare with the respondents’ answers. Such that, while interviews aim for data that the consumer is willing to share, observations seek to explore what has been left unsaid. Students on the University of Washington campus were observed in class with stickers overpopulating their Hydro Flask bottles sitting on their desk, in lounges on their laptops with water bottles close at hand, and rushing across campus with their Hydro Flask product strapped into their backpack. People on the street were seen commuting to work with their Hydro Flask bottles close in hand. Outdoorsy individuals were even seen capturing pictures with their Hydro Flask products to post on their social media. A key takeaway from observations, was that for users who frequently carried their Hydro Flask product around with them, their Hydro Flask became less of a water bottle, and more of an integrated part of their lives.

Brand Association Roadmap

To further understand consumers’ view of the Hydro Flask brand, an online survey was conducted, and included a sample size of approximately 50 people. This survey asked respondents how familiar they were with brands such as Hydro Flask and competitors YETI and Stanley (chosen due to their similar presentation as outdoor brands providing water bottles in addition to other outdoor gear). Based upon that knowledge, respondents were asked to rate how strongly they associated traits like durability, quality, price, and reliability with each individual brand. Through survey questions, it was found that respondents strongly associate Hydro Flask with being outdoorsy, durable, reliable and high quality. Brands such as Stanley was found to be less durable, low quality, and a more affordable option. By collecting consumers’ opinions and associations about the Hydro Flask brand, an association roadmap was created. This roadmap simplifies all of the collected associations from the survey and demonstrates how closely consumers associate Hydro Flask with competing brands, characteristics, and other qualities. Another goal of this research was to narrow down viable product and brand extensions for Hydro Flask, such as camping cookware, hard cooler, and water filter. Respondents were prompted to select what product was the best fit to Hydro Flask’s current brand. The results were clear; over half of respondents said they thought a water filter would be a great addition to the Hydro Flask brand. In addition to these questions, respondents were prompted to answer demographic questions to segment what part of the Hydro Flask target market they belonged to. Survey results concluded that most respondents were familiar with the Hydro Flask brand when compared to their competitors, people expected a high quality and reliable product from Hydro Flask, the consumer wants to see Hydro Flask create a water filter, and from the sample size it was clear that a sizable portion of people that were familiar with the Hydro Flask brand also spent a great deal of time outdoors.

Survey Takeaways

Strategic Recommendations

For Hydro Flask to continue to grow and compete with other major brands, we suggest introducing a water filtration straw as part of their hydration lineup. We suggest the water filter because this is something that already exists adjacent to the current brand lines, but pushes the brand to explore the different scenarios in which Hydro Flask can maintain relevance.

Portable water filters have been used increasingly by travelers to ensure that clean drinking water is readily available, no matter where they are. They are used to filter out unwanted contaminants such as harmful bacteria and viruses. In places where clean drinking water is not guaranteed, a portable water filter is at the top of a travelers packing list. Not only is it good for maintaining good health, it also is good for the environment. Plastic water bottles are wasteful, and the impact from the environmental waste has taken a toll around the world. Not only that, but the process of recycling can also produce excess amounts of waste in the form of airborne pollutants. A portable water filter seeks to remove the middle man, and supply the user with clean drinking water, regardless of wherever they may be.

Proposed Product

The portable water filter, aptly named the Hydro Sip, will be in the form of a straw that is removable for easy cleaning. It will attach to the current Hydro Flask lineup of accessories, and can be used interchangeably with different bottles. The three offerings for the Hydro Sip will be introduced in such a way as to make it easier for the Hydro Flask consumer to easily integrate it into their current set up.

The first will be as an interchangeable straw that can be replaced with the ones that come in the tumbler cup. Where the tumbler cup has a removable and reusable straw, the Hydro Sip can be put in place of it easily. There is no distinction between size and shape, and will blend in seamlessly with the rest of the product.

The second way in which it will be sold will be as an attachment with a lid. The lid and straw combination will be sold in two different sizes, so as to fit the two lip options available—standard and wide mouthed. The length of the straw is such that it can only be used for bottles larger than 18 oz, leaving only the 12 oz option unavailable for the Hydro Sip extension.

The third way in which the Hydro Sip will be sold is as an 18 oz bottle configuration, with a standard mouth. This bottle will be the only configuration available to include the entire Hydro Sip lid and attachment, and will only be sold as an 18 oz size. The material will be around 30% lighter than its counterparts, accounting for a new method of double vacuum production process that uses less material to create the product. The colors available to this bottle setup will be the standard red, yellow, blue, white and black. An important feature that will set these bottles apart from the others will be the new powder coat technology used in the colors. To decrease the slippery feel the bottles have when wet, we changed our proprietary powder coat formula to have more grip and be water resistant, while still maintaining the bright colors Hydro Flask is known for. The color of the Hydro Sip will maintain a similar look to the other straw available, with a black silicon top and durable, BPA free base.

To offer a more aesthetic option, and encourage people to be trend setters and first purchasers, we will offer a limited edition bottle style. This edition will be limited to the duration of the syndicated Clean Water campaign and allow a large portion of the funds to be donated to the cause. The user will be able to purchase a bottle that has an exciting new design, and also know that their purchase is sharing the positive benefits of clean water. The design will reflect the intentions of the clean water campaign, and also the ideals of the Hydro Sip, to pursue clean drinking water wherever we take Hydro Flask.

Hydro Sip's Brand Hierarchy

The Hydro Sip fits into the brand hierarchy already established by Hydro Flask. It currently sits as a modifier, but in the future could be moved into a sub category pending the success of the product. The current selection of Hydro Flask products offers a lot of options for consumers depending on their needs- for coffee, beer and wine, and for water. By offering an option to explore the utility of the water usage, we can further expand our position in the minds of consumers as a hydration focused brand. The use of the water filtration also appeals to consumers who consider wellness integral to their daily life, and by offering a chance to consume clean and filtered water, we will add that association to Hydro Flask. The ability to take Hydro Flask anywhere, and its durability and portability suggests to users that the product can travel with you. It enables the user to explore new places, and offers the comfort of accessible drinking water without the hassle of other traditional methods. This implies a sense of adventure to the Hydro Sip, and creates an air of optimism for the future.

And so, given that our three brand pillars for the Hydro Sip are, Wellness, Hydration, and Adventure, we have decided that the brand essence statement can be summed up as : “Drink Well”. “Drink Well” is an open-ended suggestion to the users to understand the importance of drinking water, and maintaining wellness as part of their daily life. It also suggests that being ‘well’ begins by drinking water, and putting into the minds of how what they put into their bodies directly reflects the state of their ‘wellness’. If one wants to “Drink Well”, one must also be accessible to clean drinking water. It ties into the corresponding campaign for clean drinking water, in which proceeds from the sale will go toward creating wells for clean drinking water in places where they are lacking. Our goal with this is to inspire our consumers to improve their lifestyles and the environment, by offering a way to live a clean and healthy life—both in their bodies and in the environment.

Creating social change and awareness about the lack of clean drinking water is a huge part of the campaign. We want to be able to remind the consumer of why buying our product benefits not only themselves, but people without clean drinking water, and the environment that is embedded with waste from disposable bottles. Environmental justice and social justice are so intrinsically tied together, it would be difficult to associate one without the other. Which is why in the process of creating the strategy for Hydro Sip, we wanted to use our goal of clean earth and clean bodies to be our unofficial north star in guiding us. To spread a message of cleanliness and to create tangible results is a large part of our goal with the product, and we want to ensure our users understand how important it is to the brand.

Our brand attributes are as such: being socially and environmentally conscious in the decision making process, and to understand that by doing so we grant a kind of agency to our product- one to create a cleaner, healthier world. Another important one would be sustainability. This is different from environmental consciousness, in that it relies on the understanding that Hydro Flasks position as a brand cannot change the world. It is only through the work of people who believe in the same things as us, do we come together and create change. While we work to offer solutions for clean drinking water, we also need to address the source of unclean drinking water. Looking at the larger picture, and understanding our position in the scheme of production and environmental waste, we need to look into our lives and understand where it is we can “be the change we want to see in the world”, as Gandhi once said.

Hydro Sip Positioning

Our positioning statement is as follows. For socially conscious and environmentally-minded consumers, the Hydro Sip water filtration straw is the most convenient solution among all hydration products because of our integrated lineup that utilizes recycled materials and optimizes the utility of our products. This will help set the tone for our future marketing campaigns. We want to maintain the serious and environmentally conscious outlook, but also create a sense of experiential outdoor living. The user imagery will be a self-reliant individual, such that they highlight the values of clean living and clean bodies, and maintain an avid interest in exploring the world around them.

Tactical Solutions & Brand Engagement Strategies

Hydro Flask Pacific Crest Trail Challenge

The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,660-mile footpath connecting Mexico to Canada by a way of California, Oregon, and Washington. This trail is widely known in the Pacific Northwest and many backpackers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts across the nation dream of hiking it at some point in their lives. Because of its location and popularity, we decided to use the trail as a way to introduce the Hydro Sip bottle and Hydro Sip straw to Hydro Flask’s outdoorsy target market. The Hydro Flask Pacific Crest Trail Challenge will consist of following two hikers online as they embark on an exciting journey across the Pacific Crest Trail. We will sponsor Nick and Jen to complete this challenge. They are a couple who hikes trails all over the Pacific Northwest and share their adventures through their YouTube channel called “Outside and Stuff.” We decided to sponsor them because not only are they experienced hikers, but they also know how to perform well in front of a camera. The challenge will begin at the beginning of March and can take 2-4 months to complete. We will ask Nick and Jen to share their experiences throughout their journey via video diaries. Along the way, one video dairy should focus on introducing the Hydro Sip bottle and Hydro Sip straw as the hikers use them to filter water from a river. Of course, they will also be required to casually use the product during other video diaries. When the challenge has been completed, we will edit the content and launch it in all of Hydro Flask’s social media platforms and on their webpage, which features videos of passionate people enjoying their lives in the outdoors.

Drink Well Campaign

A week after the introduction of our Hydro Sip products, we will advertise our Drink Well Campaign. This campaign will consist of donating 10 percent of the Hydro Sip bottle proceeds to an organization that builds wells in communities that do not have access to clean water. Therefore, every time someone buys a bottle, the donations increase in volume, which we hope will motivate customers to try the new product. The organization that we chose for this campaign is Well Aware, which is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Austin, Texas. We decided to go with Well Aware because their mission goes beyond building wells in Africa; They build sustainable wells and water systems that allow communities to become self-sufficient. They also provide hygiene and sanitation training that further strengthen the communities they help. Their focus in community and sustainability align with our pillars and brand attributes so we can use their brand to leverage our own brand associations. With this campaign, we hope to build awareness of our “Drink Well” brand essence statement as well as our pillars and brand attributes that strengthen the relationship between our brand and the beliefs of those we are targeting. For our Drink Well Campaign advertisements, we will use short clips to show how our donations are helping Well Aware continue to make a difference in communities around the world. The clips will be shown on Hydro Flask’s social media platforms and website. We will also promote it in retail stores where Hydro Sip bottles are sold.

Hiking and Survival Training

Hydro Flask will sponsor a hiking and outdoor survival training a month after the introduction of their Hydro Sip products. This event will only be available to early adopters. Participants are required to bring their Hydro Sip bottle or straw to be used as part of the training. We chose Smith Rock State Park in Oregon as the location because it has miles of hiking trails as well as river canyons to put Hydro Flask’s new product to the test. We also chose this location because Hydro Flask recently provided a grant to this state park through their Parks For All program so they can leverage their brand associations by demonstrating how their environmental efforts are maintaining state parks. There will be three different training sessions in different areas of the park in order to maximize the number of people that can benefit from this training. Each session will consist of 15 participants that will be chosen at random. In order to be considered for this training, early adopters must sign-up via our website. The winners for this free hiking and survival training will be announced a week before the event on our website and social media platforms using the hashtag #HydroSiptoSurvive. We will encourage participants to use the hashtag during the training. At the end of the day, all the sessions will meet at a campsite to enjoy a meal and build connections with other outdoor enthusiast. If the event is a success, we will do similar trainings in different cities across the nation. Although this time anyone who has a Hydro Sip bottle or straw will qualify.

Measurement Plan

Hydro Flask Pacific Crest Trail Challenge

We will measure the web traffic on the webpage for a month after the videos have been released. At the end of the month, we will compare the amount of web traffic to previous months as a way to measure its success. We will also measure the number of impressions, engagements, and shares on social media posts. A 30 percent increase in social media activity and website will be considered a success.

Drink Well Campaign

To measure the success of this campaign, we will send out a survey to customers all over the nation via email asking them if they are aware of the Drink Well Campaign. In order for this campaign to be considered a success, 60 percent of those who filled out the survey must be aware of the campaign. This survey will be conducted three months after the introduction of the campaign.

Hiking and Survival Training

We will count the number of people that registered for this event as a way to measure its success. If the amount of people that registered are three times the amount that are chosen to participate, this brand engagement strategy will be considered a success. But only if those chosen to participate actually show up to the event. The hashtag will also be used to measure the level of engagement with the brand. The more times the hashtag is used, the higher the level of engagement.

Price and Place

The price of our Hydro Sip products will communicate the high-quality aspect of the Hydro Flask brand. The Hydro Sip straw will have a price of $9.99, the Hydro Sip straw and lid will be priced at $12.99. The prices of both of these products reflect current prices for similar products available in the market. But for our Hydro Sip bottle, we priced it at the same level as the more expensive options available in the market. Since Hydro Flask is already known for its high-quality and extremely durable products, we will reinforce this association by pricing its filtering water bottle at $49.99.

Hydro Flask already has a strong presence in the retail stores where we want to make our new product available. Some of these stores include REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Backcountry, which is an online retail store for outdoor gear. The important thing now is our product placement. Hydro Sip products will be available in the hiking or camping section of physical and online retail stores.

Hydro Sip Web Prototype
Hydro Flask Competitive Positioning Matrix
Additional Survey Results