Brand Backstory: YETI
“Keep Austin Weird” is the catchphrase of the capital city of Texas, one of the most traditional of the fifty states that comprise the United States. And weird it is, indeed. Having lived there for six months, I can confirm that the city is a funky, open-minded oasis amidst an otherwise historically conformist state. Austin is the live music capital of the world, offers a plethora of adventurous cuisine, and is home to avant-garde residents from across the nation.
Perhaps this unique environment was the catalyst for the birth of YETI, currently one of the largest names in outdoor products. Founded in 2006 by brothers Roy and Ryan Seiders, the company has grown exponentially over the last sixteen years, distributes their products worldwide, and is worth just shy of $4 billion today. So, what is their story?
Their premise was simple - after spending the majority of their lives hunting, fishing, and exploring the outdoors, the pair became frustrated that they could never find a cool box that was as tough as they were. More often than not their cool box, hammered from wear and tear, would end up in the rubbish at the end of a single adventure. The pair decided they would take it upon themselves to design a durable, sleek, and practical alternative.
YETI’s strategy is built upon six key values. Authenticity and innovation are the lifeblood of the company - the roots which support the tree as a whole. Striving for improvement, prioritising the most impactful activities, and going the extra mile are three approaches that lead to constant innovation and evolution of their products. Acting with a sense of urgency is crucial, because the clock is ticking on climate change and habitat destruction. The final value, “No one succeeds alone”, drives home the family-run nature of the business.
With these values in mind, the company has three areas of focus - people, product, and places. Although employees are responsible for making the magic happen, it is also the supply chain and global communities at large that the company wants to serve. Secondly, when developing thoughtful products, YETI puts more emphasis on the environmental impact of the item than how much financial profit it will make. Finally, the company pledges to support partners and communities in restorative actions that will regenerate the planet and the wild species that live on it. As humans, the more time we spend outside, the more we understand our responsibility to protect the places that we love.
In early 2020, YETI celebrated a milestone when they signed a multi-year contract with Major League Soccer’s 27th club, Austin FC. The agreement granted YETI rights to become the club’s official jersey partner and newest founding partner, marking the global brand’s formal entry into both professional soccer and eSports.
The collaboration was also significant because of both organisations' commitment to sustainability efforts. The contract launched several green initiatives, which included comprehensive recycling, composting, and water refill policies and practices at Austin FC’s stadium. Finally, YETI and Austin FC will have the chance to partner in league-wide programming such as MLS Greener Goals week and the eco-friendly jersey product designed for Earth Week, which occurs in late-April.
But YETI’s sustainability efforts do not end with the MLS’ newest club. The company focuses on developing circular systems; this entails designing products with longevity and versatility in mind. For example, many products have replaceable components, which prevents having to buy an entire new cool box if one part of it breaks. All of this leads to fewer resources ending up in a landfill. In 2020, the company diverted 298,000 pounds of material from landfills and another 157,000 pounds of material through July 2021. Even when it comes to the packaging of their products, the goal is to be completely compostable by 2025.
The company also aims to do their part to restore the wild by amplifying the voices of their 130+ ambassadors from an array of disciplines. Their stories and actions emphasise the importance of conserving and restoring natural spaces through community effort and responsible recreation. These ambassadors are on the front lines of climate change, witnessing first-hand its impact on wildlife, natural resources, communities, and the outdoor recreation economy. In terms of business operations, YETI pays close attention to its own greenhouse gas emissions, strives to have a smaller carbon footprint, and even measures electricity usage across domestic and international stores.
YETI’s final mission is to engage a new generation of nature advocates, and inspire people to get outdoors and explore the wild. That is how the Seidler’s see it. “The more people have the opportunity to explore the transformative power of nature, the more inspired they are to protect it. That is why we are focused on creating access and inclusive experiences to help shape outdoor stewards of the future.”
Shop all YETI at Always in Colour.
Text: Elliott Wright
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