Brand Engagement on the Go with the Columbia GPS PAL
Columbia Sportswear Company has been keeping outdoor enthusiasts well equipped for more than 70 years. Looking to expand reach by adding to their mobile portfolio, the innovative apparel company partnered with PK to bring to life a ground-breaking mobile app and website that aligns with their brand promise of helping customers enjoy the outdoors.
GPS PAL users track their adventures, capturing photos, videos, and notes that automatically set GPS tags on a map of the trek. Although the app also tracks distance, time, pace and elevation, performance is not the focus. GPS PAL’s differentiation in the marketplace is that the app is more about journaling and enjoying the adventure. The companion website allows users to add more content, ratings, and comments and then share the complete story with friends and family.
The GPS PAL launch is a model for effectively releasing a mobile app to the marketplace. Collaborating on the launch plan with Columbia’s PR and marketing groups culminated in several huge wins with high profile media coverage, including television, online, and print reviews. In addition, Apple hand-picked GPS PAL as “New and Noteworthy” the week after launch.
We are at our best when we’re able to bring together the innovative spirit of our in-house interests and research with the digital aspirations of our clients; this proved to be especially true with GPS PAL. The first step of rapid prototyping allowed us to assess the feasibility of the concept, enabling us to explore various technologies and functionality we planned on using.
Based on our then-proven technical approach, we created a detailed feature matrix and project roadmap that aligned to the overall business goals and objectives of Columbia. We leveraged the app’s Experience Design plans from Columbia’s previous agency and provided strategic recommendations for developing the companion website, ensuring the customer experience remained seamless across all platforms.
The entire Experience Design team stayed involved throughout the project to ensure that the cross-platform interaction and visual design evolved with the implementation. Our Analytics group also ensured that the business performance of each element could be tracked and understood.
GPS PAL is more than just a mobile outdoor companion app. The implementation included separate, parallel development efforts for iOS and Android platforms, in addition to the shared backend of the companion website that communicates with each.
The successful launch and media coverage of GPS PAL would not have been reached without the collaboration of the entire team across multiple disciplines. Nearly every PK service was utilized, including Experience Design, Intelligence & Analytics, and Digital Engineering, backed up by one of our rain-making senior project managers.
The launch of a mobile app (or website) is never the end. Correlating with the media and social success of the app, download and usage numbers are trending well. PK and Columbia continually analyze analytics being tracked by Flurry and Google Analytics, as well as user comments and suggestions, to inform future app updates.
“After 200-plus ratings in the App Store, it’s sitting at over 4 stars; that’s impressive.” –Engadget.