Whole Brand Thinking: Turn your marketing into a product.

Tracksmith Cover Image Wide

To be an expert in Whole Brand Thinking™, you need to have your finger on the pulse of the brands that are changing the game. There aren’t many brands doing it better right now than Tracksmith™. 

Tracksmith™ is an independent running brand that honors the amateur spirit of running + champions the “running class,” those non-professional athletes that are dedicated to the pursuit of running excellence. 

They are “a brand by + for those obsessed with details, born from the brain of a founder that happens to be an exceptional documentarian and marketeer. Harnessing a historic bent, their classic collegiate aesthetic trades on Ivy League academia. Think grey marl sweats, diagonal sash motif singlets, and muted shades recalling the palettes of New England track teams with names like berry, sea pine, + lagoon. Tracksmith is a visceral pushback against the neon bombast of the sportswear its founder was seeing everywhere else.” 

Beyond the product strategy + design, what we love about Tracksmith is their single-mindedness and hyper-focused, cult-like behavior. As their website says, “Tracksmith is a challenger. Without the size or scale, most brands enjoy, we rely on our ingenuity. We are small, so we need to be nimbler, quicker, + craftier.” 

Tracksmith is “a ‘pure’ running label; it doesn’t dabble in other sports nor lean into the trend for hybrid fitness.” Established in 2014, revenues have grown 280% since 2019, thanks to a timely breed of intellectually centered athletics, soulful cultural stewardship – including content spotlighting running’s unsung heroes + seminal narratives – and programs for aspirational amateurs that gently nod towards a new era of stakeholder capitalism.”

Tracksmith does so many things right, from its product innovation and internal culture to its partnerships and real-world experiences. But one part of the brand is especially worth noting: Tracksmith has blurred the line between content and advertising, turning their communications into a “product” of the brand, itself (the Holy Grail for a brand). 

From a recent Forbes article: “In Tracksmith’s tale of art + intellect intersecting with commerce, arguably the biggest coup to date has been getting Malcolm Gladwell, the don of populist intellectualism, on board, spurring a conversation with Tracksmith’s founder that saw him write + voice the brand’s first TV commercial – broadcast on NBC – during the U.S. Olympic trials. The collaboration also led to the brand’s inaugural podcast, The Legacy of Speed, produced by Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries team.

Tracksmith is taking everything their brand stands for + making sure that extends through all their communication, blurring the line between what is content, advertising, or a product. This is what can happen for whole brands; everything connects and ideas build off each other.


  1. Create a powerful editorial authority, thinking of your brand like a magazine. What can you confidently talk about that people care about, beyond your product or service?

  2. How might your content + advertising be seen as a “product” of your brand, something that people seek out on their own that makes your brand more valuable, not just a marketing investment? What is useful about what you do? What makes what you do entertaining?

  3. Think of partnerships as a creative tool and a brief for everything you do. How might your biggest fans also be influencers? What other brands love you? Who is your brand’s Malcolm Gladwell? Run a partnership workshop across every aspect of your organization.

Tracksmith's latest film is here.

This article originally appeared in the Whole Brand Briefing newsletter.

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