Cascade Mountain Ascents is a Bellingham-based mountain guiding company offering trips and courses centered around ski, alpine, and rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest.
The team behind Cascade Mountain Ascents came to me on the brink of launching their new business and sought a brand identity that would emulate their new approach to the industry and a website that would skyrocket their growth.
Having worked for other companies in the industry, the four founders were looking to take a left turn from the hypermasculine elitist vibe of their competitors and offer a welcoming and compassionate environment to encourage new outdoor enthusiasts. Their brand needed to balance founding members’ joyous, fun-loving appeal with the their years of experience and professionalism. In essence – you want your mountain guide to be fun, but he or she must know what they are doing and get you home safely at the end of the day.
Fresh Lines Approach:
We started this process with a strategy-first approach, identifying the key values, target audience, and primary mission the brand needed to embody. This included a competitor analysis and strategy breakdown to iron out the fine details.
We identified two main subgroups that comprised the makeup of our target audience, the adventure seeker and the student. With two general service offerings, trips, and courses, the overall brand needed to appeal to a wide range of prospective customers.
The Adventure Seeker is in their mid-20s to mid-40s and makes upwards of 6 figures a year. They typically have a bit of experience in the mountains and are ready to take their adventures to the next level with a guided trip into some of the best areas around the Pacific Northwest. They are looking for fun and to push themselves both physically and mentally.
Like the Adventure Seeker, the Student is also in their mid-20s to mid-40s and makes between $70k and $150k a year. They’re looking to expand their knowledge of backcountry travel and snow science and rope systems to feel more comfortable and capable in the mountains. They too have had some experience with backcountry travel but know there’s still a lot to learn.
Strategy through Design
In order to create this welcoming experience while still demonstrating the depth of their expertise and knowledge I utilized the following design aesthetics:
Softer lines and Rounded Corners
- To juxtapose the harsh and intimidating aesthetic of some competitor brands I brought in softer lines and created a mountainscape with more curves and rounded corners. I carried this design choice through to the website and brand collateral as well.
Earthy Color Palette
- To appeal to a wide general audience I wanted the color palette to inspire interest and fun and feel reminiscent of colors you might find in the mountains.
Levity through Typography
- Carrying the theme of lightness and fun and using those softer lines, I decided to pull in a font that mimicked many of those principles. I wanted the feel of the branding to come through whether you were seeing the full logo or just the wordmark.
Cascade Mountain Ascents’ offerings span 24 individual trip options, 21-course options, and 7 product categories. They also sell branded merchandise and offer online bookings. The site needed to communicate information clearly, offer a high level of organization, and give their prospective customers inspiration for future purchases. When visiting the site, you immerse yourself in the CMA brand and have a full menu of exciting adventure options ahead of you. With clear navigation, you can pursue the many ways in which you buy into the CMA experience and book your trip instantaneously.
In their first year of business, the CMA team saw massive growth. They hired 4 new guides to fill out their team and added 7 new products, 5 new trip offerings, and 3 new course offerings. They’ve built strong relationships with 7 partner brands and are growing their social media following by the day. Their website has seen over 8k viewers with upwards of 11k sessions and they’re booking out trips and courses months in advance. I am so proud of how well they’re doing and will continue to support their brand in any way that I can.