Transworld Business Exclusive Interview With Damon Way

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In Early April, DC announced that the brand’s Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Damon Way, would be transitioning into a role as a consultant. The very next day a press release came out saying that Way was taking on the position as Chief Brand Officer for an Apple accessories company called Incase. Transworld Business caught up with Way to find out why he’s making the move, and what Incase is all about. Here’s what Way had to say.

How did you get involved with Incase?

I met Tony Held [co-owner] on a plane ride from S.F. to S.D. From there we started working together on a DC/Incase collaborative project that landed DC in Apple and Incase into select skateboard retailers.

Have you been with the brand since it launched?

No, I started working with the brand in the collaborative sense in 2002 and later became a shareholder in 2006.

When did it launch?

The brand was launched in 1997. I became aware of Incase around 2000 when looking for a proper notebook sleeve at the local S.F. Apple dealer, MacAdam.

What is your involvement, are you an owner/partner?

I am currently a shareholder and board member of the company and have most recently assumed the position of chief brand officer on a full-time basis. My responsibilities are centered on the brand’s positioning and messaging relative to the various market channels we operate in.

Recently you stepped back from day-to-day at DC and are focusing on Incase.
Why did you make that decision?

DC is an amazing company, full of great people, as well as a brand that I have been with since its inception in 1993/94—which in years accounts for almost half my life. I was just ready to challenge myself with something new, something that I could get involved with at an early stage in its growth trajectory and really contribute to building in both size and depth.

What has you excited about Incase?

I would have to say that the product piece is what speaks to me the most. I admire companies that have built strong reputations on product without the need to over-market due to inadequacies in this area. I view this as being very aspirational, which speaks to me on a very deep level.

Why’d you decide to get involved with an accessories company that specializes in Apple products?

I see a clear opportunity for the brand to be so much bigger than it currently is—a brand that not only holds the dominant position in Apple, but also extends into a variety of market segments that are in alignment with the progressive nature of the Apple demographic—design, fashion, sports, music, film, and travel.

What are Incase’s major distribution channels?

Incase product is distributed globally through Apple retail, the Apple Store, and additional Apple authorized retailers. In addition to this we are currently working on a strategy to sell into specialty retail with new product line extensions that are aimed at new demographics.

What are the major marketing initiatives for the brand?

I don’t think you will see a huge spike out of the gate relative to our marketing efforts. We will take our time to tailor our message, then work to slowly seed it into the marketplace. Incase has a reputation built on product, and as a result we have to be mindful that our efforts are working toward enhancing the foundation from which product is communicated.

Can you give me an idea of the company’s size?

That would be giving away too much.

Who is Incase’s customer/target demographic?

The Apple enthusiast.

There seems to be a ton of companies going after that customer these days, what makes Incase different?

The brand represents the convergence of the lifestyle and technology markets. We are aligned with strong demographics that exist as influencers and consumers of technology products. It is our goal to bridge that gap in terms of retail accessibility by working to create compelling product stories that will be supported by Apple, boutiques, and skate shops alike.

Are you still involved over at DC or totally focused on Incase now?

I am still involved with DC. I have shifted my position at the company to being a consultant where I will continue to work on the kind of brand positioning projects that I have for the last eight years.

Who are some of the other investors/key figures at Incase, and how’d you get hooked up with the brand?

The ownership structure of the company is comprised of five people including Tony Held, Erik Wahlstrom, Joe Tan, Bobby Chang, and myself. Joe and Bobby founded the company in 1997, applying their combined design experience from companies like Apple, Nike, and IDEO, into the foundation of what makes up Incase today, a company driven by a premium design ethos that is never compromised. The brand’s mantra and filter for all that we do is “A better experience through good design.” This more or less sums it up.