How you do anything is how you do everything. Multi-award winning performance and protective gear company POC builds its legacy on ensuring its products keep users as safe as possible while giving them the freedom to perform at their best.
Words NICK RICE Photography ANTON RENBORG
This is part one of three in a brand study of POC. This part covers the heritage and origin story of the protective gear company.
It’s been over a century since Daniel Starch, the American psychologist and one of the pioneers of market research, developed his theory that advertising had to be seen, read, believed, remembered, and acted upon, in order to be effective. Since the 1920s, when the science of determining the inclinations, motivations, and buying behaviour of customers took off, there have been countless consumer studies conducted. Sifting through the findings of the vast majority will yield the vital importance of two factors that attract customers — quality and uniqueness.
The crucial element then follows of communicating those product attributes with the target audience. Starch advised that, “Much advertising copy would be improved immensely by doing away with brag and substituting actual facts about the merits of the article.” Here, the Swedish modern protection company POC has always had integrity. With signature Scandinavian modesty, POC has never indulged in exaggeration since its inception in 2004.
Stefan Ytterborn, who founded POC together with Jan Woxning, grew up on ski slopes, deeply into racing downhill skiing, with two sons that followed in his slipstream.
— We founded POC with the mission to save lives and reduce the consequences of accidents, for skiers and gravity sports athletes, by developing better and more accurate products, says Jan, who is still with the company today.
From day one, there were no outlandish claims, no liberal embellishments of the product’s virtues, just hard facts allied with an unswerving commitment to creating protection equipment and apparel that works to the highest possible standards for safety and performance. This central drive to invent, innovate and raise the bar struck a chord with many elite athletes, who participated in the development process from the early days onwards, testing and confirming ideas and concepts.
This is the cornerstone of POC’s heritage and serves as the foundation of trust for the brand’s roster of professional athletes and its ever-expanding consumer community.
— We started off focused on the performance element, Monica Lindström, Head of Apparel, explains — how a product works, breathability, aerodynamics, compression, but of course there’s always been the protection element. That’s our DNA and that’s what we’re always striving to improve.
This core commitment to performance and safety has been globally recognised and POC has been awarded more than 70 international design awards to date. As a trailblazer in the field of snow sports and cycling, POC is now present in over 45 countries and has multiple design and technology patents, plus a growing team of POC athletes who are consistently winning World Champion Gold Medals, the last Winter Olympics included.
Lina Elfstrand, Chief Marketing Officer says:
— We’ve always believed that the safest helmet is the one that you choose to wear. We don’t talk about design much in our process but we have a very strong design language… a Scandinavian design ethic that translates through the whole of the collection. POC’s range has evolved from cutting edge ski helmets to include bike helmets and an array of mountain and road essentials for men, women and children, from spine protectors, jackets and vests, through to bibs, jerseys, gloves and many more accessories.
The appeal of POC was never restricted to performance cyclists alone, and the brand has always enjoyed the support of urban cyclists – the daily commuters and city riders who form an important part of the POC community.
As a way to explore the unknown and cross fertilise ideas, POC established POC Lab — a scientific forum comprising some of the world’s foremost sports medicine experts, brain scientists, and specialists in spinal cord injuries, who all advise POC in the development of the most reliable and advanced protection goods possible. POC also founded watts Lab— a highly-specialised department whose objective is to optimise performance and aerodynamics in POC products.
These two labs are instrumental in [LJ1] creating POC collections, such as AVIP (POC’s first ever cycling collection in 2014, short for Attention, Visibility, Interaction and Protection) the road bike range promoting safety for road cyclists, and POC and Forth, which focuses on wearable technology, innovative connectivity, and advanced fabrics for commuters and urban cyclists. The latter was recognised with the prestigious Design S trophy — Sweden’s national design award that commends creative and innovative solutions across all fields.
POC plants a flag in the ground right between the twin goals of the best possible performance, and the highest level of protection. The company’s commitment to these objectives speaks to the Founder’s original motivation for founding the company — saving lives — and the heritage of POC is inherent in the brand values.
Monica Lindström, who is the force behind concepts such as AVIP has been instrumental in the expansion of POC into apparel. She says:
— POC has a really strong heritage in helmets. Everyone knows that we started with ski helmets and then proceeded to bike helmets and now we’re establishing the awareness of apparel. We’re expanding possibilities and doing more of what we want to do… and in everything we do, we have our safety mission and a focus on making the best apparel for extreme conditions.
The way you do anything, is the way you do everything. In that respect, we can expect the POC legacy to continue its growth and maintain its dedicated focus on the safety and performance of the POC community.