Eco-friendly development paired with an authentically ‘Marley’ marketing message resonates with audiophiles who also care about the environment.
The House of Marley is built on the principles that Bob Marley held true—namely respecting nature while bringing music to life. While the company’s brand and state-of-the-art audio products exude sustainability and innovative design, the most recent product addition—the No Bounds speaker series stays true to the company’s brand vision—resulting in a product brand that is appealing to environmentally conscious consumers, while benefiting the environment.
Ready for adventure
The No Bounds speaker series is House of Marley’s response to the consumer’s need to listen to music wherever they choose to adventure—all while giving back to Mother Nature.
“Marley has always striven to provide great acoustics and sustainable portability in our wireless speaker line up, but some of our material choices didn’t lend themselves to the growing requirement of rugged outdoor use and waterproof standards,” says Josh Poulsen, director of product development, House of Marley. “We chose to create a three-tier product family, each with specific form factors and use cases, in order to solve the problems a product can face when exposed to the elements.”
The House of Marley team recognized the newest speakers to its product lineup needed to be rugged, drop-resistant, waterproof and dust-proof to industry standard IP67, while remaining portable and clip-able. Of course, the designs also needed to follow the company’s brand pillars of sustainability and quality sound, while also looking great.
“We partnered up with MNML, a design firm in Chicago, early in the conceptual phase as the agency shared a passion for our materials and attention to detail,” Poulsen says. “Together we created a great looking product family that embodied our principles.”
According to Dave Seal, principal designer at MNML, the firm is very familiar with the Marley brand, its assets and standards, and used that knowledge to influence the vibe of the product design.
As Seal explains, the design of No Bounds is all about pushing the limits of what a Marley speaker can be, and embracing the unique library of recyclable materials.
“Marley is not like others in the category; it doesn’t look like electronics in the same way many brands do, and we are very conscious of this as a design team when we work with them,” Seal says.
The MNML team looked at new ways to use bamboo on many of the early designs, but ultimately, the true winner was the molded cork that ended up on the No Bounds, No Bounds Sport and No Bounds XL. It’s versatile like a molded material but with a texture you can’t get from any molded source.
“Materials are one of the strengths of working with Marley, there’s always something new to explore,” Seal says.
In concept development the MNML team went wide to see how far it could push the limits of what a Marley speaker could be.
“We looked at forms Marley had not explored in production before and as a group decided what felt appropriate but also new for the brand,” Seal says. Marley’s design language is, in general, simple forms cut with clean planes for the material breaks. MNML tweaked this approach into a shelled volume so that the outside “shell” would read as a bumper communicating a more rugged design for the outdoors.
“It’s subtle but works in context with the rest of Marley’s speaker line,” Seal says. “We also looked at new ways to carry or attach the speaker for travel, ways to store accessories like cables and phones during use, etc. This led to the cable stash base on No Bounds Sport. Not all the concepts made it into production, but a few of them might live in a future product someday.”
Throughout the engineering phase, the House of Marley and MNML collaborated to ensure design intent was not lost as it often is when changes or compromises are required to meet performance specifications.
As Poulsen explains, the materials choices were not merely aesthetic; they also were required for performance.
“In our exploration, we discovered that a new material, agglomerated cork, was perfect for the application due to its many properties such as sound dampening, impact resistance and water imperviousness,” Poulsen says. “Along with the Regrind cork component, we blended the use of our Regrind silicone and a version of our Rewind fabrics as they also provided impact, water and abrasion-resistant properties. During late stages of development we conducted several rounds of testing in the field rather than relying solely on results from a lab. We strived to create a line of speakers that truly had ‘No Bounds.’”
Lucas Wright-Moore, product manager, House of Marley adds, “Integrating an environmentally friendly and sustainable material such as cork had never been done before in audio. Considering its natural waterproof, antimicrobial, and buoyant properties, it was a perfect complement to the outdoor speaker series and our adventurous consumer.”
Maximizing positive eco impacts
Indeed, House of Marley’s social and eco-initiatives have “no bounds” and go far beyond the innovative, eco-friendly design components used within its products. Recently the House of Marley announced its partnership with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit dedicated to worldwide reforestation efforts. As part of this partnership, a percentage of each House of Marley product sold will contribute to planting 75,000 trees in an effort to spread awareness of global forest restoration needs and corporate social responsibility.
“We were approached by the House of Marley who wanted to hear who we were, how it started, what type of tree planting projects we worked with and after a few conversations, House of Marley liked our story and how our model worked,” says Matt Hill, founder, One Tree Planted. “We hit it off, formed a partnership and started to plant trees with them.”
As Hill explained, the goal was not so much about one for one or being carbon neutral. Rather it was about making a commitment, making a positive impact and helping the environment.
“House of Marley spends the time to properly source the sustainable materials that it uses to make its products such as bamboo and cork and are conscious of today’s consumer who is looking for companies that are taking the right steps in helping the environment,” Hill says. “Over time and getting commitments from businesses such as the House of Marley that are helping reforestation efforts around the World—it starts to add up and tree by tree turns into forests.”
Wright-Moore stresses that every new House of Marley product will continue to focus on the sustainability brand message.
The No Bounds Series was positioned as a durable, semi-rugged outdoor line from The House of Marley. This series was intended to attract the outdoorsman or woman researching waterproof Bluetooth speaker alternatives from the mainstream brands. Identified as being savvier than most, these consumers were also interested in researching brands to find one that fit their personal lifestyles.
“In our efforts, we aimed to target those who had interests rooted in sustainability, quality and philanthropy,” Poulsen says. “Identifying keywords related to these interests, as well as feature benefits, led the direction for most of the photography, copy and ad targeting for this campaign.”
No Bounds is Marley’s first product line that’s designed and engineered from the ground up for outdoor use. At MNML, the agency wanted to give the line a cohesive design language that felt like Marley but had several details that gave it the range to stretch into an outdoor product.
“We think of it as a design language evolution inside of a well-established brand,” Seal says. “To support this from a feature side, all three designs are waterproof, and the No Bounds, No Bounds Sport and No Bounds XL models float.”
The No Bounds product line up fits nicely into the overall House of Marley brand by recreating a family of products around a use case of the outdoors while also looking good enough to belong in the home.
“We did not compromise on our pillars of quality sound and sustainability. Our previous line up may have been portable, but lacked the ruggedness required to withstand the elements and honestly were more suited for home use,” Poulsen says. “More consumers are now shopping for Bluetooth speakers that can live in both environments. Where we win is our lineup doesn’t look like most outdoor rugged speakers.”
Poulsen believes this helps the company extend to new customers on both ends of the spectrum—namely active consumers who may have ignored the House of Marley brand as it appeared to not offer a rugged choice for their active lifestyles, and also consumers who wants an alternative to the purely sport-driven look that most portable speakers tend to have.
“With the No Bounds family, we are really blurring the lines,” Poulsen says.
For more information, visit:
House of Marley, www.thehouseofmarley.com
Minimal Inc., www.mnml.com
One Tree Planted, www.onetreeplanted.org