Horny Toad rebrands under Toad & Co.

SNEWS has the inside scoop and first look at the new Toad & Co. with CEO and owner Gordon Seabury.
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After more than two decades with its quirky name, outdoor lifestyle and active apparel maker Horny Toad is rebranding the company.

Officials will unveil Toad & Co. at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2014, reflecting a more modern mark and expanded scope in both product and mission.

“It was time to do a full evaluation of the brand,” Owner and CEO Gordon Seabury told SNEWS in an exclusive first interview. “That included the name, which, for some [the word ‘horny’] represented an undertoe in reaching the next level that we wanted achieve. Many of our core retailers indicated a name change would serve us well.”

ToadAndCoNewLogo

Horny Toad derived its name from the pet horned toad lizard of founder Jessica Nordhaus in the early 1990s. But flash ahead to the 21st century and the name increasingly was having to deal with digital world hurdles, including getting caught up in spam filters, said Seabury, who bought the company in 1995 and has led it since.

While the name change might grab the most attention on the Summer Market show floor, Seabury noted the evolution more importantly represents an expansion for the brand — both with an entry into the adventure travel market (see more below) and an increased focus on Toad & Co.’s non-profit missions.

“The ‘& Co.’ signals that the brand is more than just about selling products,” he said.

Horny Toad always had a non-profit push, in particular with its independent partner Planet Access Co., but the plan now is to up the awareness.

 Toad & Co. CEO Gordon Seabury.

Toad & Co. CEO Gordon Seabury.

The non-profit push will make its own news at Outdoor Retailer as Toad & Co. partners with 1% For the Planet to expand that organization’s push into social giving, beyond just its environmental efforts. It’s all part of a recent broader push — from the likes of Outdoor Nation and Big City Mountaineers — to raise awareness that that the future of the outdoors not only depends on safeguarding natural lands, but also widening its reach among an increasingly urban population.

On the product side of things, Toad & Co. enters travel market with a collection of new shirts, pants and shorts at Summer Market. The objective is to be subtle and stylish, but technical, officials said. That means performance fabrics but no zip-off pants or baggy pockets, plus a lot more influence in fashion from Europe and Central America.

 Toad & Co. Men's Sojourner Jacket

Toad & Co. Men's Sojourner Jacket

“People don’t want to look like adventure travelers,” Seabury said. “They want to blend in.”

Fabrics in the new collection include recycled polyester, Tencel, nylon and organic cotton blends that are easy to wash and dry on the road.

To wrap everything up, Toad & Co. plans to up its marketing efforts supporting the name change, new products and expanded mission.

“We’ve always been a product-driven brand — build it and they will come,” Seabury said, “but we’re realizing now we have to be much more effective on the marketing side, too.”

--David Clucas

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