Client Case Study: Girls On Hills

Branding photography with a Scottish Trail Running Company with a female focus

March 1, 2021

Introduction:

I have recently been doing some work with a Scottish outdoor company called Girls On Hills. Based in Glencoe, they deliver trail running and mountaineering courses and experiences for all female clients. As pioneers in this field for solely female runners and mountaineers their following on their social channels and via their website is quite large with over 7000 followers on Facebook alone. Having had an initial chat with founding director, Keri Wallace, I spoke with my wife who informed me that they were a company she follows on Facebook and, consequently, was excited to hear that I had the opportunity to work with them. I didn’t need anything more.

This blog post, and those that follow with the same theme is an insight into the services that I’m offering to outdoor businesses to help sell their services or products to the outdoor industry and their customers.

Company Overview:

‘Girls on Hills Ltd is Scotland’s only guided trail, fell and skyrunning company, designed specifically for women. We also offer navigation, hill-walking and mountain safety courses suitable for all abilities. We seek to empower women with the skills and confidence necessary to become independent in the mountain environment. Bespoke guided trail running and hiking adventures are available for both men and women. We offer coaching and teach mountain safety skills along the way, all the while allowing you to experience the tranquillity of our remote trails.... Whether you are new to the mountains or are seeking a new challenge, we can offer you wilderness and adventure in equal measure.

Girls on Hills is the recommended and exclusive provider of recce events for Skyline Scotland and Ultra Trail Scotland. These events are OPEN TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN and are delivered by professionally qualified guides.’ Source: https://m.facebook.com/GirlsOnHills/#!/notes/girls-on-hills/guided-running-hiking-for-women-in-the-scottish-highlands/145844406131782/

Point of Contact: Keri Wallace (Founding director with Nancy Kennedy)

Photographic Requirements:

Girls on Hills came to me to discuss how I could help them to make their website and social media imagery more current and engaging. They had previously been snapping images on their phones when out running for themselves, on their courses and guided runs at a moment when a good photograph presented itself. While this had been going reasonably well, they were all too aware that they needed higher resolution images for their publicity and marketing material and wanted to drive their messages home to their client base. They asked for branding imagery to help them with these problems. They also said that they wanted to appeal to new clients who would want to come on their courses and that getting across the company brand was very important to generating interest with new prospects.

Looking at their website and by taking with Keri it became apparent that their needs were quite straight forward but strong image messaging was really important to them and that they wanted to say the following:

  • The services offered are for women only (excluding the recce’s that are provided on behalf of the Skyline Scotland and Ultra Trail Scotland)
  • All GoH instructors/guides are knowledgeable professionals with numerous years of experience in their field.
  • Courses are fun, engaging and challenging but immensely rewarding to those who attend.
  • Glencoe is a beautiful place to come and visit and to immerse yourself in its wilderness is a fantastic experience.
  • Services offered are for all age ranges and abilities.

It was Important to establish the facts around the business; what web based presence do they have, who are their potential clients, where do they come from, etc so to target the images towards them specifically. There’s no point taking high contrast images of men running in austere conditions if you want to entice first time female runners out on the mountains who may not like the experience. They need to feel like they’re going to enjoy the experience, but you can’t lie about it either. Brand loyalty comes from being honest to your clients. If they go expecting A and you give them Z they’ll not trust your advertising in the future and that could damage any future relationship the company may have.

Viewing their website and social media channels showed there were a few key themes: The company operates (predominately) from Glencoe; their staff are friendly and knowledgable; all female and trustworthy; their courses and experiences cater for all ages and abilities. These became the framework for the images we would take.

Once we’d agreed on a shot list and a date set we were all set to go. Meeting for the first time in a wonderful coffee shop in Ballachulish called 'Crafts and Things' I was introduced to Nancy Kennedy (Girls On Hills co director) and two of their guides who were available for the shoot. There was an aspiration to have all staff there for the day but the stars did not align and it wasn’t meant to be.

The weather for the few hours we had was going to cause some complications as horizontal snow didn’t paint the picture we wanted for most of the shots on the shot list. Dodging the snow became quite fun and we even deployed the emergency shelter at one point rather than run back to the van with all our kit.

Despite only having 3-4 hours together, we still went to three different locations in Glencoe which culminated in approximately 80 images ranging from close up branding shots to vast panoramics of Glencoe itself. Here are a selection of the finished images which Girls On Hills are now able to use for their marketing and promotional online and print activities.


Shoot Gallery

Girls on Hills Ltd had a brilliant photo-shoot with Xtreme Exposures. Their photographer, Al, was very professional and committed to getting great shots, even in the face of challenging weather conditions. He was quick to get shots set-up and understood immediately what we, as a brand, wanted to get out of the experience. We’re thrilled with the results and will definitely be back for more
Keri Wallace
CEO

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