So, you’ll be giving up North Kiteboarding. What does this mean for customers? If, for example, a customer bought a new North Kiteboarding kite in the spring?
That is all taken care off. We, that is Boards & More, work with the dealer where the customer bought his kite and will continue our cooperation with the dealer. We absolutely guarantee any warranty claims in legal periods. Even better yet, if the customer has signed up for our warranty extension program, they will receive an extra 6 months on top of the original warranty period. Additionally, we will also continue to be accommodating beyond that. As Boards & More we have a reputation for being reliable and we will continue to honour the service and warranty for any of the products we sell. And of course, as Boards & More, we also want to get our new Duotone brand up and running. We’ll do everything in our power to make our existing customers happy.
With the new brand name, is it simply a case of relabelling your existing products and now selling them under the Duotone moniker?
We’ll keep developing our products under the new brand, that’s for sure. All the engineering, the design of the kites, the entire know-how – that’s all knowledge acquired by Boards & More over the years. All of the products were developed by our employees, all of the patents are ours and all of the product names belong to Boards & More. For example, we created the Rebel and the Neo so there will still be a Rebel and a Neo available under Duotone, which will be identical in terms of flight characteristics and positioning to the Rebel or Neo of the past. We will also maintain our proven manufacturing setup to ensure that we are delivering the same superior quality to our customers.
So, next year customers will still be able to buy a Click Bar, NTT binding, Twintips with the track system or a Neo kite?
Yes, they will. Customers will get everything they’re familiar with and even a little bit extra.
All of your developers, team riders and international distributors will be staying with you?
We asked the question to everyone beforehand: Ken Winner, Ralf Grösel, Sky Solbach, all of the team riders, and everyone is on board. All of our developers and internal team have signed on for the next few years and are excited to see this come to life. Initially, many employees thought it was a joke – that we couldn’t just create an entirely new brand. However, now that we are in doing it, it is obvious, that many new possibilities show up and our employees, especially many of the younger team members, are more motivated than ever to leave their footprint.
What new freedoms are you particularly excited about with your own Duotone brand?
Sometimes a change can really inspire you. The Duotone brand belongs to us; we can shape it as we see fit. We’ll position Duotone where we think it best fits and where it might be cool for our customers. We have no connection to sailing anymore. Where you come from and what you stand for is the brand's new outlook. We can also develop Duotone in new areas, such as foiling or clothing if we so desire. Or if we want to bring surfboards to the market, that’s something we can do too. Now it's up to us what we want to pursue.
Will the launch of Duotone affect the other brands of Boards & More Group, i.e. ION, Fanatic and Arrows?
No, not at all.
You own the ION brand from which ION Club is derived. Why is the new brand not called ION Kiteboarding?
This is something that we discussed internally at length. However, we came to the conclusion that from a brand positioning perspective it is better to keep ION as an independent brand; even Cabrinha kiters or Slingshot fans can identify with ION and purchase these products. Our principle, when we created ION was not to offer any hard goods under this name, rather to create a neutral brand, which specialises in accessories – as a complement to ours as well as other hardware brands. For that reason, ION isn’t a perfect fit for our original idea of creating a new kite brand. Duotone is not a new name.
There was a snowboard brand from Boards & More with this name back in the 1990s. Why are you pulling this name out of the drawer again?
There was plenty of heated debate about the name Duotone in some forums. We think it’s very exciting because it’s a very emotional name with many meanings and interpretations. In the last two years, our kites have had this duotone effect in terms of their colour scheme; that’s how we stumbled upon it. When we were looking for a name for the new brand, we chose Duotone as the internal project name. The longer we worked with it, the more we realised that this name was a really good match for the new brand. On top of that, this name was already registered worldwide by Boards & More. And we really liked the double meaning associated with the name Duotone: Wind and water combined form a better unit, just like lightness and stability. This interaction between two factors crops up again and again in the creation of products.
And the fact that the name was associated with snowboards from the 1990s – does that bother you?
No, the 1990s was a long time ago and more importantly: Duotone was a very cool brand back then, high in quality and ahead of its time. That’s why we have few reservations.