What is the Net Brand Effect?

In a world of competing messages and shortened attention spans, it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out and win a position in the mind’s of their customers. Yet, brands who are able to do this can own their category and charge a premium for their products/services. 

That's why States of Matter developed the Net Brand Effect score. 

To calculate the NBE, we collect information that is widely accessible to any consumer and run the data through a filter of 19 criteria. The resulting score is a quantifiable metric which takes the vague concept of brand into a number which can be tracked and improved upon over time. 

Read more about our process and methodology behind the Net Brand Effect score...

Industry Overview

Overall the kids’ footwear industry is a crowded space. We identified three companies whose product and brands stood out. Each of these three companies offer shoes with great design, a commitment to quality, and a perceived audience of raving fans. As lifestyle-conscious millennial and gen-X parents go shopping for kids' shoes, these three companies will likely be at the top of their list. 

Keen Kids Footwear Brand Review
Image source: Keenfootwear.com


Established and Stagnant

A dominant player in the market since their introduction in 2003, Keen has slowly been losing market share to niche retailers. They offer a wide range of shoes for men, women and children, which has made it difficult to focus their efforts and innovate within the category. 

Plae Kids Footwear Brand Review
Image source: Plae


Up and Coming

Plae shoes is an upstart brand founded in 2013. Since it’s launch, they’ve grown almost 100% per quarter which helped them to raise an additional $7M in funding last year. They proclaim themselves to be, “The next generation of customizable kids’ shoes.”

See Kai Run Kids Shoes Review
Image source: See Kai Run

See Kai Run

On the Verge

See Kai Run is a kids’ footwear company started by a Seattle mom in 2004. They specialize in footwear that blends fun style with healthy foot development. Product placement in premium retailers such as Nordstrom has given See Kai Run market credibility. 

The Scores

Blog Nbe Kids Footwear Scorecard
Keen Kids Footwear Brand Review

Key Findings: Keen


  • Highest amount of brand awareness and recognition, including with high-profile retailers such as REI.
  • Initial branding work was obvious, and the messages of “create, play, care” offer a strong culture framework. 
  • The brand feels stable and tenured, which is an area to build upon.


  • As the only company who sells more than just kids’ shoes, Keen struggles to speak the right language for the target audience.
  • Social media accounts don’t share cohesive messaging and feel like they are managed by different teams.
  • Website is not responsive.


  • Clarify the identity of the kids’ footwear line; give this product line some undivided attention.  
  • At a minimum, simplify the website UX and make it responsive.  
  • Conduct a full competitive audit for the kids’ footwear space to identify other areas of opportunity to improve messaging, design, social media and content. 

For a complete breakdown of Keen's scores, including actionable insights from each category, download the full report.

Blog Nbe Kids Footwear Plae Description

Key Findings: Plae


  • Built into Plae’s culture is an emphasis on the power of design. This sets apart both their shoes and the other visual elements of the brand. 
  • They speak the language of the parents. It comes through in their copywriting, product features and design. 
  • A founder with a solid pedigree and compelling reason for starting the company.


  • There are missed opportunities to take the About Us story and purpose deeper. 
  • Page load time is too slow. This is most likely hurting organic search ranking. 
  • Competing messages make it hard for Plae to own one position in the consumer’s mind.


  • Plae is primed for brand strategy to refine and focus the overall brand promise and key messages for each customer segment.
  • Optimize the website for page load times and SEO best practices. 
  • Develop an influencer outreach strategy to increase  quality backlinks and number of monthly branded searches. 

For a complete breakdown of Plae's scores, including actionable insights from each category, download the full report.

See Kai Run Brand Review

Key Findings: See Kai Run


  • A heartwarming and compelling brand story.
  • Strong impression that See Kai Run knows the most about healthy foot development for kids. 
  • Strong placement in retailers such as Nordstrom. 


  • Average website design and UX, including photography, which isn’t enough in this space. 
  • Google and Bing search results were pulling from a 3rd party source, rather than from the company’s meta description.
  • Their primary point of difference isn’t given enough prominence. 


  • Give the positioning more prominence and use brand and design strategy to improve design and messaging.
  • Fix the meta description problems and enhance the UX, especially on home and product detail pages. 
  • Upgrade elements of the storytelling, including video narration, advertisements and incorporation of a higher purpose.

For a complete breakdown of See Kai Run's scores, including actionable insights from each category, download the full report.

Want Access to the Entire Kids' Footwear Report?

The full 14-page report includes a breakdown of our entire process, the complete list of scores within each category, and actionable insights for improvement from our design and brand teams. 

Download Report

Interested in having us audit your brand?

Contact us to have your company added to our Net Brand Effect queue. We analyze new categories on a monthly basis.