The 10 Best Fashion, Luxury & Interior Brand Blogs of 2011 & 2012
For our annual review of brand blogs, this year, we’ve expanded past fashion to include our favorite luxury and home interior and design blogs. We hope you enjoy the list.
Hermès Paris Mon Ami
For a luxury brand attempting to make the most of digital, I don’t think anyone gives Hermès enough credit. Since 2010, the brand that has said it will never give way to “masstige” has been applying that principle to its online marketing, leveraging video, street style photography, emerging online fashion influencers and customer content.
The content, which includes contests and videos, is simple and straightforward. Uploading personal photos gets you a chance to be featured in the brand’s highly-stylized photos and videos, a tactic all luxury brands that are afraid of digital should emulate.
The brand has hosted in-store events where they show customers how scarves are made and how to wear products, photographing the event for attendees. The brand also hosted events close to its heritage, such as the Saut Hermès au Grand Palais Horse Show Competition. Oh how grand it would be to attend.
While these efforts don’t carry the buzz factor that LVMH and Burberry do, I don’t think they’re intended to and I’m glad to see they don’t. Hermes is focused on the quality of their product and the experience of their customer, not the buzz of the Internet. To them, their customers are their influencers, every last one of them. My only request as a customer and brand admirer would be to respond to a post once in a while on Facebook, thus completing my customer experience and affirming that I’m important to you.
west elm’s Front & Main
This year, we’re simply smitten with west elm’s blog, Front & Main. It tops our list of best brand blogs this year because the furniture and interiors retailer has shown us everything from Naomi Stein’s pink parsons desk feature to 20×200 collaboration; from Etsy discoveries to behind the scenes in Brooklyn. We are impressed how west elm has merged DIY, handmade accessories, vintage finds, amazing collaborations with bloggers and localized community events into a place we as customers–and marketers–constantly seek ideas and inspiration.
Desigual – Atypical Spanish Wear Since 1984
The world of Desigual is something of dreams. From the fantastic, over-the-top Cirque Du Soliel and Christian LaCroix collections that debuted at WWDMAGIC this past year to the provocative half naked adventures with customers around the world, this brand continuously takes our breath away with its emmersive, real-world events. We love to watch how they unfold on video when we’re not able to be there in person. As marketers, we respect that Desigual is a brand that knows itself and loves showing it online and offline. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, thus making the brand even more desireable. We can relate, and want to be a part of their culture.
Target’s On The Dot Tumblog
When retailer Target launched its now sold-out (twice) collection with Missoni, the retailer also launched its Target Style blog on Tumblr. The content is just as delightful and very well done. Updated monthly, the blog features fashion director Nina Garcia’s must have items, clever infographics featuring the right type of winter coats for your city, photo features on what inspires the Target fashion team (that actually inspires their viewers as well) and great personal style shots from stylish customers and fashion bloggers such as Maria Elyse, Kenzie and Le Quantrelle.
As marketers, we love that the On The Dot blog is features a responsive design theme that make it mobile and tablet friendly. What a great way to leverage one of Tumblr’s key features. We also like how Target has balanced photos, written words and design elements into a monthly destination that doesn’t overwhelm us. Why update daily when you can simply create something that lasts your customers 4-8 weeks? It makes the blog utilitarian–functional in its layout with feel-good content that helps you start conversations with people in your social circles. Wait a minute? Didn’t we just describe our favorite outfit in our closet? Genius!
Land’s End – The Boat House
How many of you are fashionably out-of-the-know about Land’s End’s amazing blog The Boat House? Don’t worry, we were too, until their recent use of Pinterest for a holiday campaign called the “Land’s End Canvas.”
“Lands’ End Canvas is continuously looking for new communication channels and opportunities to foster to introduce new customers to the brand,” said Michele Casper of Land’s End in an interview with us in December. We’re smitten with the way Land’s End conveys its brand story.
We’re also giving them kudos for their Backstage partnership with LiveNation, which features concerts in Boston, Atlanta and Chicago as well as fashion films that show Land’s End is not hum-drum middle America, it’s actually on par with your favorite Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste and J. Crew style choices. If you’ve been looking for a stellar example of American heritage and how a brand can maintain its relevance in its customers’ lives, you’ve found it. Even luxury heritage brands could pull a tactic or two from this.
DKNY – Notes On A City & DKNY PR Girl
When it comes to Donna Karan, we’re torn between two loves, Notes on A City and the diary of the now well known DKNY PR Girl, Aliza Licht. DKNY is a brand that’s really come into its own this year. From blogger editorial projects and design collaborations to new technologies and platforms, DKNY is our social brand to watch in 2012. In our expert opinion, we believe we’ll be seeing a “genius” status from the venerable L2 Think Tank.
Greenhouse Design Studio
With its motto of “healthy home, happy heart,” no one but Greehouse makes us understand how the best things in life are little moments that we often take for granted. Making it easy to realize that change is good and that mom will always know best, Greehouse’s healthy home blog offers short, elegantly crafted posts that pack a big punch with questions that make us reflect on things we often take for granted. It also hosts a Greenhouse Community, a user-created, wiki-style community where you can share your knowledge, ideas, advice and showcase your projects.
Greehouse also offers something I’ve not found on any retailer’s site in the fashion, home or beauty space: a hybrid loyal/concierge service. The Green by Invitation costs $49 per year and provides premium content, free shipping on all orders and 24/7 access to their head designer for questions and help. Wow–all that for $49 per year? Sign me up.
Club Monaco Culture Club
I’ve been a fan of Club Monaco since 2007 when I made my first purchase from the store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. My find: a neutral medium brown leather satchel with brass hardware (the bag was the color of one my amazing horses) that is still used to this day (and many people mistake it for Valentino).
Since the launch of Culture Club, I’ve been watching their social marketing like a hawk (for the record, it’s still one of the best examples of branded content on the web to date). In 2009, I wrote an article for Mashable naming Culture Club one of best examples of branded content out there. Two years later, I still stand by that decision. From on-brand blogger and editorial collaborations to inspiring Facebook contests and engagement strategies, Club Monaco is showing fellow retailers and brand how it’s done when you have social channels and email marketing that must drive brick and mortar sales since you can’t get them online. It’s proof when you have stellar content, you can do anything. Now when will we see Club Monaco e-commerce?
The Museum of Useful Things
We’re often told to keep it simple. Not matter what we’re doing–marketing, working or crafting our interior spaces–we’re told to simple is better. Well, the geniuses at Museum of Useful Things think so too. While their company blog is just that, simple, the entries feature products used in innovative ways. As a horse girl, I know how to use that bridle hook featured below in my barn. But in my home, I never would have thought of putting it in the mud room to hang heavier coats. They cost like $2.00 and look like $20.00. Love it.
The amazing Madewell outpaced our love of Urban Outfitters this year. Why? Because when we attended an in-store event at South Coast plaza, they served Coke Light. Seriously, I haven’t had a Coke Light since 2007 in Italy. I asked, “where did you get this?” The amazing sales associate informed me that the caterer for the event had ties to Mexico and got it imported. Man, talk about all out! Soon after the Coke and clothing conversation, we shifted to blogging. Why? Because Madewell had a very hipster little newspaper available on the counter, and no fashionable girl ever passes up the chance to score branded content! She then let me know they had it all on their blog. Of course when I got home, I went online to inspect.
The brand’s simple Tumblr had all of their social accounts featured in a place that I could follow them, an easy way for me to subscribe to their emails and a great lifestyle playlist (indicative of brands in this target age demographic) to listen to while I went through the site. What we especially love about Madewell is its tone of voice. Not only is it consistent, but it perfectly represents what we would expect from it given our offline experience with the stores and their staff. As with Desigual, Madewell is fun and very entertaining and inviting for me as a customer. So much so that next New Year’s Eve, I’ll most likely “glitter bomb” myself.
Marketing Trend: Branded Content and Entertainment is Becoming Decentralized
Over 70% of the examples of branded content we’ve highlighted are not built on the retailer’s or brand’s website, but on other platforms that encourage content sharability (Tumblr for the most part). As I’ve said throughout the year, online social behavior is evolving and commerce is becoming not only more social, but decentralized. Building on platforms that allow the spread of content, products and video are pivotal for customer acquisition, retention and online sales in the years ahead.
Enjoy Pinterest, Tumblr, social product sites and YouTube. They’re already a critical success factor in your brand’s marketing strategy, even if you’re not using them yet.