Not only did Kim Kardashian’s Paper magazine cover “break the Internet,” but it epitomizes how confused brands can make their message when they try too hard to keep up on social media, according to Rebecca Marstaller, director of brand strategy at Lululemon.
The cover was irreverent and had everyone talking, including brands like Budweiser, JetBlue, Kit Kat and Honda. One thing all those brands have in common is that none of them has anything to do with Kim Kardashian.
“I think my favorite is the San Diego Safari Park – how do they make the very tangential leap to be relevant?” Marstaller said. “There’s no rhyme or reason for what is going to do well, but there needs to be some rhyme or reason for why you’re going to talk about it.”
Lululemon is a public company so it’s important for the brand’s content marketing to drive the business to make its quarterly numbers while also maintaining the brand’s image. The key to doing that, like the Canadian Olympic Committe’s Derek Kent said during his keynote, is having a strong brand identity.
Last year, Jimmy Kimmel spoofed the brand’s tight pants on his talk show with a commercial for “Lululemon Pledge,” spray-on yoga pants. The next day, Lululemon jokingly featured the product on its website.
“That’s not to say that every time someone says something about your brand, you have to comment on it, but you should if it makes sense for the brand,” Marstaller said. “We’re a cheeky brand; we don’t take ourselves too seriously. You can make light of something, but if you’re going to do it, do it really quickly.
But Marstaller warns that not every opportunity is a good one.
“If Lululemon says, ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day!’ that just doesn’t feel right; this comes up every single holiday,” she added. “We know people are looking to shop [on holidays] and they’re looking to buy. There is business to be had. The question for us is, how do you make it feel brand-right?”
Despite the focus on consistency, some differentiation is necessary, says Marstaller. For instance, the brand’s online warehouse sale websites look drastically different than everything else. The idea behind this is to keep consumers from associating Lululemon with promotions.
While offering a lot of discounts would drive sales in the immediate future, if people started to expect them, that would hurt the brand in the long run. The same is true for the way the sales are promoted: mostly via email, the strongest conversion channel, instead of on social or using retargeting.
“The power of different channels is knowing how to use them for what they’re for, and not using all channels for all things,” Marstaller said. “That’s the ladder up to a big brand strategy. How can you have a Twitter strategy if you don’t have a brand strategy?”
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