BRAND: “Brand is something you either have in your DNA or you don’t,” Plank said. “You can be taught some of the exterior [branding] stuff, but the idea that everything matters to a brand is the most important — and nobody teaches that. Nothing should be an accident; every single thing matters, and that is the nuts and bolts of everything here.” Call it the “Cult of Kevin.” At Under Armour’s headquarters in Baltimore, the former Maryland football walk-on turned billionaire now serves as tactician, preacher, financial strategist, product designer, coach and visionary. Read More ⇢
BRAND: When you design for web, mobile and digital channels, think about leveraging imagery and content that your users can relate to: in other words, what will speak to them and drive them to further connect with your brand. At our agency, we worked with a growing lifestyle brand to select a visual style and imagery that brought out the true flavor of its products and culture: colors that invigorated the senses, and complementary visual design elements (patterns, shapes, icons, font treatments etc.). The net effect was a consistent spike in traffic after launching their new site, and a greater level of user “stickiness” on the new digital channel. Read More ⇢
ECOMMERCE: He’d sold that company, the early apparel eCommerce success story JackThreads, to an upcoming media company called Thrillist about three years earlier. The company was thriving in its new environment in New York, but back home in Columbus, Ohio, Jason started to feel like he was on the outside looking in.“I started to realize all these meetings were happening in New York, because as we became the main driver of everything in the portfolio, all the investors and everybody at Thrillist wanted to be a part of it,” Jason remembers. Read More ⇢
MEDIA: As a marketing ploy the move clearly failed. Instead of debuting a new, tech-savvy firm that would, in the words of chief digital officer Anne Vasquez, be like “having a tech startup culture meet a legacy corporate culture,” it came off as buzzword-laden and naive. The internet positively erupted with derision. Yet what I find even more disturbing than the style is the substance. The notion that you can transform a failing media company — or any company in any industry for that matter — by infusing it with data and algorithms is terribly misguided. Read More ⇢
BRAND: It’s the latest big-name luxury brand to be acquired by a major conglomerate – selling 100 percent of its shares. The previously privately owned fashion house Balmain, now belongs to Qatar-based investment group Mayhoola for Investments. Balmain’s new owner also acts as the parent company behind Italian luxury brand Valentino. Expansion of its global retail footprint and accessory range would be the main motivator behind selling the Balmain house, according to its CEO Emmanuel Diemoz. Read More ⇢
MEDIA: Publishers who’ve signed on with Medium have also signed NDAs, so the people I spoke with weren’t able to get too deep on financial topics. Overall, though, it appears that the only place Medium is taking a cut of publishers’ revenue is when those publishers run sponsored content arranged by Medium. Otherwise, Medium is covering all migration, development, and hosting costs for the publishers it accepts into its beta program, and is at least in some cases providing individualized tech support and building custom features, again free of charge. Read More ⇢
ECOMMERCE: Web applications — such as an ecommerce platform — contain business logic, which is just development jargon for programming code that describes the business, its rules, and its processes. Inside of an application there is code that lets the application run. There’s code that manages data. And there’s code that tells the application what do it with that data. That third item contains the business logic. What follows are a three examples of business logic for an ecommerce store. These are by no means the only types of business logic — each application and each company will have different business logic. Read More ⇢
ECOMMERCE: Consumer-facing drones definitely had their moment in 2015 with a crush of them appearing in the sky flowing by hobbyists’ hands. However, commercial operators have largely been stymied by the lack of regulations governing who can and can’t fly – and what they can and can’t deliver by drones as well. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration has published its first comprehensive drone regulations to date, and unfortunately for Amazon and other would-be drone shippers, that future is still some months and years away. Read More ⇢
MEDIA: In 2010, Lam was the editor in chief of Gizmodo, the Gawker Media-owned tech blog that obtained and wrote about an Apple iPhone 4, months before the company had announced the hotly anticipated gadget. He was on sabbatical when his colleagues Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz published the story, and had just finished swimming or surfing when he got a testy call from Jobs, then the CEO of Apple. Read More ⇢
ECOMMERCE: After opening its first brick-and-mortar store in London, launching a website and debuting an inaugural advertising campaign, e-commerce is a logical next step for Christopher Kane's brand. The new online platform will use digital and video content to combine "a brand experience and a commercial experience," says Christopher Kane CEO Sarah Crook. Read More ⇢
THE INFORMATION: By proposing the combination of SolarCity and Tesla, Elon Musk is doubling down on the risk inherent in both companies. He sees the deal as part of an ambitious plan to combine solar panels, batteries and electric cars into one glorious “off the grid” dream. But to make that happen, SolarCity has to reinvent its business, now focused on the mass market. Read More ⇢
ECOMMERCE: VCs are paying attention. Together, these venture-backed fashion startups have raised over $1.5B in funding across more than 130 deals. A handful of the brands including Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Stance have raised over $100M in total funding. As the graphic highlights, investor-backed startup fashion brands are attacking all parts of the wardrobe. Read More ⇢
Last Word: Not all eCommerce launches are equal
There was a great link from yesterday that inadvertently explained why some eCommerce operations perform poorly. It was the most clicked of the 12 featured links and it was written by Gina Bianchini. The difference between an army and an audience is a careful distinction that many may not understand. Even some eCommerce companies (where this matters most) fail to discern the difference. And when it comes to building community, it's the one distinction that matters.
I once read that TheWireCutter.com generated over $150M in eCommerce in 2015 with no investors. Given that this was affiliate revenue, they likely saw a net of $11-20M. They accomplished this on what seems to be very little purchased traffic (social accounts for <2.5% of their traffic and it's most Reddit). Frankly, their readership is an army. It's a readership that is built on quality and consistency and usefulness - the three basic tenets of net promoter behavior.
This is the type of audience that you build an eCommerce operation atop of, if you're a media company. If you're an eCommerce brand, this is what you want to build to sustain you and your sales through the many shifts in ad tech and consumer cycles. Take for example: Chubbies and Mizzen+Main, neither of whom rely upon sales gimmicks. Both brands launch products and when they do, those products sell out. What you want to avoid is building eCommerce on top of an audience. Audiences are fickle and they're often purchased. An army chooses to stick with you through it all.