Creating a Digital Flagship

Nov 3, 2011

Roeland de Jong

As a Creative Director for Digital Media Projects, I feel closely related to the subject of Tony King’s presentation, which kicked off the Fashion Forward Digital Conference. In order to stay on the edge of innovation and develop the ability to spot new opportunities derived from technological evolution, it is of paramount importance to continuously explore the digital landscape of our beautiful Fashion and Luxury industry. Examples or case studies if you like, become sources of inspiration that help us create and, thus, should constantly be discovered.

Tip from the editor: check www.thefwa.com for your daily dose of inspiration.

King outlined a few major trends in the digital space and stressed some key factors of successful digital media initiatives.

From Selling to Telling:

As the functional approach to e-commerce becomes obsolete and more ‘people’ demand brand encounters throughout their online shopping experience, King described how we should move from merely selling to telling. Four out of five brands in our industry have e-commerce functionality. Their next challenge is to tell their brand story in a way that fits the digital platform, attracts traffic, creates the experience users seek, and always leads to ‘shop’.

Commerce + Content:

Coqsportif: Site has changed since

Tory Burch: http://www.toryburch.com/

One of the first brands to take content seriously by hiring an editor in chief.

Mr. Porter: http://www.mrporter.com/

Contextualizing the product and the brand’s lifestyle

Geolocation:

With the emergence of the mobile platform, geolocation becomes a true focus in many digital initiatives. Scott Forshay from Morpheus Media also touched upon the subject when referencing the consumer as a moving target and mentioned mobile as a bridge to multi-channel strategies.

Also in the digital flagships of today’s leading brands we find neat functionality to mirror the context of our user. Examples of Burberry and Louis Vuitton showcase how, for example, we can recognize day- or nighttime and show backgrounds that reflect this user’s context. Especially for brands who operate intercontinentally it is important to adapt locally, which we can even achieve in the simplest things.

Social Shopping:

Turning the web into a true social platform is today’s major trend. It’s being driven by companies such as

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Lyst, and many more. But are we dependent on these platforms to create an online social experience for our brand’s followers? King’s examples clearly show the answer to that question is no. Socializing your digital initiatives goes beyond integrating Facebook and Twitter functionality. It implies rethinking your strategy and creating websites that show users that they are not alone, but are actually a part of a community in exploring the unique story of your brand.

J Brand: http://jworld.jbrandjeans.com/

Neat technology where the size of images and posts depend on the popularity of that item amongst users.

Uniqlooks: http://uniqlooks.uniqlo.com/

While presenting Uniqlooks, King briefly touched upon a subject which would have taken hours to fully explain, Gamification. Facebook and Apple’s #1 apps are (social) games. People love games. And in order to create full engagement with our digital channels, we might want to look into adding ‘gamification’ to the mix.

The Moving Image:

Video is clearly taking over. It is integral for brands and producers to figure out efficient ways of creating rich media. My personal opinion is that the production of video content doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, as long as there is a strong creative art direction that fits the brand and its purpose. However, I also believe that brands are going to have a hard time settling with ‘cheaper’ productions, as in the luxury industry higher price points are typically an indicator of quality. Brands should slowly start to recognize that inexpensive options don’t necessarily mean poorer quality (The Look Now). The power of rich media content subsequently lies in leveraging video for e-commerce purposes to drive sales: think ROI.

Patrick Ervell: http://www.patrikervell.com/

Nike Jumpman 23: http//www.jumpman23.com/

Bally: http://www.bally.com/

Burberry Product Video: http://us.burberry.com/store/

Oki-Ni: http://www.oki-ni.com/page/spring-summer-2011

HTML5

HTML5 is out there. With increased browser compatibility (web browsers supporting HTML5 scripting) we enter an era of new possibilities. (For a more extensive article on new technologies, click here). King perfectly illustrates some of the powers of HTML5 with strong examples of Reactive Page Builds (© Tony King):

VW Beetle: http://www.beetle.de/full/

Nike Better World http://www.nikebetterworld.com/

Interview Magazine http://www.interviewmagazine.com/

For a more extensive article on HTML5, click here (link to previous HTML5 article).

Virtual Retail

Brands’ attempts to recreate retail experiences virtually result in top notch 3D environments, while other projects seem totally off-brand:

Zegna: http://www.zegnainstore.com/

Marc Jacobs: http://www.marcjacobs.com

I personally believe digitalization of retail needs a different approach. We have already encountered a wave in fashion website designs extensively mimicking the art direction of beloved fashion magazines. This eventually made us crave new design directions fitted for the digital experience.

New technological improvements allow us to create more engaging brand experiences online. Whether experience means social shopping, location based services, rich media and video content, or utilizing the power of HTML5, they all provide ways to connect with customers. However, I do want to highlight that luxury brands market to the affluent, a target group of which the majority is of an older age, and doesn’t necessarily understand how to use advanced websites.

King anticipated a clever question of similar nature, and noted that luxury brands should always hold on to an easier-to-use application that lives parallel to innovative projects. However, it is essential for luxury brands (as Bergdorf Goodman’s Cannon Hodge confirmed) to reinvent themselves and their image in the eyes of a new and younger generation demanding much more from a website than a few blog posts and dry e-commerce functionality. Strategically, I believe both target groups can’t be served with a single platform. Assess your current digital tools from flagship to social media and define the engagement levels for both target demographics on these platforms. That way, you can start thinking of a strategy to effectively channel your content to both equally important groups of clientele: the ones that pay your bills today and the ones that will pay your bills tomorrow.

Thanks, Tony. I truly enjoyed your very visual presentation and look forward to continuing the conversation.

 

Photo Credits: Tony King photographed by Amy Seder at FashionForward