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Four Unique Brands to Learn From in 2020

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Brand building is a demanding process – but it’s changing rapidly in 2020. A process previously handled entirely by the marketing team, 2020 has demanded that brands become more community-focused, even in brand communications. Still, it’s not something that can be effectively done overnight with brazen handling, it requires constant cultivating and nurturing, congruence of work, and brainstormed ideas. The key takeaway for brands: this process is iterative, and it’s happening faster than ever before this year. 

Brand success looks very different in 2020 than it did previously. While core metrics and KPI’s haven’t changed dramatically, new focuses like diversity & inclusion, coupled with varying levels of retail lockdown have transformed brand zeitgeist.  Some brands are succeeding with this balance right now. As it turns out, they can teach us a lot about flexibility, community, and creating a brand in uncertain times. 

1. Michaels Craft Stores

Michaels is a great example of a brand that successfully pivoted their marketing strategy during the uncertainty around the pandemic. The #DifferenceMakers campaign asks the Michaels’ community how they are using their creativity for good during this time, and gives participants an opportunity to win a gift card for submitting their stories. Michaels showcases these inspiring customers who are taking time out of their day to create masks, donate money, and spread joy to healthcare professionals and people in need. 

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Michaels has created a new use case for UGC and is utilizing these “Difference Makers” to inspire even more customers to get involved and support their local communities. Since the launch of their campaign, Michaels has donated $1 million worth of fabric– enough to make nearly 750,000 masks –to more than 70 organizations.

2. Radio Flyer

Radio Flyer created a #PlayingAtHome campaign for parents to showcase how they are taking this time during Covid-19 to be safe and have fun at home. For this campaign, Radio Flyer adds new content to their website every week to give parents fresh ideas and fun activities to enjoy with their family – these include tips, DIY crafts, free printables, games, scavenger hunts, and more. Parents are then encouraged to post photos of which activities they have participated in, with the hashtag #PlayingAtHome to be featured on their website.

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Staying at home with your children all day can be tough to balance especially with a full time job, but with these fun resources Radio Flyer has created, parents don’t have to feel stressed and can focus on spending quality time with their children creating memories that will last a lifetime. 

3. Revel Nail

Being community-driven in 2020 has been a huge win for brands. One brand that has excelled with community-driven marketing is Revel Nail. This “dip” nail line that is excellent at leveraging their highly engaged Facebook and Instagram communities to find and work with micro-influencers to collect carefully curated content. Revel Nail then uses that content on their homepage as an inspiration gallery, and also on their product pages for customers to see what each nail color actually looks like rather than only seeing just a swatch.

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By doing so, Revel Nail is able to power a best-in-class web experience for their passionate community of nail dip enthusiasts. This strategy makes each customer feel like an influencer by re-posting their creative nail content and having it featured in marketing initiatives while increasing online engagement even more.

4. GAP

Staying relevant with influencers and icons has yet to go out of style, but in 2020, brands are perfecting their collabs. The Gap recently announced their 10-year partnership with Kanye West. The line will be called “Yeezy Gap” and will consist of elevated basics incorporating the Yeezy design aesthetic but at a lower, more accessible price point. At the five-year point, Gap is hoping that Yeezy Gap will be generating $1 billion in annual sales. 

With The Gap focusing on rebranding themselves, it is the perfect opportunity to also rebuild their digital community separate from sister brands Banana Republic and Old Navy. The Gap needs the younger customer who cares about streetwear and who loves fashion. This will create a huge influx of UGC once launched in 2021 – faithful Yeezy fans will be chomping at the bit to be able to purchase and create content for Yeezy Gap. 

Community Content as a Direct Link Between Business and Customer

Community is the center of success in 2020, ironically, in a year hallmarked by social distancing. Customers crave the connection of their peers and stories of likeminded individuals. Brands looking to stay relevant should embrace that and power that community at scale.

This article originally appeared in the Pixlee blog and has been published here with permission.

About the author

Steve Hutt

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. In the early days of online commerce, he achieved Power Seller status at eBay, which then propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens, and eyewear retailer. After a successful exit from his startup, he embarked on his next journey into agency work in e-commerce and digital strategy.

Currently, Steve is part of the Merchant Success Team at Shopify Plus, where he is a Strategic Advisor helping brands continue to grow and scale with the Shopify Commerce Platform.

To maintain a competitive edge and life of learning mantra, Steve also hosts and produces a top-rated weekly podcast show, eCommerce Fastlane, where he interviews Shopify partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, to help Shopify brands build and scale lifetime customer loyalty.