Fashion Editor Esther Lee Leach: Community And Content Are King
Building a brand online is no easy feat. While ease of accessibility to all the elements of starting a business, such as building a website, product availability, payment gateways, etc. make it seem simple, the truth of the matter is that it’s a very crowded space, making it quite difficult be successful.
Forbes spoke with Esther Lee Leach, Editor-in-Chief of Cherry Creek Fashion Magazine, a digital brand with a big footprint in their niche, to find out what it takes to have a business idea and make it successful online.
After living in San Francisco, New York and London, Leach settled in Cherry Creek and quickly identified a gap in the market, realizing that while there were plenty of publications in the Denver market, there was a lack of diversity and representation in many of the magazines. And she wanted to change that.
“I wanted to create a digitally forward brand that focuses on the people behind the small businesses. I also wanted to show how diverse the city was,” says Leach.
“The best way to build a niche brand online is by creating a very strong community or network ‘on the ground’ around that brand. The magazine champions small businesses and inclusiveness, which are very important to communities, and support is given in return.”
The very first thing she did to start growing an audience base is hit the ground running in the community and meet everyone she could. Through meetings over coffee, and introducing herself and the brand to business owners and residents, she started to build a loyal community. “This continues to pay off today because the foundation of the brand is strong and the magazine grew a lot from word of mouth,” she adds.
Consistency And Quality Are Key
Producing content to build a business online requires consistency and quality. “Clients want to know that the information promoted by your company is worth their time to consume. When you consistently create high quality content, your brand becomes a trusted source for your industry. Always stick to your promised timeline as well. If your brand promotes monthly content, then ensure that it is published every month. Clients will quickly lose trust in a brand if deadlines are missed,” advises Leach.
Collaborate With Industry Peers
Traditionally, partnering with competitors wasn’t something companies did. However today, it’s a strategy that is implemented often. There is a mutual benefit to reaching other company’s consumers, email lists, or even team members. Cross promoting and exposing your brand to potential new customers is always a good thing, even if that is through collaborations with a competitor.
There’s many examples of these partnerships successfully working out in the past. Ford and Toyota jointly designed new hybrid vehicles, allowing the companies to offer hybrid trucks and SUVs earlier than if they would have worked separately. Apple allowed the Amazon Kindle app on their devices, providing iPad users with more extensive content while giving Amazon access to a wider market.
“When producing content, find ways to include others in your industry in creating stories that help promote both of your brands. Joining forces with others increases your brand’s visibility and introduces a new audience to your business. Collaboration also lowers the cost significantly for content creation for all parties involved,” says Leach.
Stay True To Your Brand
Branding isn’t simply just the look and feel of your brand, it serves a much greater purpose than being aesthetically pleasing. Branding helps build awareness with consumers so they can easily recognize your brand.
“I love creating storyboards with my brand’s visual language and creating key words that describe my brand’s story. When creating content, it’s a great idea to refer back to these to ensure that you are consistent with brand messaging and image. Customers like having clear cut messages from brands so that they know what to expect,” says Leach.
The delivery of brand messaging in line with brand identity, values, and strategy is what gives customer’s confidence in what the brand is and whether that resonates with them. This is why company tools, such as a brand book or style guide, are critical to ensure the entire team understands what the branding standards are.
Consistent messaging, design, and tone results in brand recognition, which leads to brand loyalty.
Photo Source: Esther Lee Leach