Every brandscape exhibits a different dynamic between brands, talent and publishers. This is a reflection of the individual values each brings to the table. One very interesting feature of how the web works is that you can actually play around with a brandscape dynamic and see how it might work before investing in it. You can try things on a small scale and when you find the right formula grow them bigger.
However, not every opportunity is right for every brand.
Last year both the fashion and sneaker community were all abuzz with the beautiful collaboration between interior designer and celebrity stylist Robert Verdi and Vans Vault, the premium imprint of the classic sneaker brand. Vans created beautiful slip-ons based on the designs of his vintage Hermés scarves. You can browse through them on Flickr.
There’s clearly interest in the Vans
As I started to research these beautiful sneakers, I quickly found that there was no shortage of links. There were many fashion and sneaker blogs that were clearly excited about this small run of shoes.
And their audiences were very engaged. I found lots of comments where people were just super excited. For example on Honestly … WTF I saw the following comment:
The Hermés Vans showcase the unique values perfectly.
When partnering with other brands, you want everybody to shine individually and together. With these fashion sneakers, everyone’s truest value is on display and yet they all blend together.
Even though Vans are for the proletariat and Hermés extremely exclusive, it works. This is what design blog KNSTRCT has to say about it:
The rubber of the shoes, and the silk of the scarves, are the two materials in which society identifies these brands to be. Though Hermés and Vans are from opposite worlds, they both found their identity, and stayed true to it!
Robert Verdi is the perfect talent to pull it all together. He blends both worlds seamlessly, and is a passionate advocate for both. And he adds a sense of authority to the connection when he puts his seal of approval on the product.
Follow the great ideas, even when they pull you out of your comfort zone.
So many brands are struggling to find the same kind of market penetration they were accustomed to in the old days. It’s not as easy as just plopping your product in front of an audience and waiting for sales to happen.
The idea is to find the right audiences for your brand and connect to them. Sometimes those audiences are going to be interested in another brand or in something you’d never associate with your brand.
But when there’s a great idea that helps you reach that audience, why not go after it? Especially when the idea has proven itself in the great laboratory of the internet.
The hooks that get and keep people’s attention online are a form of meme that takes on a life of its own. It’s usually a shame to let one go to waste.
The Twist: Why this is wrong for Hermés
As awesome as this combination is, and as excited as the blogosphere and fashion world is about it, it makes no sense for Hermés to get involved. Why? Because it’s not the right audience.
The Hermés audience is the wealthy of the wealthy. Hermés doesn’t need this kind of combination to make their brand work. Their audience takes no notice of such things.
However, Hermés should pay attention to this kind of action online. They should take stock in the possibilities that the web offers in its infinite playground. Even if this brandscape isn’t right for them, it’s an interesting thought experiment that should open up new ideas and conceptions for marketing to their elite audience.
That audience is also online, and Hermés would do well to be thinking of ways to extend and enable their incredible word-of-mouth business to online channels.