Thematic Curation: A Look at Kate Spade’s Content Strategy

Live colorfully.

This is the motto Kate Spade New York has adopted in the recent past, a far cry from the black, boxy handbags that were unrelentingly ubiquitous at the turn of the millenium.

It’s a call to arms around adopting a lifestyle – one that encompasses apparel, shoes, accessories, stationery, and home decor – boldly splashed with stripes, polka dots, and traditionally feminine detailing with a modern twist.

In creating its digital presence, Kate Spade has managed to convert the je ne sais quoi of its meticulously designed physical visual merchandising (read: eye-catching store windows in SoHo and on Fifth Avenue) and products into a decidedly on-brand experience. Using its blog, which is integrated prominently into its main e-commerce site, as well as varied social media presences, the Kate Spade team has developed and maintained a voice and visual point of view that reinforce the brand while avoiding heavy-handedness.

Here’s a look at how Kate Spade’s digital team embraces some of the key best practices of digital content marketing.

Integrating Self-Promotion with Content Curation

All too often, brands fall victim to the content marketing pitfall of highlighting only their own milestones, products, and customer interactions, creating streams of content that seem stale and retrospective. Kate Spade wisely combines its own items with other delicately curated selections in order to promote its overall message. For instance, after a colorful year in 2011, Kate Spade has declared 2012 the year of the pattern. Accordingly, its 2012 spring collection relies heavily on stripes. So, it has chosen to feature stripes this month, creating content like this collage (as partially pictured above), which highlights Kate Spade items, like black pumps with striped heels, as well as non-Kate Spade items, ranging from vintage prints to a photo of Mick Jagger in a striped shirt. This makes its content feel like a standalone offering rather than a direct extension of its e-commerce site.

Maintaining Themes Across Different Platforms

When Kate Spade picks a direction, it goes with it, and all its content channels reinforce the same seasonal focus. It utilizes that same collage-like approach for its boards on Pinterest, which is perhaps the most well-suited platform for fashion brands to share its inspirations, and the pattern du jour, stripes, abounds. The Kate Spade Tumblr (also organized as a collage) takes the theme one step further, providing the shareable added bonus of downloadable iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and computer desktops in –you guessed it – stripes. And, of course, Kate Spade’s Twitter page is decked out in a striped background.

With this strategy, users have a consistent experience when visiting any digital or physical outpost of Kate Spade, deepening the connection to that season’s chosen looks.

Adding Individuality Without Compromising Brand Identity

The social media manager in charge of @katespadeny maintains a personal voice without coming across as an actual individual – a feat easier said than done in the corporate world. For instance, Kate Spade tweets frequently deal with specific events, like dining at a particular restaurant or seeing a Broadway show, but a constant and professional identity is upheld. In keeping with its highly visual brand, Instagram photos often appear frequently, but the tweeters are never the subjects of those photos.

On the blog as well, individuals play a key role, but there are no bylines or personalities associated with posts. Instead, it’s the Creative Director Deborah Lloyd or Bravo TV darling Brad Goreski (a stylist for KSNY) who get the limelight. This is an interesting approach; one that allows for a collective voice that doesn’t rely on one specific writer but avoids feeling stuffy and overly PR-spun.

Kate Spade’s offerings to the fashion and accessories world have evolved over the past decade, and the products it puts out into the marketplace reflect a clear and carefully edited focus on its audience and aesthetic. In reflecting on its online content, it’s refreshing to find the same level of finesse.

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