Gifted merchandise is so 2011.
Well, sort of. Showcasing a gifted item on your blog is a key part of starting to build relationships with brands. Not only does it show that brand how your style mixes with theirs and tests your reach as a marketing ambassador – but it also sets an example for other brands that might want to work with you in the future. This is how many of the top style bloggers we look up to and check in on these days built up their value.
I've noticed more and more lately though, that bloggers and brands are taking their relationships far beyond a “c/o” mention in a post or sidebar advertising. From cross-platform contests to styling gigs to photography adventures halfway across the globe – brands are tapping bloggers for in-depth projects that pair their vision with a blogger's taste and sensibilities.
So how do these projects come about? Some bloggers work through agencies and third parties to secure larger projects, and some are done independently. Either way, securing a more fulfilling and collaborative project is an amazing way to get your blog in front of a new audience, and show a facet of your style while marketing yourself at the same time – when it's done right.
Here are 4 In-Depth Blogger + Brand Projects That Got It Right:
This project was a series of short videos featuring Diane von Furstenberg apparel and shoes, stylist and television personality Brad Goreski and four style bloggers. Each blogger styled a look around a pair of DvF shoes, and explained how it worked with their personal style, while Brad talked a bit about how each look fit with current trends. This video series allowed each of the bloggers to maintain their style identity (and really let it shine) while working with a brand. Using a platform like video also allowed the project to be shared across media channels that both brand fans and blog readers could easily access and share: YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and each home site.
Much of the content for this collaboration lived on the Refinery29 site, but the bloggers were challenged to create images illustrating different ideas on the platform of Instagram. Each blogger styled a pair of Nine West sneakers (a new venture for them) into a few different looks, and Refinery29 asked their readers to vote on a winner. A contest hosted on a 3rd party site also encourages cross-platform promotion and give the brand and bloggers exposure to the Refinery29 readers, which they may not have gotten otherwise. Each blogger had creative freedom in how they styled the pieces as well as how they photographed them, and with a prize at stake, were encouraged to promote their participation through their blogs and social media.
Puma Ocean Racing & 10 Tumblr Bloggers and Instagram Users
Bloggers: From Me To You (and 9 Others)
This project was an interesting one, because it didn't focus so much on fashion, or on the brand, Puma, but on each individual's photographic perspective. Most notably for our community, Tumblr blogger and photographer Jamie Beck of From Me To You posted pages and pages of images from her stay in Abu Dhabi, both of the race and of her cultural and sartorial experiences. The bloggers and Instagram users were flown across the world to cover the event for a week – however they chose, which is really the ultimate dream when working with a brand. Jamie shared her perspective through cinemagraphs, scenic landscapes and outfit photos as well – which coincides perfectly with her usual content, with an exotic and brand-focused twist.
Kooba's 5 Looks 1 Bag Series
Let's be honest, we're not all all-star photographers with the klout of Jamie Beck, so an all expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi may not be in the cards just yet. A project like Kooba‘s 5 Looks 1 Bag series is a great example of a collaborative effort that is attainable for a much broader range of bloggers. It's also an idea that really makes sense for their brand: selling bags is about inspiring customers to see how they can work in their wardrobe. For bloggers, it's all about linking up with a brand that really suits your style. I was lucky enough to participate in this series, and I accepted Kooba's proposal because I actually love their bags, and had long before they reached out to me. Each blogger could choose the bag that best suited their taste, and style it up however they liked. I was able to showcase each look with a post on my blog, and garnered new traffic from Kooba's Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook pages as well.
What do you think matters most when working with brands? Share from your personal experience or tell us what collaborations you have enjoyed on other blogs in the comments.