Lustable, Paypal, and the polyfaceted brand: why brands need to evolve a diversity of identities for a diversity of platforms

Lustable_Passport

yesterday saw the birth of Lustable – a site designed to be the ultimate companion for online shoppers.  partnering with five of Australia’s most highly regarded fashion and design bloggers, the site aims to be a living breathing online shopping resource profiling the web’s best kept fashion secrets and is designed to be the ultimate companion for online shoppers.

describing the site, Adrian Christie of PayPal Australia commented that “Lustable celebrates the world of online fashion, covering everything from up-and-coming young designers, to fashion sites that offer great value – like free shipping and seasonal sales”.

I should say at this point that I'm breaking my first and most important rule of blogging in writing this post.  I am for the first time writing a post about a client of an agency at which I currently work.  I'm breaking the rule because Lustable makes a very valuable and necessary point about the future of brands, and specifically the diversification of the identity of brands…

there are examples aplenty of the diversificaton of brands, the goal being to grow and engage with new audiences – some of these are very tight (think UK telco O2's creation of the The O2; an engagement space with an identical name to that of it's parent brand) … but increasingly, brand extensions are differentiating from their parent companies.  so diverse that they become wholly new offspring of their parent brands, with their own identities and behaviours and affiliations.

all of which begs the question… why does Lustable exist?  why has PayPal – which is an established and trusted brand in its own right – invested the time and effort to create a whole new and differentiated brand?  what would be so wrong with paypalfashion.com.au?  it seems rather counter-intuitive to create and invest in a brand that's not your own.  a worst case scenario exists in which that investment delivers no payback to the parent's brand ie the strategy is actively mitigating ROMI.

the reason Lustable exists, as I see it (I wasn't involved in planning it's inception) is for the simple reason that it needs to exist.  the opportunity to aggregate and stimulate a community of online shoppers is, for obvious reasons, high up on the agenda for a brand like PayPal; but PayPal isn't necessarily in a position to aggregate and stimulate an audience around fashion.

it would, for a host of reasons, be a leap too far.  much better to reach out to existing experts in the field of online fashion shopping.  much better to amplify their voices.  much better to invest in conversations that they will have with existing and new followers of their sites and online spaces.

Lustable can aggregate an online fashion community in a way that PayPal couldn't.  it can have credible and transparent conversations, and stimulate that community, in a way that PayPal couldn't.  in this regard Lustable is a brand intermediary – a site designed to reach out to and engage with an audience more efficiently and effectively that PayPal ever could.

is it a risk?  yes.  but the greater risk is choosing to either not engage with an audience or engaging with an audience in a sub-optimal and ultimately inefficient way.

what Lustable is evidence of is a direction of travel for brands into polyfaceted creatures.  as platforms for engagement (a word I choose very deliberately over reach) proliferate, the ability of brands to spread themselves ever thinner becomes more difficult and tenuous.  think about the number of successful branded TV channels?  OK … think about any successful branded TV channel?  the reason it's hard is that brands don't necessarily stretch that far – multiple facets are required and called for.

all of which of course requires new and emerging specialisms.  Lustable was created and deployed by social media agency We Are Social* – who's expertise in this space was necessary to ensure that the project was developed and implemented as effectively as possible.  as brands become polyfaceted so too do the specialists and skills that marketing folk need to surround themselves with…

all of which begs another question – who is the brand guardian?  fortunately that's easy … people are, of course.  people who use PayPal, and now people who engage with Lustable.  Lustable creates new associations and connections between people, and a brand that was brave and sensible enough to give birth to a wholly different creature.  a brand brave and sensible enough to understand that PayPal and Lustable are greater than the sum of their respective parts.

disclaimer: PayPal is a client at PHD Australia, where I work.  I was not involved in any of the discussions or planning that led to the execution of Lustable.  * PHD Australia shares offices and the more than occasional glass of wine with We Are Social, who have developed the Lustable strategy and concept for PayPal.

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