In just a couple of years Duke & Dexter have developed a huge brand presence, with some of the biggest celebrity names in the world wearing your products. If you had to attribute your success to just one factor, what would that be?
It would be the product. We have had great success across digital channels, particularly Instagram, but ultimately all these channels allow you to do is communicate the things you are actually creating, so the product must be right first.
Doing one thing incredibly well is the formula to success for a lot of brands like ours. There is a tendency for brands to want to diversify and focus more on lifestyle, but if you do that too early then you risk alienating the very people that made you successful in the first place. I think that if you asked our customers what they had bought into, they would say a loafer brand. If we started trying to spread that relationship across other product ranges, I think they would very quickly become disengaged. Having just one product also helps us to get into large distributors, as it’s easy for them to understand exactly who we are and to judge our success. Either our loafers sell well for them or they don’t!
There may come a time where we decide to diversify but for now we are finding that doing one thing better than anyone else is enabling us to build a strong brand identity among both our target audience and distributors.
If you had to focus on one marketing channel moving forwards, what would it be?
Instagram. Without a shadow of a doubt. It’s got 500 million daily users, and is on track to be adopted by half of all social media users in the next two years. Then there’s the layout. Much of generating brand awareness comes down to the use of stunning imagery, and the Instagram experience has a huge visual emphasis. If you’re investing in a beautiful product, then there is no better platform for showcasing it. There’s also the way that people engage with the content. Whereas Facebook has been designed primarily for networking with friends and family, Instagram has a more linear structure, which means that if you can create content that your audience wants to engage with, you will achieve significant organic exposure on their page.
However, while Instagram may be a remarkable feat of engineering, it’s still up to you to make the most of it!
So what are some of the tips you would offer to a business looking to capitalise on Instagram?
1. Set your expectations appropriately
First of all, you must understand the main purpose of instagram. While it can directly drive sales, it is primarily there to expand your brand awareness and build relationships with your audience. If you only judge the value of instagram in direct sales, then you may find it difficult to justify the time and effort required. You need to be measuring it primarily in terms of reach and engagement. Trust me, over time you will find that this interaction is forming a significant part of the overall user journey.
2. Mix up your content
A lot of brands have very tightly defined themes. I understand the logic – they want to protect their brand identity – but the trouble is that if people are constantly checking your page then they don’t always want to see the same thing. Yes, it all needs to connect back to the core values of the brand, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different forms of content!
3. Get your audience involved
The best content you will ever have comes directly from your target audience. We are always encouraging our customers to post pictures of themselves with their Duke & Dexters, even though that means losing some of the creative control.
Tell the story of your product
Due to the visual nature of Instagram, it’s fantastic at communicating the story behind each product. We use it to share moments from our travels where we collect global inspiration from colours, textures, prints and motifs. This allows customers to follow the journey, from where the ideas start right through to the finished product being handmade in Sheffield.
For any business creating a physical product, this is a brilliantly engaging way to ensure the audience understands the history of each item and the care that goes into creating it.
4. Engage influencers
One of our first major breaks was when Eddie Redmayne wore a pair personally monogrammed of Duke & Dexters to the 2015 Oscars. Since then we’ve had countless celebrities and social media influencers wearing them, but this doesn’t happen by accident.
Early on you need to identify celebrities, influencers and affiliates that are aligned to your brand, and see what you can do for them so that they not only provide endorsement to your brand but also share your content with their audience. Needless to say that this is made a lot easier by getting the product right in the first place!