By Mark Welsh
If you’ve had the dubious pleasure of riding in one of NYC’s strawberry/curry/body odor-infused cabs this week you might have seen a 30-second video featuring the reigning supermodel of the world Karlie Kloss striding across the screen in a sleeveless tux and Marc Fisher boots. Karlie’s voice over (written and directed by yours truly) lets us know that she is “making her marc” by empowering young women to get excited about coding. She fixes her gaze on the camera and challenges, “how will you make your marc?” - and in less time than it takes for an (un-rigged) New York cab meter to click over, Marc Fisher the renowned but anonymous 2nd generation shoe maker became Marc Fisher, highly visible, wildly glamorous, philanatropy-driven brand.
Karlie and Marc popped up again this morning in my freshly ironed New York Times. Call me a luddite, but the hard copy catches toast crumbs better than an iphone or laptop, and when the Times is having a good print day the ads can look pretty great. See below.
SO, WHO ON EARTH IS MARC FISHER AND HOW ON EARTH DID HE NAB KARLIE KLOSS? It all began 2 years ago. Marc had been designing and manufacturing best-selling shoe collections for decades and decided he wanted to align his passion for footwear with the greater purpose of supporting real life role models who make a positive difference (Calling Karlie!) He partnered with Stacy Lastrina, the marketing consultant, shoe maven, and force of nature to help forge a new namesake brand from the loafers up. Happily Stacy and I had worked prior to this, and even more happily she called me to collaborate once more. The Marc Fisher brand guide was first on our list - as it should be. Branding genius Joanne Reeves at Brand New designed it.
MARC FISHER BRAND GUIDE: edited highlights
FAST FORWARD 18 MONTHS. Brand guide firmly in place we then devised a consumer launch campaign that conveyed Marc's unique goals and philosophy - and sold shoes. The resulting social media driven platform #Makeyourmarc recognizes the achievements of real life role models who inspire Marc and gives them financial support to continue their incredible work. It encourages people to make a positive difference by posting stories and photos of inspirational women making their ‘marc’ on Twitter and Instagram. For every photo tagged #makeyourmarc Marc Fisher donates $1 to a specific role model’s organization. For every pair of shoes purchased, he donates $20.
Or as it says much more succinctly on the fabulously written website...
In a moment of synergy hatched in brand heaven (and finessed by legions of executives, agents, and lawyers), Karlie's bigger cause and Marc’s greater purpose aligned perfectly. Marc supports the exceptional work of real life role models. And Karlie is supporting young women to get excited about coding, a field that’s notoriously dominated by guys. Earlier this year, the self-described “computer science nerd” founded Kode with Karlie, a scholarship program that empowers young women to code.
SO, BASED ON ALL THIS HOW DO YOU LAUNCH A BRAND IN 30 SECONDS (and 2 years?). If you've read this far you deserve an informed answer. And perhaps a snack and a cocktail.
1. DEVELOP A CLEAR IDENTITY AND STICK TO IT: No one loves or understands a schizophrenic brand. Develop your identity before you hang out your shingle and have it stamped, approved and signed in CEO blood.
2. TAKE GUIDANCE FROM A BRAND GUIDE: The brand guide effectively conveys who you are, what you do, and what you believe in – to everyone from management to reception. These come in all shapes and sizes and comprise everything from the brand story and positioning to preferred colors, fonts, and in Marc's case, his unbreakable design rules and regulations.
3. DEVISE A UNIQUE PLATFORM - AND STAND ON IT: Don’t even think of launching without a vibrant and authentic social media platform. The road is littered with those who tried.
4. MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTH TO HIRE KARLIE KLOSS: Buy out her burgeoning vegan cookie empire if need be. The girl is a savvy star with natural charisma and a social media following over 3 million. Plus she's smart as a whip, driven to do good (not just talk about it) and looks you right in the eye when she talks to you. Swoon. I'd vote for her for President.