Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Kate Spade Became an Iconic Brand Worth $3.1 Billion

Forbes notes that Kate Spade was worth $3.1 billion last 2016.

Its an amazing feat given that the brand is relatively young.

Fashion designer and businesswoman Kate Spade launched her own line of eponymous handbags last 1993. Since then, the company has successfully created retail outlets around the world.

How did Kate Spade quickly become a recognizable fashion brand? In part, through developing a consistent voice and brand persona:

1. Developed an authentic brand persona

What makes Kate Spade stand out from other brands is the effort that it puts in developing an authentic persona. The Kate Spade girl leads a life filled with travel, arts and books. She’s independent, witty, playful and strong, so everything the brand puts out is consistent with this personality.

While a lot of brands cater to interesting women, the brand is unbelievably calculated in developing its own unique voice.

“Our story lives in the tradition of all of the spirited, madcap heroines who have come to New York City and made it both the inspiration for and the location of their story,” says Kristen Naiman, Kate Spade’s Vice President of Brand Creative in an interview. “So if you think of the heritage of Sex and the CityBreakfast at Tiffany’s, Nora Ephron, and Joan Didion, it’s all of those women that come to New York looking for that story, and it’s the adventures that they have along the way that truly comprise it. We’re in the business of telling that story: the imperfect journey, and the perfect dream.”

This narrative is subjective to one’s own interpretation, but essentially the brand caters to women who seek adventures. So, whenever it creates products and creates marketing campaigns, it always keeps in mind the idea of a Kate Spade woman.

2. #Missadventure – created shoppable video series

Fashion films are the new retail marketing trend in the industry. Rather than traditional print ads and promotional materials, brands create mini shoppable movies, to encourage customers to shop for its products.

Enter Kate  Spade’s #Missadventure series. The first season consists of a four-part series, starring Anna Kendrick. In the first video, she goes home after a day filled with shopping, only to find out she’s locked out of her apartment. To pass the time, she calls her friends and tries out the items she bought. By the end of the video, she combines the clothes she bought to form a rope that can pull the ladder down and help her enter her apartment.

In the next video, she arrives at the iconic Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles and is mistaken as the meditation yoga instructor. Unable to explain the misunderstanding, she wings it and helps a woman meditate.

“Interesting women leading interesting lives are at the core of our campaigns and filmed content, including our #Missadventure video series starring Anna Kendrick,” says Mary Beech, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Kate Spade & Company in an interview. “We’ve built a clear and distinct brand voice and we always think about the ideal solution — digital or otherwise — that fits our unique brand voice and immerses our customers in the world of Kate Spade New York.”

In addition, Kate Spade products in the videos are curated on the website.

While it may be costly to make these short films, the publicity is worth it. In fact, the four videos in its first season garnered  7.5 million views.

3. Uses Thematic Curation in Its Content Strategy

Kate Spade has maintained its brand voice across a variety of social media platforms.

It has thematic boards on holiday gift guides, handbags, wedding parties and colors on Pinterest, which is perhaps the most well-suited platform to post its photogenic products and fashion inspiration.

The Kate Spade Twitter has captions that maintain a personal voice, without seeming to be an actual individual. For instance, Kate Spade tweets about its latest products and campaigns, but the voice of the brand is upheld.

And, of course, Kate Spade’s Instagram is decked out in photos that match the brand’s aesthetic, as well as inspirational quotes for its target customers. In addition, its messages seem to be natural and genuine, instead of a profit-oriented PR copy.

With this strategy, consumers can not only get updates on new products and inspirations of the brand; but they also have a consistent branded experience across social media.

4. Creates Timeless Fashion Products  That Can Be Worn on a Daily Basis

Kate Spade’s runway shows standout because of its cheerful atmosphere. Its models wear kitchy handbags, and fashionable ensembles that can be worn in a day-to-day basis. The outfits are fun, feminine and flirty; and their style seems like a classic.

“Kate Spade is one of the few shows that you can come to and actually feel like, ‘Oh, I maybe can wear that as a regular human being!'” Jessica Morgan, Fug Girl #2, in an interview with Racked. “It feels more relatable to my life than anything else I see on the runway. Like, I love that coat,” she said, pointing to a white tailored jacket with big black buttons, accented with a giant bow. “I would take that off of her and bring it home if I could.”

Another great thing about Kate Spade is that its not just for young adults in New York. There are styles for working women, suburban housewives and party girls; as well as teenagers and moms.

It caters to the style of the Kate Spade woman, so it’ll always sell classy handbags and colorful kitten heels. It’ll jump on new fashion trends too, but only if it fits the quirky style of its brand.

While its products are a bit pricy—bags run from $300 to $400 and heels are priced around $200—its price points are significantly cheaper than luxury brands. This means that for shoppers who can’t quite afford Gucci or Chanel, Kate Spade is a great alternative.

5. Consistently Creates Ads with Pops of Color

The Kate Spade woman loves vibrant prints and patterns. This is why its campaign throughout the years echo this whimsical style.

Its ads feature women leading busy lives filled with adventure, which represent what a Kate Spade woman is.

By consistently maintaining its visual aesthetics and brand identity, Kate Spade is a recognizable stand out  from the crowd.

Here’s a recap of what we’ve learned from Kate Spade’s success:

  • create ads with a consistent aesthetic
  • develop a unique brand persona
  • align social media campaigns with the brand’s voice and persona
  • create shoppable videos
  • create timeless and relatable products

Monique Danao

Monique Danao is a writer and content creator with an expertise in marketing and SEO. When she's not writing, you'll find her enjoying funky food, listening to music and marketing startups.