Be true to your voice
Invest in your brand
Make something the world needs
That’s how you create a brand that stands out from the pack. Or so says, Bradford Shellhammer, Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer at Fab.com. However, after Fab.com’s rocket launch success, we think most would agree Bradford knows just a little something about launching a brand that gets noticed. Fab.com certainly has.
To many, Fab.com redefined social commerce by tapping into our social voyeurism and allowing us to know not only what our friends’ like, but what they were buying. In doing so, Fab.com grew a brand known for both its social footprint and for taunting us with fun, innovative designs that we share without ever being asked.
How did Fab.com change the rules of social business? How does social media and content marketing fit inside the company’s master plan? And, perhaps most exciting, what’s next? We asked Bradford. Hear what he had to say.
1. Unlike Facebook and Pinterest, Fab lets us buy the things our friend’s fav and like. You changed social commerce by tapping into social voyeurism and friend-to-friend sharing in a capacity other sites haven’t mastered. Did you anticipate the profound effect the Social Feed and social core would have on sales?
We always knew that we’d be successful if people loved our products and then told their friends. So that’s our goal: to find special, fun, unique products that elicit emotional reactions. If we get that right, people excitedly tell their friends. It’s amazing to see how often people share the things in life that make them happy.
2. Even at the time of the initial rebrand you were playing in a crowded space with tons of competitors. Knowing that, what steps did you take to make Fab stand out and establish a clear brand? What was your goal and what advice would you give to businesses looking to do the same?
From day one we decided to have a personality, which is our brand. It’s bold, in your face, unapologetically inclusive and fun. We’re modern and an alternative to the sameness of the world. Many said in early days that’s too niche, but we think not. Optimism is powerful. Telling designers’ stories is a powerful tactic. And doing good things with good people is powerful. So my advice: be true to your voice, invest in your brand, and make something the world needs.
3. Fab grew fast. What was your strategy and what advice would you give to other online communities looking to get those initial pivotal and influential members? How did you get the site off the ground?
We invested time and effort in marketing Fab in the early days to two key groups: the tech community and the design community, both worlds that trumpet innovation. We got them excited and it grew from there. Those early customers remain loyal.
4. Now that you’re larger, what does that mean for the future of Fab? Will the approach change?
I think the big approach is two-parts: We’re going to work with some of the 15,000 designers we’ve been lucky enough to work with and we’re going to create exclusive Fab products with them. That’s exciting. We’re also going through an internal focus on the customer experience. Moving fast and growing were past focuses. Now we’re looking at one thing: our customer experience from the site function to the box experience to the exchange policies. We’re committing to being the best in the world. And being the best means being the best for our customers. So that will continue to evolve.
5. What effect has mobile and the Fab mobile app had on sales and customer engagement? I can’t be the only one who finds the mobile app completely addicting.
You’re not! Up to 40% of our sales occur on mobile. People don’t sit at desks like they used to, they don’t shop in stores like they used to. We live, shop, share, communicate on the go. We live on our phones and Fab’s customers, younger, mobile, are mobile-first. As a result, we design our experience to suit mobile users. Just wait, it’s going to get even more addictive!
6. The Ten publication included with orders – I spent nearly a half hour reading and consuming mine and found at least two new products I wanted to buy (the Grady’s Cold Brew? Hello!). I love the storytelling approach. How did that come about? How else is the brand using content marketing?
It was our gift to our designers. Initially Ten was made for them: as a thank you. We collected stories we thought would inspire other designers: about production, scaling your business, tips, etc. What we created though was so great we knew our customers would love it too, so we sent it to many of them. There’s another issue about to launch, and it’s a completely different format. I want to have Ten be different with each issue … not just a magazine. The next issue is a book of ten postcards, functional, yet beautiful.
Fab is all about content. One secret I’ll let you in on: we’re starting to make videos, so that’s coming!
7. Videos! A content model after Overit’s own heart. 😉 What do you think makes a product successful on Fab? What should business owners and designers should take from that?
A product is successful if it solves a problem, elicits emotions, and has a fair price. Those three things combined make a hit. It’s simple, yet rather hard!
8. Okay, crunch time. You can only add one more product to the site: Do you pick the product that consumers may buy but won’t share, or the product they’ll share but won’t buy? Why?
That’s easy: the one they’ll share but not buy. We’re in the inspiration business, the expression business. If we get our customers to trust us, to love us, sales will come. Sales of uninspired, boring goods … may be good today. But we’re building a business to last. We’re building a brand. It’s not about sales always, it’s about trust.
9. What’s hanging on your current inspirational wall (real or imaginary)?
Hay furniture and catalog images. I adore every single thing in their collection. Pictures of designs from Note Design Studio and Form Us With Love, two studios from Sweden I am loving. And pictures of Pharell. I had dinner with him in Berlin last week and I was really inspired by his personal style. Oh, and pictures of the men’s clothing line Cuckoo’s Nest. Their bird and animal prints I am REALLY in love with right now.
Thanks for the education, Bradford!
Have you been mesmerized by Fab.com and it’s blend of innovative design and masterful storytelling? Give us your thoughts below.