Storytelling as Brand Building: Barneys New York Nails It

thewindow“Our customers engage with our editorial content to understand the decisions we make as a brand.”

Forget the corporate press release. Brands these days are telling their stories directly to their audience in ways that resonate deeply.

Earlier this year we reported that Barneys New York is publishing a print magazine based on its site content. The move, along with a new standalone mobile app, is aimed at using the power of storytelling to build their brand, according to Hilary Milnes in Digiday.

“Barneys New York is beginning to think like a publisher. Its online content blog, The Window, launched this year both as a full print magazine and as a standalone mobile app,” Milnes writes.

“We’ve built out our editorial properties in order to focus on storytelling as the primary relationship-building tool for our brand,” Barneys Executive VP of digital Matthew Woolsey said during a panel at the Decoded Fashion Summit in New York. “Our customers engage with our editorial content to understand the decisions we make as a brand.”

“We’re always thinking of ways to get content that’s not elsewhere by asking what ourselves what our customers want from our brand,” Woolsey said. “It sounds basic, but what they expect from Barneys is different than what they expect from Amazon.”

It makes good sense. Barneys has always been a source of inspiration and advice, with photo spreads and content that help customers feel like a part of the experience. And those readers are, according to Milnes, “the store’s highest value customers, so the company wanted to reach them wherever they were, hence the mobile app, launched in September.”

“From a business standpoint, when we look at editorial we’re looking at engagement. We aren’t trying to come up with merchandised lists based on a business area that had a tough week,” Woolsey said. “The more we can focus on the story from the Barneys’ point of view, the more people will feel engaged, and over time they’ll make more purchases. We see that in our analytics.”

This kind of engagement is for the long-term rather than the quick sell, and the brands that do it well find it pays off well in customer loyalty and brand awareness.