Years in beauty industry: 5
Specialising in the luxury sector, elevating a company's success to the next level through considered branding and website design is what makes Nic Aylett tick. Nic talks to Your Beauty Industry about creating and maintaining brand identity, how luxury brands' online platforms should differ to the mass sector and the future of E-commerce.
Tell me a bit about your career background.
I have been in the design industry for nearly 14 years, having learnt my trade at one of London’s leading creative agencies, Black Sun, working with many prestigious brands including British Airways, O2, Cable & Wireless, HBOS, Sainsbury’s and Mazda.
My career started in print production, managing all aspects of the printing process and artwork creation, which then naturally moved into website development as digital became the latest platform in communication. Although production is an important part of any development process, it didn’t excite me or match my ambition and passion, so my career path naturally became more directed towards the creative process, both in print and digital, on a strategic and execution level.
In 2006, I formed Neue Media, a creative agency with a focus on brands; understanding their unique characteristics that give them personality and presence in the world. We now work with a range of businesses from start-ups to SMEs in translating that character and personality into an online environment, so that it becomes an extension to their brand, and their story can be told consistently over every touch point.
This is particularly interesting in the health and beauty sector, which is a hugely competitive and flooded market. We work with a number of clients in this sector, delivering a range of tailored E-commerce and digital solutions.
What are the key elements to consider when creating and implementing a brand’s identity?
Branding is a never-ending cycle; whether you are setting up a new brand or reviewing your current brand, you need to ensure you engage in an ongoing cycle that will allow you to monitor, strengthen, realign or revitalise your brand.
You can’t start the branding process until you have clearly stated what you are trying to brand. You need to list the descriptors that are pertinent to your business.
Every brand needs to fill a unique, meaningful and available spot in the market place and in the consumer’s mind. Positioning can be about any aspect of your brand; product quality, service, price, design, technical aspects and so on.
The brand promise summarises the positive difference you deliver to all who deal with your organisation. It is a pledge that you build your brand upon and stake your reputation. It’s the expectation that you live up to on every touch point of the business.
The style of your brand defines how it will actually interact with and relate to your customers. The style is the personality and character of your brand. If your brand were a person who walked into a room, how would it be described?
Brands are built on story telling. It is a story that will ultimately set your brand apart from all your competitors, who may even have better products/services than you. Telling stories creates human engagement, connecting with the hearts and minds of the consumer.
If you open a Moleskin notebook you will notice a printed leaflet in the notebook telling you their story, which says that they were the chosen notebook for Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway. Now that’s a great story!
How should the online experience for luxury brands differ to mass brands?
Luxury brands are special and therefore they can’t just replicate what’s been done before or what other brands are doing. They have to do something specialised, personalised and inventive, because that is exactly what defines and separates them from mass brands.
"Luxury brands have been slow to embrace the Internet; it was seen as a cheap platform that was unable to communicate the meaningful connection between brand and consumer"
What are the biggest mistakes that luxury brands make with their websites?
Luxury brands have been slowto embrace the Internet. The Internet was seen as a cheap channel and a platform that was unable to communicate the meaningful connection between brand and consumer. Prada didn’t have a website until 2007!
Luxury brands need to embrace the digital channels and ensure that every aspect of their website is a true reflection of what the brand stands for, that show the foundations of the skill, craftsmanship, creativity, innovation, exclusivity, vision and passion that make them unique.
How do you think the online retail experience has changed over the last 5 years?
The biggest change in online retail has been through the number of different channels you can now make a purchase from. E-commerce is a term we are all familiar with, but now we have M-commerce selling through mobile devices and the use of location based technology, and F-commerce, selling through Facebook. But we also have ‘me’ commerce where anyone can now set up a basic online shop and sell their products.
The online shopping experience is certainly changing and will continue to do so. It’s becoming more distributed, more social, more global and more complicated!
"The biggest change in online retail has been through the number of different channels you can now make a purchase from"
What new technologies are emerging that you think are interesting right now?
Near Field Communication, or NFC, is technology that will soon be available on every smart phone. It is a contactless, wireless means of transferring information between two close objects. It is activated when two antennae communicate with each other through a magnetic field (for example, your Oyster card and the reader). Integrating this technology into a mobile device offers endless ways for mobile marketing and M-commerce, and bridges the gap between offline and digital media. Here are a few ways NFC could be used:
• Pick up information on-the-go from smart posters and billboards
• Mobile payment
• Bank account and passport chip details
• Gain entry into events
• Eventually it could be used to open your house or car!
Just make sure you don’t lose your phone!!
What inspired you to set up your own design agency?
I have always had the desire and ambition to have my own business, so after 9 years of working for design agencies in London and abroad, I wanted to create an agency that offered a more personal, down to earth service that is fully committed to a client’s needs, sharing their passion and vision and offering my full support during and after a project. Being part of the process in helping a business reach further success is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What top tips would you give to anyone wanting to start their own agency?
The creative industry is a very competitive industry, from one-man-bands to larger organisations, so you need to be clear where you fit into the market place in the consumer’s mind. Here are a few tips:
• Don’t follow what everyone else is doing; you have more chance of success by standing out from the crowd.
• Be an expert in your field, don’t try and be a jack of all trades
• Practise what you preach
• Networking is key, but make sure you choose the right network for your business
Who inspires you in your career?
I have been lucky enough to work with some great brands and people over the years. Clients, colleagues, consultants and strategic partners have all been a great source of inspiration.
Also Seth Godin and Simon Middleton, who are both professional speakers and authors in brand and marketing.
What’s the best career’s advice you’ve ever received?
Stay focused no matter what distractions come your way.
Twitter: @Neue_Media @Nic_Aylett