This was Georgia Christensen‘s opening statement to a full room of brand marketers at Summit ’12. A twenty-five year veteran as a creative director in retail, she’s been a stalwart in the industry for rethinking and redefining images for a number of top brands. And in her endeavor to re-energize the book for Neiman Marcus, she says, it was about understanding and leveraging brand differentiators.
Christensen had a score of illustrative examples of how she has helped Neiman Marcus “think big” since leading a new creative direction for the book in 1996. One of her top goals, she said, was to change the perception of the magazine from a typical publication to a collectible piece of art that told a story. The crux of her new vision focused on re-imagining the approach to photography. Chic, modern, and more engaging photos placed an emphasis on inciting action. Even pictures of Neiman Marcus executives were revamped to depict them in a more approachable light. “The end goal for us,” she said, “is about driving traffic to the channel and the brand – and it happens fast.” The result: Time named this new vision of the book in 1996 as one of the Top 10 ad campaigns for that year – a first for any retail company.
As new technology emerged, Christensen embraced it, injecting even more life into the magazine. Selling the brand experience was extended through social media, blog posts, an engaging email campaign, and videos that bring the photo shoots to life. Integrated media brought users behind the scenes and created a content-hub for fans to enjoy in their own way.
Christensen gave attendees a preview into the Fall 2012 edition known as The Art of Fashion. This issue will feature cutting-edge photos from renowned photographer Erik Madigan Heck, chock-full of merchandise from high-end designers. Like with the usual editions of the magazine the goal of the campaign is the same – to engage readers through revealing editorial profiles, Pinterest posts, and an all-around interactive approach to retail.
To wrap things up, she left the audience with five takeaways to bring back to their own creative teams.
- Listen – both inside your business and to your customers.
- Keep focus on the customer and brand in the center.
- Break down silos.
- Harness the talent around you.
- Relax. Enjoy. Have fun.
“We work in an amazing industry and the stakes are high, and the possibilities with creativity are endless. It will show in the end when everything is firing on all cylinders.”