BY DANIELLE DULCHINOS
Last Thursday evening, fashion and media enthusiasts gathered, cocktails in hand, at The Brand Assembly Square to listen to a panel discussion about building a brand in the digital age. The panel included the former EIC of Seventeen Ann Shoket, stylist Sarah Slutsky, market editor of Nylon Marissa Smith, and Tictail community manager Rachel Fletcher. The event was the first of the Brand Assembly “Squaries” (read: series). “I just want to say,” said Shoket, starting off the evening, “what an incredibly cool-looking crowd. And incredibly intimidating.”
The panelists, though coming from different backgrounds, all agreed that having a digital presence was crucial to the success of a personal brand in the industry. “I think that building my brand separately from Nylon has been something that I’ve learned is a huge part of how you become recognizable in the industry,” said Smith. “So the more that you have a presence on all of your platforms, the better off you are, because that’s what everyone is following you on and figuring out what you’re doing with your life.”
Shoket agreed: “Very suddenly the world is open to you in ways it’s never been before, that you’re no longer told that you have to get a job, sit still, wait to get promoted and spend all your time being the assistant. You have a voice. You don’t have to wait for a magazine to tell you that your fashion point of view is relevant or to help connect you to power players in the industry. That phone, it’s power, and it’s changing the world.”
Perhaps surprisingly, email emerged as one of the panelists’ favorite platforms, because of the ease of building and reaching a community. “Email is awesome,” said Slutsky, “especially when you connect with the voice and the tone, you can really reach a really powerful audience.”
Panelists also discussed online etiquette—Smith suggested direct messaging a company you’d like to work with, rather than commenting to bring attention to your brand—and how to best share your message. “Be savvy with your words,” advised Smith, “because you only have a little bit of space, and people only have so many hours in the day. Learn how to say who you are and what you need in, like, 20 words.”
The Brand Assembly plans to continue the series, with panels popping up about every two months.