Kate Spade New York CMO on Building Brand Voice

Starting with a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Breakfast Club:

[closing narration] Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…

…and an athlete…

…and a basket case…

…a princess…

…and a criminal…

You use simple terms, and convenient definitions. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club#.

Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade New York says brand voice begins with your real customers, not the stats audience. In many ways, it a reflection of your consumer — who they are, who they want to be, the lifestyle they envision for themselves.

Brands sell products, so they tend to think about customers the way the principal Mr. Vernon thought about the students, using simple terms, and convenient definitions, she says.

Marketers typically use statistics like sex, age, household income, marital status, college education, etc. Stats, however impressive on an RFP or creative brief, do not help you define what visuals should be part of an Instagram presence, for example. They do not give you a great Facebook page and get you so far on Twitter.

They are even less helpful in trying to define an "in store" experience for their lack of authenticity and inability to inspire.

Brand voice starts with the business promise and its customers, the story, and the way the brand engages with customers and they engage back. At Kate Spade New York, the aspirational brand promise at the center of everything they do is:

Kate Spade New York inspires you to lead a more interesting life.

It was developed 15 years into their 20-year history to encompass a full line of products, beyond handbags, the origins of the company, after conducting extensive research. It was validated recently and in the process, the marketing team received useful feedback with examples of instances where they needed to adjust their delivery.

A point of differentiation is the recognition by the brand that there are a spiritual and intellectual aspects of leading a more interesting life by celebrating customers sense of humor, the interest and passion for the special.

Brand voice stems from who you are:

KateSpadeNewYork_who you are

After defining that, you look at who your customer are — culturally curious, lives life to the fullest, takes chances, and stands out from the crowd.

Brands can clearly establish their voice in every medium in which they participate — digital, social, retail, and traditional — and bring their brand voice to life.

Kate Spade New York experiments with content types, composition, and product mix on Pinterest, Facebook, and other social networks and spots customer trends in style and desires by analyzing the feedback in the form of pins, comments, likes, and of course transactions, the highest form of preference.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.