As part of a new social media strategy, Elizabeth Arden is anchoring its brand voice to a fictional persona, similar to what DKNY and Oscar de la Renta have done with their insider approach to social media. The idea for Elizabeth Arden, according to vp of global digital Swan Sit, is to create a voice that represents who Elizabeth Arden, the businesswoman, would be if she were alive today.
So current-day Elizabeth Arden has dropped her grandmotherly full name and is instead going by “Liz,” who is infinitely more fun. Through the “Liz Arden” persona, the brand is trying to keep pace with the beauty industry.
“We wanted to modernize the brand and create a new digital footprint around storytelling,” said Sit. “So our social media voice had to come alive more excitedly, as a personality. It’s more compelling through the eyes of a person that shares the core values of the customer.”
The new personality, according to the brand, is edgier and more colorful than before. Liz does things like apply red lipstick in cabs to take her from the office to after-work cocktails. She even has friends: the brand has built her an “inner circle” made up of a group of collaborators who are considered to be “making an impact” in their fields: comedian Chelsea Handler, models Karlina Caune and Iris Apfel, DJ Mia Moretti, and style blogger GabiFresh. In the social narrative, each woman stops by Liz’s new office (hence the launching campaign, Behind the Desk of Liz Arden) to congratulate her on her big move and engage in empowering girl talk.
Currently, @ElizabethArden has 93,000 followers on Twitter, 60,000 followers on Instagram, and 1 million likes on Facebook. Internally, three team members are operating the new brand voice, with the help of a partner agency for creative. To transition the account from a straightforward social media feed that featured product shots and links to branded content, to one centered around a fictional character, the brand is promoting a new #LizArden campaign with the help of the celebrity faces.
In digital media, competition among beauty brands is stiff. The visual nature of the industry, combined with legions of social media-savvy beauty bloggers, have made user-generated content, YouTube tutorials and augmented reality a top priority for brands online. In L2’s 2015 Digital Beauty Index, brands deemed the most sophisticated, like Urban Decay, Maybelline and L’Oréal, all demonstrated a command over robust video content, shoppable user-generated content and guided selling techniques, like personalized recommendations.
Elizabeth Arden, meanwhile, ranked in the “average” category due to a glitchy site. In its most recent earnings report on May 5, the company announced that third quarter revenue inched up by 0.1 percent, at $191 million. Elizabeth Arden-branded products grew by 5 percent in the latest quarter (the company also owns a slew of celebrity and designer fragrance lines), which the company attributed to a renewed focus on innovation.
“They’re an iconic, but seemingly old-fashioned brand,” said Jessica Navas, chief planning officer at Erwin Penland. “This feels like a big effort to modernize, but it has to be backed up by product, innovation and how it comes to life in the actual experience.”
Sit said that the Liz Arden voice is a part of the broader focus on improving the brand’s digital capabilities. The character will be used not only as a way to get more personal on social media, but also as a guide to new products and product recommendations, lifestyle tips and relevant beauty information on ElizabethArden.com and in email newsletters. According to Sit, in the year ahead, the company is working on reformatting its website to be design-responsive on mobile, incorporating more video into social media, and prioritizing user-generated content, which Sit said will be useful in “driving the conversation” with the Liz Arden persona online.
In 2015, the brand also stepped into virtual reality makeup tutorials via mobile app YouCam Makeup, which has 100 million users. While other brands like CoverGirl, Sephora and L’Oréal built out their own VR functions, Elizabeth Arden’s exclusive beauty partnership with the app let it get in front of an existing user base, leverage existing technology and funnel app users to the Elizabeth Arden mobile web store.
“The fictional character’s focus isn’t product, but the lighthearted, social tone will permeate all digital channels,” said Sit. “We think this will make us more relevant to today’s consumer, while balancing it with our history.”