Photo Credit: Emily Kemp for Glamour

Building Your Brand in 2018: A Glossier Guidebook

Courtney Catagnus
Dec 7, 2017 · 7 min read

In the year of #MeToo and The Silence Breakers declared as TIME’s Person of the Year, skincare bosslady Emily Weiss has cultivated a beauty brand that embodies another major trend of 2017 you just can’t stop hearing about: self-care.

Glossier, the “skin first, makeup second” beauty brand, was borne out of Weiss’ blog Into The Gloss and launched in late 2014. In less than three years, the startup has become one of the industry’s biggest disruptors. Weiss has reported that revenues are up 600% year over year, with its customer base tripling over the past 12 months. These figures beg the question — h o w ?

Without fangirling too hard over Glossier, I’ve pinpointed three marketing and branding strategies that every marketer can use as a guide to elevate their brand in the new year.

.001 // a content-first approach

Emily Weiss is no stranger to compelling content, having founded her own beauty blog in 2010 which now boasts 1.5M unique monthly users and has featured the beauty routines of it-girls such as Jenna Lyons, Alexa Chung, and Khloé Kardashian.

When it came to creating content for her start-up, Weiss carried the Into The Gloss approach with her. A “content-first company”, Weiss asserts that Glossier products themselves are pieces of content. Women receive their products in the mail, quickly snap a photo, and upload onto their own social channels and blogs.

Glossier packages arrive in a standard cardboard box (albeit sealed with beautiful, branded tape) but unboxing a Glossier package for the first time will absolutely *wow* you. A pink-coated interior houses your new items, safely packaged in lined bubblewrap bags with a zip closure that can be repurposed any way you see fit. Glossier sticker sheets are also included with every package to customize the products. The entire parcel is Instagrammable by design, Glossier’s cornerstone of user-generated content.

Do you sell physical products online? Next time you’re boxing up shipments, consider the following:

  • How are you packaging your product? If you’re just throwing your product in a box with some tissue paper and a receipt, it might be time for a brainstorm. Stickers aren’t your thing? Print eye-catching Thank You Cards with a discount code to incentivize future purchases.
  • Does your branding translate from the digital to the physical space (i.e. inserts, packing material)? Add that personal touch to make your brand instantly recognizable to your customer at first glance.
  • Is your packaging Instagrammable? We can’t all be pretty-in-pink Glossier, but everyone can create a finished product that they’re proud of and that their customers are excited to unbox.

Check out this Shopify blog for some more inspiration.

Aside from UGC, Glossier executes other strategic content streams targeted to its female Millennial audience.

  • Skincare and makeup routines lend themselves to bite-sized video content which is generously posted across Glossier’s channels.
  • The brand uses Instagram Stories to connect on an even deeper level with its customer base. Once a week, employees takeover Glossier’s Stories to show off their skincare routines, their workspaces, or even to challenge colleagues to draw the Glossier “G” from memory — the latter making for spontaneous and giggle-worthy content.
  • An ongoing social media content series includes images of the everyday woman’s makeup shelf. The images are eye-catching and inspire you to scope out your fellow woman’s makeup stash, however the most interesting aspect of this series is that Glossier is featured alongside its competition. This is a testament to founder Emily Weiss’ belief that skincare is a “recipe” as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.

Content is king, and there’s an infinite number of channels to publish the beautiful creative that you worked hard to perfect. Before scheduling your next content calendar, consider the following:

  • Is your brand posting at least 1 video per week? While algorithms are ever-changing, video has become a mainstay of content strategy. If you have long-form video, start chopping up your .mp4's and .mov’s to create short-form videos or GIFs that can be repurposed across channels.
  • Are you posting high quality photo and graphic design? As the old adage goes, quality over quantity. There’s plenty of free tools out there on the web you can incorporate into your day-to-day to boost your content game. Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design tool for social posts, collages, and digital postcards — available both on desktop and mobile app. Snapseed is a free photo editing app if you need to edit on-the-fly. Check out this list for more options.
  • What channels are you using to engage with your customers? Are they showing returns? If you’re seeing low engagement rates on brand Tweets, analyze what value you’re bringing to customers who follow you on Twitter. If you’re on Twitter just to be on Twitter, it’s time to craft a compelling content strategy.
  • Are you following platform best practices? Optimize content for each channel (i.e. hashtags, image sizes, calls-to-action).
  • Are you showcasing your value? Glossier isn’t afraid of its competitors, and you shouldn’t be either. What elevates your brand? Make sure your value proposition is central to your content strategy.

.002 // authenticity & transparency

Weiss has spoken at length in interviews and panels about Glossier’s approach to authentic communication with its customers. The key ingredient for Glossier? Friendship. No matter the medium, Glossier communicates as if they’re sending a text message to a friend. Order and shipment notifications come from the “gteam”, humanizing the shipping & receiving process. To build on heavy emoji use amongst their target audience, Glossier even created their own alphabet that they use in both physical and digital formats.

Glossier believes in the democratization of the Internet, and therefore understands that every customer has a powerful voice. As a result, Glossier is transparent with customers across the board — from shipment delays to product malfunctions. You can find evidence of this by a quick scan of their social feeds. Most customer feedback, both positive and negative, is met with an actionable reply from the Glossier team.

I’ve had first hand experience with Glossier in this regard. In early 2016, I placed my very first Glossier order: Boy Brow, Priming Moisturizer, and Milky Jelly Cleanser. After attacking the shipment with a pair of scissors, I was disappointed to find that the Boy Brow tube was completely empty. I contacted Glossier via Facebook Messenger. Not only did they reply within the hour that they’d ship me a new tube of Boy Brow, but when I received the new package, I was ecstatic to find that they shipped the entire order containing another set of moisturizer and cleanser as an apology for the inconvenience ($40 worth of new product…DAMN). It was the most memorable brand interaction I’ve experienced that defines going “above and beyond” for the customer.

Consider the following when interfacing with your customers in the digital space:

  • How are you communicating with your customers? If you sound robotic, chances are your customers assume there’s a robot automating the customer service experience — and that’s no bueno. Create FAQ’s for your customer support team to streamline the process, but encourage them to be kind, empathetic, and human.
  • Are you reading reviews (and replying to them), listening to customer feedback through your sales channels, and implementing changes based on that feedback? Major emphasis on the last part. With Facebook reviews, Yelp, and Twitter, it is non-negotiable for brands to interact with both positive and negative customer comments in a timely fashion.
  • Are you using social media to interface with customers and remedy issues? If the answer is no, consider if your audience is using these channels. If they are, it’s time to consider social listening tools.

.003 // en👏🏽gage👏🏽ment👏🏽

If you’re a marketer, you know how important it is for your business, brand, or clients to engage with their online audience. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use Glossier as a textbook example of a brand that is pushing the envelope for other B2C brands to follow suit.

Engaging with customer feedback has been part of Glossier’s DNA since day one. The brand often encourages its customers to chime in with ideas — just ask one of the members of the exclusive Glossier Slack channel. Yep, Glossier invited its top customers to be part of a Slack group where they talk beauty all day, organize meet-ups, and share feedback on products new and old.

Maybe your brand hasn’t quite arrived at the Slack channel stage, but consider ways you can tap into your customers and convert them into co-creators of your brand.

  • Surveys are a great way to get actionable feedback from your top customers or during field marketing events where consumers are interacting with your product for the first time. Free tools like TypeForm create beautiful surveys and record responses in real-time.
  • Loyalty programs can transform a company from a corporation to a community. Customers want recognition that goes beyond monetary benefits. Give those within your loyalty program something exclusive or personalized in exchange for a social share, entering a contest, or inviting their friends. Let your customers be a part of your brand story and community.
  • Meet-ups can go a long way in developing lasting relationships with your brand evangelists. Searching your email database or native insights, geo-target customers who live close to your headquarters and reach out. Organize a happy hour or invite them to an exclusive company event.
  • Surprise & Delight campaigns can create lasting brand loyalty when used strategically. Use social listening tools to identify your most engaged followers and surprise them with a free product, gift card, or company merch as a thank you for their loyalty.

Courtney nerds out over beauty products but also loves waxing poetic about branding and content strategy. Hit her up if you have an idea you want to discuss or need help with your brand’s digital strategy.

Courtney Catagnus

Written by

music & outdoors. dog mama. digital marketer. denver, colorado.

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