Digital Marketing Spotlight: Kate Spade New York

As I’ve been searching for inspiration to learn digital marketing strategy from, I found many different approaches—all good, but for different audiences and purposes. One brand that I constantly go back to is Kate Spade New York—their social media team is incredible, and it shows in the quality of work they post. I’ve always respected them for their catchy, lively Instagram feed, and it turns out there’s a lot of thought behind it.

In Mashable’s interview with Kate Spade’s CEO, Craig Leavitt, he explains their new take on social media:

“Social media is an integral part of how we look at our marketing and communications and consumer outreach, it’s part of our thinking every single day. We have young people who live and breathe social media and are immersed in it every minute of every day. We allow them to lead and trust them in this space.  We are really fortunate that we had already developed an authentic voice and persona for our brand. The Kate Spade girl aspires to lead an interesting life — to engage in the arts and literature and travel and adventure. We talk about those things on social media because that’s who she is, and she wants to hear about what her peers are doing. It feels very very natural for us.”

Rather than simply touting their own brand, Kate Spade has managed to create an entire lifestyle around their products and the persona of the Kate Spade girl: “quick and curious and playful and strong,” reads the Instagram biography. It beams of creativity and liveliness and energy and calls for followers to join in the lifestyle.

Delving into more specific details, Kate Spade also uses each channel for specific purposes, as highlighted in Oak Interactive’s gush piece on them in February of this year. Most intriguing to me are their Twitter and Instagram feeds:

“On Twitter… the tone is more conversational and playful, but still represents the Kate Spade brand. Hashtags are often used to promote a current line, like #artofthedot, or #livecolorfully, a key tagline. Plenty of conversation starters, check-ins, and updates give Twitter followers a little bit of fun throughout the day. Kate Spade uses Instagram to highlight merchandise, the office, events, and fun graphic details in different environments. There is a more personal feel to these images that you don’t get from the other social media channels.”

Andrew Kyle, Kate Spade’s SVP of Marketing, backs this up. In an April 2012 article with Business Insider, he mentioned how when experimenting with Instagram, followers seemed to really appreciate the candid snapshots of the company, as opposed to directly-marketed-to approached:

“We started putting photos on Instagram of fun drinks or cupcakes we had at office parties, and our customers love that. They just want to be a part of it.”

What a fantastic example of inbound marketing! Instead of using social media as another platform to push their products and interrupt their users, KSNY chooses to draw users in to them with beautiful, engaging, fun content that makes them want to live the Kate Spade lifestyle. GENIUS.

This is my dream job right here, guys. Just saying.


  1. Loved reading this, Mia! I really like Kate Spade, too. It’s awesome how they’re trying to inspire creativity in their target market, and they truly know who that is. It is always so great to see a company who knows exactly who their target is and how to deliver content they’re actually interested in. P.S. I started following them on Instagram. Love it!

  2. Mia, this is great! I love that Kate Spade has really been able to pinpoint the intention of brand personality: “to symbolize the personal qualities of the brand user.” My imagination has already conjured up an image of the Kate Spade Girl based on the information in your post and some of the #livecolorfully pictures I viewed. Thanks for highlighting some marketers who know what they are doing. It’s refreshing!

  3. Instagram can be a tricky outlet for many companies as they debate what photos to upload that would help them reach their audience and get the right message across. I love that Kate Spade is utilizing instagram, and doing it correctly! after all, they are clothing company it only makes sense to show the public your designs.

  4. This is a very interesting post. In the growing digital environment you can see companies really getting to know their target audience and forming an identity. This new trend in marketing is proving to be successful due to the emergence of new forms of social media.

  5. […] on brands that are doing some aspect of digital marketing right (if you missed it, here’s me gushing about Kate Spade’s twitter + instagram campaigns and Gap’s mobile marketing initiative), I wanted to highlight another champion of the digital […]

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