folder Filed in Branding tips, Interviews
10 entrepreneurs share their thoughts on how to build a strong brand online
By Kristina Misic access_time 14 min read

Building a strong brand that is not dependent on third-party platforms (social media giants and search engines) is not an easy thing, especially for smaller brands with limited budgets. Just 10 days ago, on the 5th of January 2021, Bottega Veneta deleted all of its social media accounts. Even though not officially announced, some possible reasons may be focusing on building a direct connection with their customers, looking for a more exclusive experience, and issues with the privacy of their customers’ data on third-party platforms. We asked for some opinions from the fashion and entrepreneurial world what are their thoughts about Bottega Veneta’s move and what would be their advice on moving towards creating a stronger brand and building a direct connection with customers. Let’s hear what was their experience with social media in industries they work in.


Constantinescu Andreea

“I’m very determined to bring a new and fresh vision in a very traditionalist country, continuing to apply what I have learned in Bottega Veneta, which is connecting emotionally and directly to my customers by offering them sensory and visual live experiences.”

Andreea Constantinescu, Entrepreneur

As I see it, Bottega Veneta, lately, in the past 4-5 years, dealt with a lot of confusion. Part of it, I think, came as a result of the constant leadership changes and part for the major pressure of the commercial competition. The pressure of competition may be constructive, but in conjunction with the leadership changes may be very confusing and self-defeating. Most of all, because the trend in luxury fashion is sometimes subjected to unachievable targets and goals. Bottega Veneta had set a lot of competitive goals when Kering group welcomed it on board. For a long period, BV could keep up with most of the expectations, also thanks to the CEO of that particular moment who managed to reconcile the property economical expectations with the creative views of the creative director at the wheel in that precise moment. However, the pressure continued to increase even with the arrival of new CEOs and therefore also the confusion. As it is generally known, the difference of expectations between a CEO and a creative director (the first one has to comply to a certain financial and economical budget, while the creative director focuses more on the creativity, art and originality regardless production costs ) is widely divergent. When Daniel Lee was appointed as the new creative director, I felt that it was the beginning of a new era, without detracting the great legacy of Tomas Maier. Clarity has to be made. Surely it was a hard task, but by only doing a simple google research on Daniel Lee, it was obvious that he didn’t like social approach. He himself does not have any account on FB, Instagram or any other visual or social platform. He always declared that he prefers the 100% human interaction. I am sure that since he came in BV he took his time to analyze the dynamics and he perceived, first of all, that there was a lot of confusion regarding the future of the brand and hesitation and incertitude regarding the history of it. I guess that this move will bring them closer to their initial identity and, more important, in a deeper and more personal connection with their customers.

I have worked as a PA to the Industrial director. I worked in close collaboration with the communication and press departments in order to organize unique, personalized, and emotional experiences for the very important clients and press representatives always involving all the departments in order to instill the great mastery of the artisans and of each and every piece they created.

Currently, I am a freelance event organizer and I am working on a business plan for opening my own personal activity here in Vicenza, Italy even though I’m not Italian. I’m very determined to bring a new and fresh vision in a very traditionalist country, continuing to apply what I have learned in Bottega Veneta, which is connecting emotionally and directly to my customers by offering them sensory and visual live experiences.


Grazia Venneri

“Focus on quality rather than quantity, communicating authentic values, and sharing stories resonating with the brand’s community.”

Grazia Venneri, Founder at NEV – NeverEndingVibes

More than ever, each brand should speak with its own voice and through the best channels for its specific customers. Even with a limited budget, a smaller brand can create unique and engaging content to elevate the conversation and overall customer experience. Focus on quality rather than quantity, communicating authentic values, and sharing stories resonating with the brand’s community.

Fashion industry has gone through an overexposure on social media that certainly increased visibility but reduced differentiation, with most brands publishing similar content and relying on the same influencers. We might see an evolution towards truly engaging and personalized customers experiences, driven by tech advancements such as Artificial Intelligence.


“There is already a discussion underway on fake followers and engagers being bought by many influencers. I think the time is ripe for a revolution in the online media industry as well.”

Soumya Jain Agarwal, Chief Editor & CEO at LuxuryFacts

Not having (free) social media platforms at your disposal to make a brand might be unthinkable. But where there were 100 brands fighting for consumers, the pandemic has unfortunately erased many of them, making unsuccessful brands shut shop. It has cleared the playing field a little, thus giving each brand a little more visibility.

Being in the online news/media industry, social media is extremely important for us. After all, the more your website travels, the more hits you get, the more advertisers you get. But the explosion of ‘influencers’ has diluted our industry as well. There is already a discussion underway on fake followers and engagers being bought by many influencers. I think the time is ripe for a revolution in the online media industry as well.


Scott Newton

“Brands can build a direct connection with their customers by creating shared experiences (in person and virtually), by ensuring every touchpoint with the customer reinforces the shared values between the Brand and the Buyer, and through the use of various tools and services – I expect we will see significant growth in private events, in 1 to 1 communication, and in a more “private” connection in 2021 and looking forward.”

Scott Newton, Managing Partner

Social media in our industry, and for our clients, is important. However, the weight is sometimes overestimated. I look at social media as a way to further the conversation with customers, to get instant feedback on what is working and not working, and as an additional channel for communication.


“It is also very easy to get lost in the space of social media where everyone and everything is a brand nowadays.”

James Lee, Creative Production Lead, Brand Design Studio @Cash App

No matter how expensive the end product is, there are millions of brands in front of consumers’ faces via social media that you cannot cherish a beautiful piece of product/photography without being distracted by the next ad coming your way.

My experience in my industry of creative advertising, music, and financial tech has all been fairly the same. Each brand has dedicated resources to make a huge push on social media to capture engagement, tell interesting stories, gain followers which we all hope translates into more monetary transactions and how we can continue to rinse and repeat. Personally, I’ve always been an advocate of “less is more”. When you take a step back and you push your team to tell deeper stories that provide a much more human element, that social campaign will be much more refreshing because you’re now tapping in the psyche of a real human being and not just a human with a $ on their forehead. You’re now creating a community that will follow your brand for messaging voice/tone alone and will be delighted to spend as they want to continue to be aligned with such a supportive brand.


Severina Grozeva-Patrone

“I think what we’ve seen recently from the political sphere demonstrates that social media can be Frankenstein-like, so being responsible and adaptive is key.”

Severina Grozeva-Patrone, Brand Communications Strategist

Any targeting strategy needs to be built on an understanding of consumer behaviour. If your customers get their inspiration from social media, then your brand shouldn’t close the door to these channels just because another brand has. However, remember to dig deep and ask questions – every social network is different so it might be that your story is better suited for Pinterest instead of Instagram for example. There are also lots of regional networks that are strong in local markets. So, the first rule remains – understand and serve your customer.

When I started working in brand communications and public relations about ten years ago, social media was nascent and mostly limited to blogs. Perceptions have changed tremendously – it used to be a struggle to convince clients to work with bloggers, as all they valued was print media. Nowadays, everyone wants to be on Instagram, so it’s about evaluating the right platform and the right partners to get the message across. I think what we’ve seen recently from the political sphere demonstrates that social media can be Frankenstein-like, so being responsible and adaptive is key.


“In my experience, social media has been used primarily to educate and inform users.”

Sam Sabzerou, Consultant

In my opinion, building a brand and garnering brand loyalty all starts with the customers and the target market they have in mind. Build an internal strategy appeasing customers – this can be achieved through direct feedback from customers, online surveys, etc.


Kate Sheldon

“I think mining for social media gold is far more challenging than most brands realize and perfecting their media presence far more costly and time-consuming than most expect.” 

Kate Sheldon, Founder/CEO Fashioneering LLC

Building a successful brand that is not reliant on third-party platforms begins and ends with tremendous product.  Third-party platforms can amplify your message, accelerate growth, and even temporarily conceal a multitude of sins in the actual product.

 Get the product right and then get it into the hands of the right people. There is not a client I have not worked with that I have not recommended they focus first on perfecting the product – then build their strategy based upon the concepts in Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”. You do not need everyone to know about your brand and product; just a few of the right people.

While social media is far from new it is still a bit of the Wild West and most brands are just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. I think mining for social media gold is far more challenging than most brands realize and perfecting their media presence far more costly and time-consuming than most expect. The good news is this pain point has offered many new opportunities for copywriters and social media experts.


Giulio Gargiullo

“Exclusivity should be guaranteed online, simply because we’re currently living in a digital world. Reconsidering your presence online means also protecting your brand reputation, especially in a world where anyone can easily harm it or manipulate it. A brand name, its history, and values are priceless, then we have the duty of protecting it and enhancing it over time.”

Giulio Gargiullo, Online Marketer specializing in Online Luxury Marketing and Luxury Branding Strategies

We should be aware that our brand experience should be kept with or without social media, and a strong relationship with a brand means I’m tied to a firm value beyond digital life. For some years being present on many social platforms could sound smart, although they said “try to choose just a few channels your customers need”. I really think firms should start reconsidering their presence online, considering the few places where they really need to be and where they can offer their best communication and content to their customers. Today, more and more, we need to create strong firm messages, in the right places be digital or not. There’s always a balance between digital and offline life. I don’t know if there’s ever been a separation between these two concepts.

My experience is good in general about social networks, but I’ve noticed many times that they’re not the best tools at all times. You have to choose really carefully your niche, find where your customers or prospects are and where they expect to find you. As said before, every firm should find its own space, where it’s valued at its best. Yeah, less is more oftentimes.


Nefeli Mandilari

“Any entrepreneur that wishes to build a strong brand should focus on improving the direct touchpoints with the customers by providing value for them in every single interaction.”

Nefeli Mandilari, Founder and CEO of Ergon Studio

Brands should not need the middle-man services of social media in
order to reach their audience and to build a relationship with them. We often see brands with strong social media accounts, publishing trending imagery, and creating a lifestyle around low quality, cheap products. These brands do not have a direct connection with their customers, nor they care about their well-being. They only care about selling their items, even if it is just for one time and the customer never returns.

Any entrepreneur that wishes to build a strong brand should focus on improving the direct touchpoints with the customers by providing value for them in every single interaction. Brands should design and produce high-quality products that last, provide excellent in-store and online experience and use their own websites and mobile apps in order to get to know their audience, to inspire, educate and reward them for their trust in their brand.


“NFC/QR Code based customer experience and engagement will be a key driver for B2C communication. In this channel, the content can be controlled and managed by Brands.”

Stephen Howells, Checkpoint Systems GmbH

NFC based experiences with brands to create an immersive experience and to communicate the good points of products, and critically the sustainable messages. I have delivered solutions that embed NFC tags into products that are then interacted with by the consumer via their smartphone. This is a very secure way to engage with consumers and influence the sales process.


Jason M. Pagano

“Go back to basics. To ensure that customers are directly interested in the products and novelties of the reference brand.”

Jason M. Pagano, General Product Manager

My work experience with social media hasn’t been bad but it never completely satisfied me. The (physical) lack of contact with the customer, having to explain how that product was created, why the choice of certain colors is a part, in my view, that social networks have taken away from brands.


“Knowing what the customer wants and what actions they take to achieve their goal is essential to identify all the touchpoints (digital, non-digital, direct and indirect) and plan an effective communication strategy for each.”

Federica Capra, Missoni, Digital Marketing and Communication

According to research published by the “We Are Social” agency, in 2021 there will be a “social reset”: people will re-evaluate the role that social networks play in their lives, increasing the desire to pay more attention to the simple pleasures of life.


We hope you enjoyed reading all the above, we certainly did! What is your opinion on the topic? Don’t hesitate to reach out and share it!

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