17 December 2010 | Tanya Goodin

10 hot digital brands to watch in 2011

Building your digital brand value is where it’s at in 2011. Brands who haven’t already made the investment in digital brand leadership will really struggle next year to make the quantum leap necessary in strategy and talent to keep up. However, for those who have been investing for some time, or those who are pure play digital, next year will be golden.

Here’s my take on 10 ‘hot’ brands I think will really make waves in digital brand leadership in 2011:

1. Nandos: This is a brand with huge digital potential and they are just ramping things up. Their celebrity fan base is huge (and they are celebs that the digital savvy youngsters like JLS, Robert Pattinson, Oprah, Jay-Z et al). They should capitalize on it and are probably hatching a way to do so right now. An iPhone app and other digital ‘add-ons’ must surely be on the cards in 2011 …

2. Mulberry: They’re celebrating their 40th anniversary next year. They’ve just enabled ecommerce and also have an app – so they’re showing signs of taking digital seriously. They need to compete against Burberry and I think 2011 will be the year they do it.

3. Instagram: In an ever-growing list of photo sharing tools, Instagram is already standing out. Modern but nostalgic at the same time – a digital ‘Polaroid’ – they’re growing fast due to the ease with which even non-expert photographers can make the dullest photo look cool. The next step for the brand will surely be to launch a non-app version with expanded functionality, or even a video equivalent (made to look like they’re shot from a Super 8?). If Instagram can keep evolving to stay at the head of the curve, they’re sure to be a hot brand to watch in 2011.

4. Forever 21 : A fast fashion retailer that has a good US digital presnce recently launched in the UK (think Primark and H&M cheap, stylish clothes that don’t look cheap). Fashion bloggers like FashionToast have helped them with fashionista cred. ‘Born’ in California then opened a few stores in Manhattan, KILLED it there and now they are hoping to do just as well here in the UK. They opened in Birmingham last month with Daisy Lowe as their celebrity ambassador. They need to step up their game in the UK to build brand as the British high street is uber competitive but they should do very well.

5. Visit Britain: The appeal of Britain in the year of the biggest Royal wedding in decades is going to be massive – this “sales” website for Britain (and many like it) will have massive appeal for visitors and commentators alike. In the run up to 2012, you’d hope they’d recognise the potential appeal their website is going to have and are planning improvements already….I suspect they are.

6. Net a porter : Launching Mr. Porter next year. Expect they will do some interesting things online to promote new brand. But, now that designers are setting up their own digital store fronts, Net a porter must step it up to remain relevant. Why shop at Net a porter when we can buy directly from designers? They’ve remained ahead so far and undoubtedly have something up their sleeves to keep their advantage.

7. Westfield Stratford : Westfield London has a successful Twitter feed and they’ve done a really good job of doing digital promotions with UK influencers. At Stratford they’ll be laying the groundwork for opening, I expect interesting Olympics integration.

8. TopShop : Yes, they are already a hot property but.. TopShop does a great job of being a lifestyle brand. Their digital presence goes beyond clothes. They are heads and tails above their competitors so it will be interesting to see how they continue to innovate, which I am sure they will…

9. Last Exit to Nowhere: With the continuing Hollywood trend of remakes / reboots / reimagining’s / reduxes etc etc, nostalgia for the “classic” version of films and TV shows will inspire a generation of consumers to show their loyalty to the originals with products from stores like Last Exit to Nowhere. LATN and similar sites (including omniconsumerproductscorporation.com) produce nerd-tastic clothing featuring slogans or quotes from cult movies and TV shows – some obvious, some delightfully obscure. Nostalgia is a big trend next year so I expect them to be BIG.

10. New Balance: this sports footwear brand has been around for over 20 years but has really grasped digital with both hands. They’ve built on the wealth of their existing community and their fans passion for the brand with a number of innovative projects (incluing their ‘New Balance 365’ campaign – 365 cool short films engaging consumers by asking them to ‘explore balance’). This brand is giving brand-leader Nike a run for their money and is proof that you don’t have to be new to ‘get’ digital.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar