NYC is finally seeing some 70 degree days, which means it should be primetime for swimwear brands. After all, summer this is the biggest season for swim and sun-related accessories.
Under normal, non-Covid circumstances, this time of year I would typically be eagerly awaiting the Sports Illustrated Swim issue (the September issue for swim brands – love seeing clients make the cut!), maximizing celebrity and influencer product sightings from Coachella and building buzz for Miami Swim Week (the showcase for swimwear brands, both emerging and established, to showcase for brands to press, retailers, influencers and industry insiders).
But as we know, current circumstances are anything but normal. Sports Illustrated Swim has delayed their Swimsuit issue (though we are told it is still coming out), Coachella has been postponed until fall, and while Miami Swim Week is still on for now, nothing is certain.
So, what’s a swim brand to do to drive brand awareness and maintain connection and top-of-mind positioning without these mainstays of promotion this year? Well, with some creativity and tenacity, swim brands can still make an impact on their audience and have some fun in the process.
1. Create an Ambassador Program
Now is a great time to establish an ambassador program for your swimwear brand and offer a discount in exchange for social media promotion. A brand ambassador program is a smart way to gain user generated content and extend social media reach beyond traditional influencer programs. Consumers are craving authentic content as opposed to aspirational glossy images and brand ambassadors can provide this for brands.
2. Shoot new flat lays and product photography
Swimwear brands often invest in gorgeous lifestyle and on-model photo shoots – which absolutely makes sense, as swimwear brands are often meant to evoke feelings of escape and aspiration. However, with beaches closed and social distancing in place, brands can still develop content that works across multiple channels. For product round-ups, you’ll need flat lay or ghost mannequin shots on a white background. Outlets don’t have the time or budget to photograph pieces in-house so you’ll need to make sure you have these ready to maximize your chances of getting featured. This is the perfect time to find a product photographer that can shoot in their own studio.
3. Pitch the Brand Founder’s Story
Beyond just product placement, consider additional story angles. Does the brand founder have an interesting background of how they got into swim design, how they source materials or where they find inspiration for their collections? Maybe they did a sudden career turn or have a unique hobby you wouldn’t associate with a swimwear designer. Every person has a story and especially now, editors and consumers are looking for more content that is uplifting, authentic, and human.
4. Experiment with a new social channel or type of content
Don’t neglect your social media during this time – if anything this should be a top priority for swim brands and a way to ensure you’re staying connected to consumers. Post content that is relatable but also fun and on-brand for your company – like having employees all post pictures of how they’re handling WFH (perhaps highlighting a chic outdoor work space). Utliize the personable, of the moment nature of Instagram Stories and TikToks with quick how-to swimwear styling tips and what you’re seeing in terms of color and silhouette trends.
While the standard swimwear vacation and beach tie-ins are not easily pitched, brands can still engage creatively with media and consumer audiences. This summer – test messaging that is not entirely sales-driven – focus on being on brand while of service, connecting directly into the shared experience of a summer unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes.