Branding Brand delivers punch to mobile retail sales
Branding Brand grew in four years from a startup interactive marketing agency to an authority in building mobile shopping websites and apps, then studying traffic and using the results to rev up sales.
The South Side company originated Internet sites that customers of Costco, American Eagle Outfitters, Bath & Body Works, Ralph Lauren and other top retailers easily can view on a smartphone or tablet computer screen and use to make purchases.
Experts predict this holiday season will ring in more mobile and multi-channel shopping — researching a product in a store and on a phone, for example — than ever. A recent PriceGrabber.com survey of nearly 2,500 online shoppers found 16 percent intend to shop with a mobile device, up from 13 percent last year.
Branding Brand is preparing for more growth. Last month, the company added former General Nutrition Centers Inc. and Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. marketing executive Jeff Hennion as its president and raised $7.5 million, its first outside investment.
“The world of retail is turning to mobile, and this place has clearly emerged as the leader in mobile commerce,” said Hennion, who headed electronic commerce at GNC. “The calls are coming in. We just need to make sure we can sustain and accelerate the growth.”
Carnegie Mellon University graduates Chris Mason, Joey Rahimi and Christina Koshzow started Branding Brand after co-founding College Prowler. That company, created in 2002, provides online “insider” reviews and rankings for students trying to choose schools.
“We had this great background in being able to use social media to help colleges get their messages out, and a great understanding of the technology required to make that happen,” Mason said.
Initially they planned to help retail brands communicate through social media. They started Branding Brand in Rahimi's dining room and moved to spaces Downtown and in Oakland before settling into East Carson Street offices last summer.
Mason, Rahimi and Koshzow found their first client through Craigslist — AHEADD, a Shadyside-based program for higher education students with autism and other challenges.
Early on, the three partners built websites and blog narrative sites, ran social media campaigns and handled public relations. Later, they honed their skills in analyzing each campaign's effectiveness.
As iPhones and other mobile devices with Internet access grew in use, “We started to notice this sliver of traffic that retailers said was coming from mobile devices,” Koshzow said.
Dick's Sporting Goods, already a client, asked around the same time whether the agency could build a mobile website for customers to navigate on small phone screens.
That site debuted in late 2009 and Branding Brand found its niche.
“People might start with us with a mobile site but then they will get an iPhone app. Then they'll get an Android app. And then they'll say, ‘What about tablets?' ” Koshzow said.
The Children's Place hired Branding Brand to develop its mobile site. Since its June 2011 debut, traffic and conversion (buyers versus browsers) more than doubled, said Michael Dupuis, vice president of e-commerce.
Enhancing mobile shopping is crucial for the clothing retailer, which operates more than 1,100 stores. “Our mom is on the go all the time and is looking to access our brand wherever she is,” Dupuis said.
Systemax North American Technology Group sold computers through its TigerDirect, CompUSA and other businesses through mobile sites for a couple years, but hired Branding Brand last year to correct flaws such as customers' inability to access their accounts.
Given six weeks to complete the overhaul before holiday shopping began, “They delivered on time and (the sites) all worked just like they said they would,” said Lonny Paul, vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606. or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins
- Red Wings rally, shock Penguins in overtime
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest
- Federal grand jury reviewing Liquor Control Board violations, sources tell Trib
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Primanti Bros. to mail sandwiches nationwide
- Man shot, killed after leaving Elliott bar early Friday
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of abusing position, viewing porn on the job
- Ferrante cyanide trial to resume Friday with doctors, investigators on stand