Brands validate startups

Ann Taylor's Loft brand recently made noise when it put new site LiveLoveLoft.com on growing blog network Tumblr, a popular platform for hundreds of niche fashion bloggers.

Ann Taylor's Loft brand recently made noise when it put new site LiveLoveLoft.com on growing blog network Tumblr, a popular platform for hundreds of niche fashion bloggers.

The company also smartly enlisted popular Tumblr blogger Jessica Schroeder to guest post in April. Loft is another consumer brand that has smartly utilized services from startups in the social media space.

Emergent web applications like Foursquare, Tumblr, Miso, and Hot Potato obviously focus their immediate attention on scaling user growth. Yet each corporation that jumps on board validates the premise that these companies have an opportunity to make money off their wares -- a (shocking!) sticking point for investors. 

But it is not just about opening accounts or creating blogs. The smartest companies look for ways to not only exist on these social networks, but to create broad, mutually beneficial partnerships with the startups. 

The goal for both sides is two-fold. For the startups, they get to reach consumers offline, while creating case studies that allow them to eventually find a revenue model that will sell services to corporations. Established brands get the power of association with cool startups while reaching that startup's growing audience. 

Ecosystem, a client of Attention, not only created a Tumblr blog, it partnered with the blog service for a sponsored reading event in New York City, where bloggers read and attendees were given complimentary custom Tumblr notebooks.   

Also look at Foursquare's recent brand partnerships with … everyone. Bravo, Zagat, Pinkberry, and Marc Jacobs all jumped on the Foursquare train early on and have seen an overwhelming amount of buzz from it.

By adding their large name and audience to a growing company puts them on the map and makes them look "cool" to the early adopters eager to see what's next.

Kristin Maverick is a director of consumer at Attention.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog incorrectly stated that Ann Taylor was using Tumblr. In fact, it was Ann Taylor's Loft brand that put LiveLoveLoft.com on the blogging network. We regret the error.  

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