Publishing strategies


When InPublishing commissioned me to write an article on Refinery29 (UK), I have to admit I was curious. Could this American platform make the leap from stateside to a global brand?

Turns out it could.

Three years on from its 2015 UK launch Refinery29 has achieved a firm grip on the market and built a solid reputation for relevant, engaging editorial. Overall, in terms of brand reach, it has grown exponentially and now has a global audience of 550 million and more than 450 employees across its American, UK and European platforms.

But like any global brand, there has to be a sufficient differential across the platforms to capture those cultural, economic and social demographics unique to each country. This requires in-depth research, innovation plus attention to detail – get it wrong and the brand will be unlikely to survive.

When developing the UK platform one of editorial director, Sarah Raphael’s first tasks was to come up with a raison d’être, then decide how the site’s content could be differentiated from its US counterpart.

Sarah reveals that her starting point was two key questions: who did they want to be and what did they want to say?   Once these answers were established, core pillars that the brand would be dedicated to reporting could then be identified. Only then could the UK platform begin to evolve.

Fast forward to 2018 and the brand has firmly established itself in the UK market. An eclectic editorial mix is, in my opinion, a core strength of Refinery29. Such attention to detail, journalistic rigor plus a clear understanding of its audience makes it likely to succeed in the long term.

Therefore, I’ve identified five reasons why it will not only survive but thrive. These are:

  1. A robust, global and localised brand identity
  2. The rigorous approach taken to the research and testing of new platforms
  3. A relevant and engaging approach to content
  4. Continual evolution in terms of its value proposition
  5. Innovative leadership, which understands the need to invest in people

Moving forward Sarah says her long-term vision is “to be the brand women turn to and trust for opinion, education, advice, inspiration, understanding and entertainment,” while continuing to offer a platform for marginalised voices.

Digital publishers can draw many lessons from this brand but perhaps the most important one is that creating engaging, valuable and relevant content should be at the heart of all you do. To read my InPublishing article in full click on Refinery29 for the millennial-minded woman