Full disclosure: We couldn’t be prouder of The Tomorrows’ Ally Lewis and Louise Denny or cheer louder for their success. They are both alum of the Tory Burch family, having worked for years on the creative and press teams, respectively. Lewis and Denny understand better than most that branding is critical to new brands — it’s how you let clients and investors know who you are and what you’re all about. The Tomorrows is a brand and content strategy consultancy that helps companies “articulate and amplify their brand through words and imagery — online and offline,” say Lewis and Denny. Here, the entrepreneurs dig deeper.
How did you come up with the name?
Denny: We are a forward-looking company. We are inspired by the past and ground ourselves in the present, but we will always have an eye on tomorrow — and all of our tomorrows — to learn more, push ourselves further, be better…
Lewis: ‘Tomorrows’ represents who we are. We aspire to work with the great brands of tomorrow, and the next tomorrow, and the next….
Why is building a brand through brand content so important to a new company?
Lewis: It’s the difference between a customer choosing you over your competition. The right content shows what you stand for and gives your brand a lasting identity, from look and feel to tone of voice. Building a great brand — not just a product — enables you to cut through the noise and create an emotional connection with your customer.
Denny: Most people decide in less than 10 seconds on your website or social channels whether they like you or not (and as a result, if they’ll return). Your brand content has to be great to keep your company in their consideration set. We’ve had VCs tell us that they won’t consider investing in a new business unless their messaging and visuals are spot on.
What’s one mistake brands make when it comes to their message and branding? And how would you advise them to overcome that?
Lewis: Trying to emulate someone or something else. The most compelling narratives start by looking inward.
Denny: Doing too much. You can’t be everything to everyone and that’s OK. Focus on one or two things that are integral to your brand and run with them… Rather than having 100 different messages, start with a singular message and iterate on it in 100 interesting ways over time.
Outside of women’s fashion, what are a few new companies that you think are doing interesting things with their messaging? (And why?)
Denny: Hamlet, the text-based interior design service, combines digital and human content in a cool way. You first communicate with a bot and then a human stylist takes over to give personalized recommendations.
I also love what Rockets of Awesome is doing. They engage the children who wear the collection (through things like classroom Valentine’s) and the moms who buy it.
And while not new, Spotify does an incredible job of enhancing music with relevant content — lyrics as you listen, song title meanings, little-known facts about the making of albums…. It all adds up to a rich user experience.
Lewis: Violet Grey is always on point. They continuously engage customers in unexpected yet relevant ways, like sending a surprise gift box of curated “photo-ready” products over Oscars Week. They know what you want even before you know.
Parachute, the home essentials brand, also does an incredible job of explaining the ‘why’ and giving their assortment greater context. For instance, their ‘Bedtime Routine’ franchise supports healthy sleeping habits — and we read it religiously (while in our Parachute sheets).
And there are several new brands we’re watching — Delfina Balda’s mix of art and fashion, Drunk Elephant’s use of product reviews and user-generated content, Sies Marjan’s visuals, Paravel’s brand identity and cross-platform consistency…. We’re excited to see what they do next.
Best career advice you have received (and from whom?)…
Lewis: Don’t wait to deal with a tough issue — communicate openly, fix the problem, learn from it and move on. From the great Honor Brodie!
Denny: ‘Never forget you’re the help’ from PR expert (and friend) Jesse Derris’ advice from his mentor Ken Sunshine
Something you underestimated when it comes to starting your own business…
Lewis: How FUN and empowering it can be. Everyone told us it would be hard work, and it is. Really, really hard. But we are having a blast doing what we love and learning something new every day.
Denny: How willing people were to help us — from all corners. At times we were shy about asking for advice or a favor, but if you are kind and respectful of people’s time they are usually genuinely happy to help. And we couldn’t be more grateful.
What does “embrace ambition” mean to you?
Lewis: Taking a leap of faith and going for it.
Denny: Being honest and self-aware enough to run like hell with your strengths and solve for your weaknesses.