Away is global lifestyle brand designing thoughtful products to make travel more seamless. Since launching in 2016 with a single suitcase, Away has become a global business that offers a wide range of travel goods that make people's experience of travel more enjoyable and inspire them to explore more.
Jen Rubio, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer, always knew how important Instagram would be in shaping Away. An expert in brand storytelling, she knows that the delta between between a great product and a great brand is emotion—the perfect suitcase wouldn't appeal to the masses alone, but rather through a broader narrative around travel and creating context through platforms like Instagram that highlight where people can go with Away. Under her leadership, Away's Instagram amassed an engaged following of more than 350,000 people. The platform is a channel where Away comes to life, showcasing its unique voice—playful, accessible, warm—and beautiful content that evokes feelings of wanderlust—unheard of for a luggage brand until now.
Before Away, luggage companies focused on the features of their products to promote them, not on actual travel. Through storytelling on its channels—and through content from its customers, fans, and influencers who advocate for the brand to their circles—Away has reached millions of people worldwide. Instagram has been an essential driver in developing the brand's unique identity and fostering a sense of community around it. For a direct-to-consumer brand like Away, Instagram serves as an authentic platform to express its vision and consistently communicate with its customers.
One way that Away has been able to significantly grow its community and customer base, has been by using Instagram to fuel travel inspiration with compelling and useful travel content.
Away's Instagram grid and stories mix behind-the-scenes footage from campaign shoots in Cape Town, Miami, Budapest, and more, interviews with various team members to give viewers a glimpse into what Away's team is working on, and destinations that inspire new product collections and campaigns. But Away's Instagram doesn't exist just to showcase great travel and the products you need for it—the strategy behind Away's Instagram presence is to foster a community who loves to travel, who's open to visiting new places and experiencing different cultures, and who comes to Away to share their own travel stories and seek new adventures with the brand. User-generated content of luggage was something that rarely penetrated an Instagram feed before Away, yet Away's community is disproving the notion that luggage is an afterthought—so much so that they've contributed to the thousands of UGC with Away's products that have become the norm to see when scrolling through an Instagram feed.
In July 2018, Away launched The Collective, a community of brand ambassadors that actively expand Away's presence on social channels and cultivate awareness and affinity within their networks. Collective members are well-travelled, diverse people whose stories from around the world inspire existing and future members of Away's community. The Collective features content creators from all over, with members from the United States, Canada, Norway, Spain, and more. The Collective members are unique and range in the kinds of travel content they create—self-classified as mommy bloggers, editors, adventure or travel photographers, entrepreneurs, wellness and beauty advocates, and more—to ensure that Away is able to reach many kinds of audiences.
Instagram is also a key tool for educating and engaging Away's community. Content is often posted on the platform to proactively demonstrate relevant information about Away products or travel tips, such as proper techniques to clean suitcases, a detailed breakdown of the differences between products, tips for efficiently using Away's compression pad to maximize how much you can pack, or travel and packing tips from Away's team. The platform has been invaluable for fielding customer inquiries, parsing feedback across relevant teams at Away, and ensuring a thoughtful and consistent dialogue between Away and its Instagram community.
This accessibility and direct line of communication creates a sense of friendliness and trust between Away and its customers. The real-time dialogue allows Away to incorporate customer feedback into decisions and quickly make changes or develop new products and experiences based on what followers are asking for, ensuring customers know that their voice is heard, whether it's a request to bring back a limited edition color or to develop ways for them to personalize their Away products.
In the last year, Away has nearly doubled its Instagram following, from 175K to more than 350K—a testament to the team's community engagement and growth strategy, and overall increase in brand awareness and customer affinity in the US and now internationally. Away's Instagram reached millions of travelers in 2018 through brand and influencer collaborations, UGC, integrated campaigns, and more.
Away has sold more than one million travel products as a result of its growing brand awareness, while building a loyal fanbase and organic celebrity following that includes Karlie Kloss (leading to a limited-edition collaboration in April 2018), Jessica Alba, Emily Ratajkowksi, Ashley Graham, Emma Roberts, and Dwyane Wade (leading to two limited-edition collaborations in June and September 2018), each of whom actively and organically share their love for Away on their Instagram channels.
Through Instagram UGC tagged by followers, Away's community has taken their products all over the world—to Patagonia, Paris, Bali, Mexico City, Cambodia, Amangiri, Marrakesh, Cartagena, Tokyo, and more.
Perhaps among the most interesting and unique results of Away's Instagram presence is the role it played in developing the brand's in-house editorial team to launch a quarterly print and digital magazine, Here. After receiving thousands of inquiries on social media from customers asking for tips and recommendations ahead of upcoming trips, Away recognized a whitespace in the travel journalism space and successfully launched Here — a trusted travel source to celebrate the voices and stories of travelers all over the world.
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