Leslie Albertson lives life in full color. As Mixbook’s marketing director, she’s bringing her personal flare to the design company that helps everyday people create the photo books, calendars, and cards of their dreams.
Read on to hear how Leslie took on the task of rebranding Mixbook to appeal to a younger audience.
Tell us a bit about your journey to marketing director at Mixbook.
I first joined the Mixbook team in 2013 to lead mobile marketing for a new photo book app we launched. I was focused on building the Mosaic brand through partnerships, growing our customer base, and acting spokeswoman at conferences and events. I became the Director of Marketing for Mixbook in 2015, when I was about 6 months pregnant! Quite the time to get a job promotion - but it shows the tremendous culture and support within the Mixbook team. My main focus at that time was developing our marketing communications and content strategy - including email, social, and the blog. As I dove into the Mixbook brand, I realized that we hadn’t done a great job at carving out our place in the market and really tapping into an underserved market of DIYers. This kicked off a very thorough deep dive of our brand intent, identity, and ultimately led to a rebrand. The process took about 18-months, and it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. As of today, I lead Brand and Partnerships, focusing on engaging events, inspirational content, and growing our brand awareness through partnerships including influencers, designers, creators, and like-minded brands.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
Being creative and making an impact. I truly feel empowered in my role to try new things and take risks, and what we do makes an impact on people’s lives everyday. A photo book captures some of the most precious moments in time and allows people to create and connect more deeply. That feels really good! And, I love hearing the unique stories of our customers and how they use Mixbook.
How do you breathe new life into a company when you yourself are new to the brand?
Always understanding who your customer is. Understanding your customer forces you to think differently and from their perspective. I think whenever you are looking to refresh a brand, you have to have a deep understanding of why you do what you do, what the core brand values are, and who your target customers are. Simon Sinek has this Golden Circle theory which should be the foundation to any brand. First, answer why you do what you do, then the how you do it, and then the what. Many do this backwards. Also, understanding your customer is key. Having at least 2-3 customer personas deeply defined (and based on data and actual customers) are essential too. Once you get an essence of your DNA, then the magic happens. You explore colors, type, imagery, inspiration, mood boards, and real-world feedback to help bring the visual identity to life. It’s definitely a lengthy process, but with the right approach and data to back you up (and a little faith from your exec team), it all comes together. I had been at Mixbook for over 3 years at the time of the brand deep dive, so for me I think it was more of a challenge to take off the hat of ‘what we have been’ and defining ‘who we wanted to be’ and where that fit into the market. When I look at where our brand is today - our website, logo, photography, social, messaging - it all feels so much more authentic to who we are.
What were the biggest challenges coming into Mixbook? How did you overcome them?
Shifting from marketing social mobile apps which focused on driving installs and monthly active users (MAUs) to an e-commerce company where we ship a physical good was a totally different space for me and forced me to learn a new set of business metrics. I had to learn the ins and outs of pricing, gross margins, bookings, and the cost of a customer. Having great mentors and working with an incredibly smart team helped me a ton. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience - I’ll be ready if I ever get on Shark Tank!
What strategies have you used to appeal to a younger demographic?
Primarily influencers, events, and content that aligns with current trends and what’s popular amongst younger millennials - not just moms and grandmas. Some think Mixbook is just for moms, but almost half of our customers are single, working, globetrotters that like to capture their big beautiful life. Also, I think we’re really in this era of nostalgia (hello ‘90s) where millennials are now ditching social media and material things for experiences and real life connections, which is exactly what we’re all about - capturing those experiences to create deeper connections with those you love.
What are the common challenges you've seen among female executives & directors?
In my personal experience, one challenge that I do see is finding the balance between motherhood and a career. I find that nearly all of my time is given to my career and my child, which gives little time for self-care like exercise, clean eating, and nurturing my own relationships. I think finding the balance is hard for all of us, but being conscious of taking time to care for my needs as well has become more of a priority as I’m getting older and makes me better in my career and at home.
What advice would you give to young women just getting started in marketing?
Try a lot of different things. Work for a startup or try an internship and wear a lot of hats. There are so many facets to marketing - customer acquisition, content development, SEO, email and lifecycle marketing, research and analysis, and more. I’m a big believer in finding something you're passionate about but can also make a career out of so you feel fulfilled in your role.
Where did the idea for your pop-ups come from? We loved what you did in Palm Springs!
We wanted to bring our passion for creativity and connection to real life experiences and show the unique ways you can create with Mixbook. We definitely found inspiration from some of the immersive pop-ups over the last year like the Museum of Ice Cream and Color Factory, but we wanted to go a step beyond and give people something they can create and take with them. We’ve done everything from a giant sunset-colored ombre gallery wall, where we had writeable Mixbook acrylic prints. Guests could write an inspirational message and snap a photo. We’ve also done experiences like Mixbook holiday cards used as letters to Santa, where you could pick a card from a colorful envelope wall, decorate it, and drop it in a mailbox destined for the North Pole. We love to encourage people to explore their creativity and connect with others around these experiences. I think these types of experiences make lasting impressions and we want to be a part of that!
We hear you’re launching a big project with Joy Cho (of Oh Joy! fame). Any inside info you can share?
Yes! We are so excited for this collaboration. She’s been a big inspiration to us and we feel lucky to be able to bring her colorful and fun designs to Mixbook. The collection is inspired by travel, color blocking, spring and summer colors, and the signature Oh Joy! elements like confetti and glitter. There are some fun designs to get the kids involved too so families can get creative together! We’ll be having a launch party that brings some of the collection’s elements to life in a pop-up experience at the Southern California Children’s Museum on March 23rd in Pasadena, CA. There will be a TON of activities for the kids, and colorful IG-worthy photo opps for the adults. We’re also collecting craft supplies for Shriners Hospitals for Children to support creative programs for their kids and families in need.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Life’s a journey, not a destination. This mantra has been incredibly grounding anytime I’m questioning (or freaking out about) what’s happening in my life. It’s important to have goals and direction, but being present and embracing the challenges that come with juggling a career and motherhood is key to overcoming what can seem like the impossible. It’s about trusting in the process and believing you are exactly where you are supposed to be in this moment.
What are you most excited for in 2019?
Continuing to grow both personally and professionally. I’m so proud of where Mixbook is today and so excited to continue to expand our partnership and content to inspire more people to create and break down the ‘I’m not creative’ barriers. Personally, I’m excited to take time for self-care which includes more yoga and slowing down!