For some brands, putting a modern spin on heritage elements can be a challenge. Aveda, on the other hand, has effectively used the Internet to help expand the iconic collection’s fan base, simultaneously promoting both its classic qualities and cutting-edge innovation. Online marketing campaigns like the one it launched last December—#SmellsLikeAveda, a nod to the recognizable fragrance the late founder, Horst Rechelbacher, used for the collection when it was introduced in the 1970’s—exemplify this technique. “It’s a balance between the new product technology we now have and still staying true to being a professional salon brand, which is how Horst launched the company,” explained Rachel Ostrom, Aveda’s Executive Director of Consumer Engagement. “We don’t want people to forget that heritage and that core tie to the brand for people who know us going back 35 years, but at the same time, we’re also moving into high performance hair care, so feel like these tactics let us reach the guest that has really focused on that high performance hair care and the proven results that go with it.”

Aveda has been an early adopter of many online marketing strategies for the past decade. It was the first professional hair care brand to offer e-commerce; five years later, it was one of the first brands to launch mobile commerce. It was the first Estée Lauder brand to launch ratings and reviews, and the first professional hair care brand with a proprietary loyalty program, too. No wonder it was named as one of the top three “genius brands”, along with L’Oréal Paris and Pantene, in the most recent L2 Digital IQ Index for the second year running. “It’s not always that we’re the trendsetter as much as we’re kind of willing to be first,” Rachel said. “We really do like to be the first to do something. We’re willing to try new things all the time.”

Other online strategies that have been particularly successful, and will continue, are the use of how-to videos on YouTube, which can get millions of page views, and Facebook, where Aveda has 1.3 million fans. Aveda also posts from backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The Internet has also offered the brand a particularly effective medium with which to build up momentum for new products before they’re released. Pre-sampling for key product launches such as Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, which was recently introduced, lead to ample positive reviews on prior to its in-store date. (For that specific product, salons were encouraged to share before-and-after images on Instagram as well.)

The Internet will be a key component in this year’s remaining campaigns, promoting its customizable hair color, as well other (non-hair) launches, such as a hand cream and new makeup colors.

“Ideally, we’re just trying to get the word out on new products before they launch, give people a chance to experience and talk about them, and hopefully they’ll come back when they’re on counter and make a purchase,” Rachel said.