As a veteran in the fashion business, this feature on business practices and tips are from my personal experience. Those of you that are recent graduates bear in mind that academia is a great foundation. Gaining complete knowledge of running a fashion business [designer, wholesaler, or retailer] is the combination of both academia and experience. My hope is that these EDGE-ucation sessions will give you something of value in your day to day practice of building your fashion business.
This is the most misunderstood area in developing a business and has the least amount of resources dedicated to it. Branding is to marketing as a design concept is to specifications. Branding is the Big picture, it tells your story, and marketing is the consistent and strategic means of connecting the brand/product to the consumer. Knowing your targeted audience and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your competition gives validity to your brand, marketing strategy, and reason for being.
Here are some best practices of Branding:
- In developing your brand, focus on engagement, not sales. You want to engage the consumer on an emotional level and to effectively communicate it across their entire brand experience. You are much more likely to see good results and a return on your marketing strategies. The more consumers are invested in your brand identity, the more likely they are to buy. As Vice President of Merchandising, The Disney Store and Catalog, my team and I lived and breathed this brand practice every day. The Disney brand had an emotional connection with the Disney consumer and they were totally dialed in and engaged. Does your brand have an emotional connection to your consumer? What is your story? Is it nostalgia, pop culture, Eco-friendly? Communicate the personality of your company through your branding. What are your values? Consumers are smart; they have high expectation for brands, and want to understand the brand behind the product.
- Brand Image – Think of how you are developing your brand. The appearance, what it stands for, the image consistency across all marketing material, media, and categories or business units is key. You need to communicate the same look, message, and spirit.
- Leverage the brand. The big learning experience for me at Disney was the leverage of the brand. Disney was best at leveraging the ‘brand’ with all the business units [the theme parks and resorts, consumer products, the studios, etc.]. They were effective with the consumer having a total consistent brand experience. When Disney launched a new animated film, every business unit was leveraged with that “new” film from the theme parks to the stores to the media network group. Synergy at it’s best. So leverage your brand across all your business categories or groups, all your media channels, etc.
- Don’t let the brand get in the way of great innovative product. I can’t stress this enough, because big branded companies get lazy with developing great product in exchange for the consumer’s loyalty to the brand. Do not put a spin on the brand in place of the integrity of your product. Look at what is happening to the Gap [Refer to archived feature Fashion Trends Are They For Real].
All Images courtesy of Jun – Rock That Fashion Show | LA Fashion Week