Vanja Stace, The Fashion Darling, returns this week with pointers on how to ensure your brand stands out in the market. Make sure you use her checklist at the end of the post to get started with building your unique brand strategy!
What is a brand?
A brand is a combination of name, design, symbol, product, price, customer service and customer experiences that separate one business from the next.
A brand is not a logo, a business card or a uniform. Your brand is the feeling that your consumer associates with you. You never really have full control of how a consumer experiences your brand, but you can steer their feelings in the direction you desire.
Why do you need a brand?
You need a brand so that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors, and so you can create lasting relationships with your consumer.
Your business needs to be seen as unique so that you can develop a competitive advantage. When a brand is done well, it can improve the consumer's experience and opinion of the business, and (this one's very important) – help build loyalty. Loyalty = sales.
So, how do you create a great brand?
1. Vision and mission
First you have to look at your vision. Why did you start in the first place? What is unique about your business? What impact do you want to have on the lives of your customers? What problems do you want to solve?
Many designers I speak to are not 100% sure about their ‘why’, they start their brand because they love designing but they forget to think of their customer. The customer ultimately cares about what your brand offers them, so make your vision and mission customer-centric.
Is your brand serious, playful, elegant? Sophisticated, earthy, edgy?
Personality plays a big part of how your brand will be perceived and who you attract as a customer.
3. Target market
Who are you trying to attract? If you're aiming your brand at retired women then your approach will be different to your approach if the target market were 20-something young professional men.
Identify who you would like to reach and think about what they need to see in a brand in order to deem it relevant to them.
4. Unique selling proposition
Why should your customer care? Think about why would they buy your product.
Which need are you fulfilling?
What is it about you that would make them choose your business over the business they are already buying from?
Are you creating fashion for the fashion-conscious fitness fanatic? Is your babywear line made from organic cotton that is softer on baby's skin?
Think about your point of difference.
This is important not only for the end-consumer but also for your wholesale channel; retailers have limited rack space (or shelf space) in their stores so they need to understand what is unique about your brand and why they should drop an existing label from their store in order to take yours on.
If you don’t know what makes you different your customer and buyer won’t either.
Your brand needs reflect your price point, your place in the market.
Low cost brands - think mass market Kmart, Walmart - have bright, primary colours. Lighting in their stores is bright and their retail space screams ‘no frills’.
Luxury brands tend to have sleek, minimal and often monochrome identities. Their stores are softly lit and beautifully designed, and staff are well presented and courteous.
Masstige brands - mass market brands trying to look prestige or high-end, think Topshop, Zara etc, can mimic the visual identity style of luxury brands because they hope to attract the aspirational consumer who would prefer luxury but doesn’t have the funds to support this.
Price has a direct impact on service and how the customer is treated.
If you shop at Kmart you won't be given much personalised service. That is a part of their brand, they remove all frilly bits so they can reduce the price of the product.
If you shop for an expensive wedding gown, you will get a personal showing, champagne and a very enthusiastic fitting assistant. That is also a part of their brand, creating an experience you will always remember.
Now that your head is in the game....
..use the checklist below to get started on your brand strategy:
- Vision and mission
- Why did you start your brand?
- What impact do you want to have on the lives of your customers?
- What problems do you want to solve?
- What is your brand’s personality?
- How do you talk to your customer / audience?
- Target market
- Is your brand currently attracting your desired target market?
- If not, what do you need to change in order to attract your Ideal Buyer?
- Unique selling proposition
- What is your point of difference?
- Where does your brand sit: budget, value, masstige, luxury?
- Do all of your brand/marketing efforts support your place in this part of the market?
About the author
Vanja Stace is the founder and principle of The Fashion Darling School of Business.
The Fashion Darling was founded in 2015 and has helped many international designers. In July 2015 we won the Fashion Edupreneur 2015 Award, which recognises excellence in the delivery of educational programs in the fashion industry.
The Fashion Darling will be back next friday with tips for your fashion line. In the meantime, if you have any questions for Vanja, reach out to her on www.thefashiondarling.com.