Posted: Wed 22nd May 2013
Branding is important for every business, but none more so than those in the fashion industry, argues Fashion Angel founder Alison Lewy. In this extract from her bookÂ Design Create Sell, Alison looks at how fashion businesses can create a strong brand and USP.
Branding is important for every business, but none more so than those in the fashion industry,Â writes Alison, left. It's central to the way the public perceives and emotionally responds to a label, and brands that create a strong identity are the most likely to endure.Your branding should be reflected in all public facing activity, including the name, product, quality, packaging, labelling, marketing, advertising and PR. This is achieved by consistency through all communication channels. Your collection may change from season to season but your branding should remain constant.
Creating the brand name
When your customer hears or sees your brand name, they should immediately conjure up what it stands for. For many of the big brands, such as Marc Jacobs, Dior or Chanel, the power of their brand is what generates their profits, as most of their money is made from the licensing of their brand for mass produced items, such as accessories, perfume and make-up. It takes a long time and deep pockets to build a company to the level of these super brands. However, the principle is just as important for smaller designer labels.Â Many designers keep their business afloat from the revenue generated from being the creative director for larger overseas designer label -Â for example, Christopher Kane is creative director of Versace's Versus label -Â or from collaboration with high street retailers. Their own businesses are relatively small, but they have spent time building a strong brand and are therefore of interest to the big labels, who want to buy into their reputation.
"Your collection may change from season to season but your branding should remain constant"¦When your customer hears or sees your brand name, they should immediately conjure up what it stands for."
Developing your unique selling point (USP)
First, you have to choose the trading name for your new business. If you are the designer and you are aiming for the high end of the market then your own name is a good option, as you are an essential part of your brand identity. For other sectors of the market, a more generic name may be more appropriate. In this case, it can be easier to work on your 'unique selling point' (USP) before deciding on a name. Make sure you keep your target customer in mind and think about what might appeal to them and whether your name would limit your activities or your customers' expectations of what you sell. Try out potential names with friends and family to get their reactions. It's worthwhile checking that a name isn't already being used as a trademark. This is easy to do online by searching the Patent Office database. Your USP defines what your brand stands for and what makes it different from every other similar product in the marketplace. You should develop two versions of your USP:
A short sentence of around 10 words that will convey the essence of your brand in 30 seconds or less.
A longer version of around 50 words that elaborates on the mood and direction of your brand and that can be used in your press releases and marketing materials.
This leads to building a story or narrative behind your brand; this is what will ultimately differentiate you from your competitors.
"Successful brands find their way into the head and heart of customers because they have a story. Yours may focus on what inspired you to start your business, or something special about how or where the products are made."
Successful brands find their way into the head and heart of customers because they have a story. Your story may focus on what inspired you to start your business, or something special about how or where the products are made, or it could be to do with where the materials you use come from and what your aspirations are for your brand. Start looking at some big brands you like; look at their websites and read their press releases to get a sense of how they are conveying their message. To develop your USP, start to write down all the words that you think describe your designs andor products, the inspiration behind them and whom they would appeal to. You can then start to play with them until you come up with a succinct description. Again, brainstorm with friends or colleagues and ask for their feedback. Once you've decided on your name and created your USP, you can then start to think about the graphic design of your logo. If you have a graphic design background you may be planning to design your logo yourself. Otherwise, it's likely that you will want to engage a graphic designer.
Need more information on branding for your small business?
Alison's great bookÂ Design Create SellÂ is a complete guide to starting and building a small fashion label - it'sÂ everything you need to know to turn your fashion dream into a reality!Â You can buy your copy from the Enterprise Nation Bookshop from just Â£5 by clicking on the link below. [product id="56590"] Photo credits:Â Mark GrapengaterÂ (hangers),Â PhosPhosÂ (Chanel bag),Â Allen CompanyÂ via Compfight cc