Updated: Jul 31, 2019
A step-by-step guide for fashion designers on the first 5 things you need to do to build an unbeatable brand for your clothing line.
I’ve noticed something from working with emerging fashion designers.
Most of them have the same frustrations when it comes to marketing and building a business out of their line. As a visual brand specialist, I work with a lot of emerging fashion designers and hear the same issues over and over again.
Any of these sound familiar?
• “I have no idea where to start when it comes to developing my brand and/or marketing for my line?”
• “I’ve spent so much money producing my line that I haven’t even budgeted for marketing or design...”
• “...or even know how much it should cost and/or what is fair”
• “I have no idea what steps are best, and in what order, to develop my brand for optimal success”
• “I have no idea how to reach my target customer”
• “I'm not sure who to trust with my brand or how to gage to know if they’re even doing a good job”
If any of these resonate with you (and I bet several do), then you’ve come to the right place.
In this post I am going to share the 5 things, in order of importance, that you can start doing today to build your brand successfully and get it out into the market, based off work I’ve done with emerging fashion designers over the years.
I know these steps work because I’ve seen them work over and over again for all different types of clients.
If you’d like more hands-on help, email me here and I’ll be happy to give you more details about how I work with clients.
Now, onto the 5 steps…
1) Start with your brand story.
First off - let’s look at what a successful brand even is so we know what these 5 steps can accomplish…
A brand is more than a marketing tool; it's the way the world perceives your company. More than just using it to sell things, the most successful brands create a powerful and defined identity for their company that is directly connected to consumer needs, environment and their emotions.
So your brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand and its main purpose is to inspire an emotional reaction from your perfect client.
This doesn’t have to be long, even a paragraph will do. But this is your direct insight into WHAT your line is and WHY you are doing it and for WHOM.
To take a deep dive into clarifying these answers, ask yourself these 4 simple questions;
1- Why did I start my line to begin with? OR Why am I so passionate about my line?
2- What am I selling (literally) + Why you believe it is unique.
3- What am I trying to accomplish with my line (many times the “who” comes out in this question).
4- Who would be the perfect person for this line? Describe them in detail.
This will help you draft a nice story for your line. One that will be the literal base of everything you do in your marketing, as it paints the picture for your perfect customer to resonate with the reasons WHY they should purchase your line.
If you want to take an even deeper dive - I’ve developed a 20 question questioner that will help guide you to uncover your WHY, WHAT and WHOM if you are struggling with developing your story. Email me here and I would be happy to send you the link.
2) Identify your visual brand.
A visual brand is your logo, color palette, typography and photo style.
Once you’ve developed your line’s story and whom you want to market to, there needs to be some research done to develop the best possible visuals that resonate with your customer and tell that story.
By doing the research idea below, it will help you uncover what your visual brand may look like;
1- Keep your eyes open - be aware of what brands you purchase, what you like about their advertising or message and how you resonate with it.
2- Develop a mood board - get back to basics and develop a mood board using cut outs from magazines, print outs and/or screen shots in a design program. Pull imagery based off of how you want to be perceived in the industry - think about photography styles, color options, logos you like, etc.
3- Google it, literally…Google the top brands you admire and start poking around through their websites and social media and see what you identity with and what you like and don't like.
Now to be clear - you are not copying these brands but simply gaining valuable insight as to how large brands make a strong uniform message throughout each piece of marketing and media they produce.
With this research, there will come clarity on how you would like to be positioned in the industry, as you will start to see the patterns.
3) Identify your brand voice.
Your brand voice is literally that - how you speak to your customers.
Are you direct? Bold? Classic and Refined?
The best way to identify your voice is to look at steps 1 and 2 above. Review how you’ve discovered how you’d like to be positioned in the market. Another rule of thumb would be to write like you speak. Truly - it comes across genuine and authentic and people resonate with that.
If you are stuck, try doing this exercise;
Ask yourself - If I were to be in front of a prospect, how would I describe my line. Write it down and notice any key describing words.
Then take key words and start to formulate what category they seem to be in “bold” “classic” “hip”, etc.
This should help give great insight into the direction of how you speak to your customers.
4) Marry the 3 steps above.
This is the icing on the cake and when crafted well, can make your brand extremely memorable.
Now that you know your lines story, how you would like your visuals developed and crafted your brands voice…they all need to live together in everything that you create for your sales and marketing approach.
I don’t mean that you need to write your brand story in every ad that you do - but I do mean that the story you’ve crafted should be apparent in your visuals and voice, in a uniform, consistent way.
Your website, social media, blog posts, advertising, marketing initiatives, should all have this same look feel and voice so that you are directly reaching your perfect customer...every time.
Okay, I know that was a lot, but we’ve reached the last tip!
5) Find your creative partner.
When it comes to developing your brand, I know first hand that the world of the start up can be daunting. There are many hats to wear.
Because it is an entirely different industry than fashion design, the process can be overwhelming, a huge learning curve and expensive.
To be successful in this you have to take your fashion designer hat off and put your business hat on.
When you align yourself with a trusted creative partner to develop your marketing assets once you have your brand locked in, you are doing your due diligence as a business owner to delegate out what you can to a professional, rather than spend your time and money trying to figure it out.
The most successful business owners do just that - know when to hire out pieces of their company in order to gain as much leverage as possible. In this case, you gain your money and time because you will be doing it right the first time around. By doing so, you will save money in the long run as you won’t find yourself re-branding a new business in a few years but gaining momentum on the one that you’ve already created.
A good thing to remember is that sales do not happen over night - it takes building a strategy and working on it in order to see the magic start to happen. If you don’t have the above locked in - your brand will be confusing and your sales will be scattered.
When hiring a creative partner, you want one that will be honest with you about the timeline, process and outcome.
To learn more about creative best practices, sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website.
Developing a brand is a truly a step-by-step process and doing the steps outlined above, in order, will help you gain your most unbeatable strong brand and launch you into the market with your unique line!
There is a bit of work on the front end, but once your get your brand locked in…it’s just about getting creative with how you tell your story over and over again to your perfect client. Which is the fun part!
These 5 step will help you do just that.
If you feel like you could use some additional help figuring out where to start and what to do, shoot me an email here and I’ll let you know how I work with clients.
Thank you for your interest and so much luck to you!
I spent hours writing this because I want to help as many emerging designers as possible. I know it’s hard out there and it’s frustrating to see so many talented people not getting the results they deserve from their marketing simply because they don’t know how best to approach it.
So, if you found this 5 step process helpful, I’d love if if you would share this post with others you know who could benefit from it directly or share it on your social media platforms.