One of the best compliments I've received since starting Laptops & Smalltalk (aside from how much it's already helped designers tighten up their marketing strategies and grow their businesses) is that when people see a photo on their Instagram explore feed or a post on Facebook they automatically know it's from Laptops & Smalltalk. They recognize our brand identity and know it's us.
Prior to our launch, I spent a good amount of time defining exactly what I wanted our brand identity to be. I spent time thinking about who our audience is and how we could create an image that they could identify with. I thought about the vibe I wanted L&S to portray and the voice I wanted it to have.
All of this behind the scenes work has resulted in a brand identity that is recognizable among our audience. People recognize us and consequently, we stand out of the crowd. We've been able to build a community around our brand because people know what to expect from us and want to be apart of what we're creating.
In this post, I'm going to share with you four ways that you too can brand your fashion business to attract and appeal to your target customer and stand out of the crowd. There are many fashion designers, boutiques, makers, etc in this industry. Having a strong brand identity is key to standing out of the crowd and building loyal customers. Let's get started!
First things first, let's define what brand and branding actually are. Although these two words are related, many people tend to get confused about what they actually mean. A brand is what other people think about your business, product or service. A brand is a collection of expectations, memories, experiences, feelings, and stories that all play a role in a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Because your brand is essentially someone else’s opinion, you don’t have direct control over your brand. You can’t tell someone what to think about your business, however, you can help them come to a positive conclusion about your business through strategic branding.
Branding is an action. It is everything you do (or don’t do) that paints a specific illustration of your business to the world. Branding is the act of creating a perception. It’s everything you put into the world that works to build recognition, loyalty, and trust. Many people associate branding with logo and website design, and although this is partly true, they fail to fully understand branding in its entirety. Branding is everything you do. It's your customer service, your shipping policy, the tone you use in your blog posts, everything. It's anything you do that gives your audience and impression (good or bad) about your business.
Before you start working on building your brand identity it's so important that you know who your audience and customer are. I talk about this often but it's SO IMPORTANT!
You always need to create with a specific target customer in mind. Your customer is more valuable than any other component in your business. You can have a flawless production strategy and have awesome manufacturing and materials resources but, if no one is buying your product, it really doesn’t matter. When you know who your customer is you can create the type of brand identity (through strategic branding) that will attract the customers most likely to buy and appreciate your product.
So now that you understand the difference between brand and branding and you know that in order to create a strong brand identity you have to first start with knowing who you're trying to attract, here are 4 ways you can brand your fashion business:
What are you trying to tell your audience? When working with clients, I refer to “brand message” as what’s most important about your business and what you want people to know about it. Your message in many cases is who you are what you do and why you’re different. Everything you do should reflect your overall message. For example, our message is that we educate and support the fashion community by providing early stage strategic planning, business strategies, tools and resources to bridge the gap between business and emerging fashion. Everything we do from the events we host to our blog topics to our posts on Instagram reflects this message. What is your message?
Language is a big part of how people perceive your business. For us, our writing style is pretty casual and informal because we want people to be able to connect with us and to feel as though we are approachable and relatable. We also understand that it’s a whole lot easier to understand business and marketing strategy without the complicated business jargon.
The language and tone that you use whether posting something on Facebook or Instagram or the “about” page on your website is an example of your brand personality and voice. A good way to figure out your business voice is by asking yourself, if you had to describe your brand as a person, what characteristics come to mind?
3. VISUAL identity.
Another way to brand your fashion business is by the colors, fonts, images and visual guidelines that best represent your business. For example, our visual identity is a minimalistic vibe. Our main colors are black and white with a splash of color every now and then to spice it up.
Once you've decided your message, your voice and how you want to visually portray your business, it's important to stay consistent. In fact, consistency is what creates your brand and builds credibility. Businesses that haven’t taken the time to establish their foundation often confuse their potential customers with mixed messages because they themselves, don’t really know what they’re marketing. Stay consistent.
Want to drive deeper into how to brand your fashion business? We wrote. "Building a Fashion Brand" specifically for fashion entrepreneurs who want to build a brand that is recognizable to their ideal customer.
From how to define your target customer and determining your core values (and why it's important) to how to use your story and message to build customer loyalty and trust, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to build the foundation for a cohesive brand.
If you feel lost in your brand and not sure what to do to move forward, if you feel like your voice is getting lost in the crowd, and you feel overwhelmed, frustrated and completely stuck and wonder if you have what it takes to run a successful business, THIS is for you!
ClIck here to check it out!