Branding is an important part to creating a fashion business that is recognizable, attracts paying customers and separates you from your competitors. However, even though branding is a crucial part of the game, it is also one of the most misunderstood. So many people talk about branding but don't quite understand what it means, why it's important or, even how to build a brand that is consistent across all platforms and leads to sales.
Does the idea of branding and building a brand leave a huge question mark over your head? Not to worry. Here are five branding basics to get you started:
1. BRAND AND BRANDING MEAN TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
First things first. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between the terms "brand" and "branding". Your brand is what other people think about your business and is rooted in their perception of what your business is and isn't. A good brand is memorable, trustworthy and evolving (meaning it adapts with the times in order to stay relevant and on top.) While you don’t have direct control over what people think about your business, you can help people come to certain conclusions through branding. Branding is an action. It is everything you do or, don’t do that paints a specific illustration of your business to your audience. Branding is the act of creating a perception.
2. BRANDING IS NOT JUST YOUR LOGO.
Another common mistake many people tend to make, is thinking that branding is solely about their logo, website colors, fonts and business card design when in actuality, branding is everything you do. Every element of your business is branding, from the employees you hire to the pictures and captions you post on Instagram. Whether good or bad, every business decision you make communicates a message and shapes people’s experience and views about your business.
3. A STRONG FOUNDATION = A STRONG BRAND.
Often when starting a business, people tend to jump right into designing their logo, creating a website and scheduling lookbooks that they tend to miss a key step in creating a successful business. They forget to set their brand foundation. As I mentioned, everything you do or don’t do in your business affects your customer experience so it's extremely important that you determine the kind of message you want to send your audience before you start creating your visual identity. To determine that message you have to decide who and what your business stands for. A strong foundation means having a clear understanding of your values, mission statement, brand voice, ideal customer, brand promise and story.
4. INVEST IN YOUR VISUAL IDENTITY.
Your visual brand identity is an important part of building a successful business. It communicates to your audience, differentiates you from your competition, establishes consistency and attracts your ideal customers. When your business looks good, it helps to build trust and loyalty among your audience, it increases brand awareness, helps position you among your peers, establishes credibility and leads to higher profitability.
5. SUCCESSFUL BRANDS TELL A GREAT STORY.
Stories are how we as humans connect and relate to each other. Brand storytelling has always been an important part of marketing but now, more than ever it’s become that much more vital to success. In a crowded market, often it’s not enough to have a “good” product or service. You also need a way to connect with your audience. Your story is a powerful tool that can help create a connection between your brand and your customers and is often tied to your purpose.
There’s a reason why Instagram adopted the Snapchat like video feature and called it “Instagram Stories.” In a world that’s totally over saturated with brands and companies constantly marketing themselves and trying to sell something, people crave authenticity and genuine connections.
Your story helps to give people a sense of who you are. It helps them to understand what your brand is about and if their values align with yours, it helps them to fall in love with you and become a part of your community.
Every business no matter how small, has a story. The trick is learning how to tell it in a way that evokes emotion and creates a connection. Creating a meaningful brand story is all about building something that people want to be a part of. There are many other designers, bloggers, stylists, boutique owners, etc but none of them have your story. Use your story and your experiences to your advantage.