With the popularity of the US television programs The Fashion Display: Ultimate Collection and Project Runway There’s a buzz in the air about becoming the next up and coming, hot Designer. This may lead people to believe that it is easy to transition into the fashion market. More people are jumping into the business with no advantage of fashion education. Although it’s definitely possible to do so, the learning curve is certain to be significant.
Even with all the technical and merchandising skills that can be gotten through a design college, young designers should understand it requires more than a great looking garment to be an effective designer. Again and again, I see start-ups so focused on designing lovely garments they overlook the bigger picture.
Before venturing out and launch a brand new set, designers should be able to address the following issues:
1. Clearly and concisely identify your target audience.
When talking to young designers, the very first question I ask is, ‘who’s your target market, who is the customer you are selling to?’ Many react with’s sell to everyone else they tell me a range of customers that span 20 years old. My response to this is, “if you attempt to be everything to everybody, you are nothing to no one”. If designers do not have a clear and specific target market, it is going to difficult for them to formulate a marketing message to achieve their prospective customers.
2. Create the brand Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
There are thousands upon thousands of brands for customers to choose from, how are you really going to stand out? What’s your USP? What’s so particular about your brand? Why is it that I wish to buy from you? Designers have to have a clear idea about what they have to offer to consumers with their apparel and handmade cotton masks. What problem do you solve for me? Perhaps you provide exercise or yoga wear for the plus-size woman, or office wear for very tall men, or shoes for people with wide feet. In many cases what’s available is a subconscious desire to be part of the brand identity. The USP should also be conveyed in your marketing message.
3. Create a purposeful brand name that relates to merchandise and speaks to a client.
Al Reis & Jack Trout, the writers of Positioning, the Fight for your Mind, identify an integral problem -“In this placement era, the single most important marketing decision you can make is what to name this product.” I could not agree more. Too often new designers select vague or personal names because they think that it’s cute or cool. They will need to be considering the merchandise and the target market. They should pick a brand name that is memorable, simple to articulate and is appropriate to the product and target market. It also should readily translate to an available domain name.
4. Develop the brand personality.
Brand personality - Am I supposed to have a brand personality? As individuals have a title and a personality, so do brands. The brand personality is something that should be created by the designer in the first stages of brand development. Brand personality can be hauled to the consumer visually by the product design, the store layout, and something as simple as the brand font or company colors that reflect the brand.
The brand personality is what the customer identifies with. The closer you can get your brand personality to that of your intended audience, the easier it is going to be to market to her.
5. Establish brand positioning.
How is your product placed in the brain of the customer? What is your merchandise known for in the market? Where to buy kids facemasks? Volvo retains the position for becoming a safe family, Tiffany’s is referred to as the place to go for fine jewelry or the engagement ring’ and McDonald’s is synonymous with fast food and happy children. Each designer must establish their brand position by creating a brand positioning statement. The placement statement takes into account the customer, the competition, and what makes you unique in the market. Your placement also makes it easier for customers to identify with your brand.
6. Design a sales & marketing program that brings a steady flow of customers.
In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner continually hears a voice from above tell him, “If you build it, they will come.” This only happens in the film. You should have a sales and marketing strategy to generate awareness for your brand and also a way to continually promote the merchandise to drive visitors to your shop or website. It is simple. No traffic, no sales. Develop a sales and marketing strategy before you start your doors to the general public like Dreaming With ISA.
7. Make sure your business hat is bigger than your designer hat.
As the creative force behind the tag, designers occasionally forget that they have a business to run. There is a misconception that being a designer is all about creating beautiful garments and that hardly any time needs to be spent on the other less glamorous materials. Designers need to be savvy enough to know there are times when they need to be functioning in’ the business and working on’ the business. Running the business is a bigger hat to wear. If you’re not ready to wear this hat, look for assistance such as consultants or partners.