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Let's talk about clothing brands.
All clothing has the potential to look the same. The best brands can be easily identified regardless of the trend, season or clothing. These brands stand out by having a strong identity. They consistently use the same logos, fabrics, patterns and more to help the customer recognise them. For example, when you see a check pattern you might think of Burberry. When you see three stripes you think of Adidas. When you see words in quotation marks like "RAINCOAT", you think of Off-White. Using symbols doesn't need to be difficult, it can be as easy as making your logo visible on every single item you sell. Whatever symbol, pattern or logo you use, the trick is to be consistent.
Another important concept in branding is to appeal to the customer's emotions. Psychologists have noted that most people buy products because of their emotions rather than logic. This may sound weird but if I asked you what Versace sells you might say dresses or shirts. You would be right but they also sell status. The appearance of a certain lifestyle. If you buy a Versace shirt you might actually like the shirt, but you also know that when you wear it, people form opinions about your social class and the life you live. When we buy clothing we don't just buy physical clothes, we buy into emotional associations without even realising it. This is why Ralph Lauren said, "I don't sell clothes, I sell dreams." The dream he refers to is not to own a Ralph Lauren shirt, the dream is to be in a position of wealth and power that you can easily and frequently get luxury pieces of clothing like a Ralph Lauren shirt.
There are three types of emotional associations that brands often play on:
- Emotional auto-directed beliefs (how does the customer feel when they wear the brand?)
- Hetero-directed beliefs (who is the customer when they wear the brand?)
- Membership of a lifestyle or community (what is the customer part of when they wear the brand?)
It would be criminal to write an article about fashion branding and not mention Nike. Their branding ticks all the boxes (pun intended). In fact, according to Statista, this year Nike is the highest ranked apparel brand in the world with a brand value of $32 million dollars. Just to put this in context the next leading brand (ZARA) has a value of $18 million. Nike's brand value is twice that of the next leading brand. Their products are generally made for fitness lovers, sports fans and athletes. Nike's logo is one of the most distinctive logos in the world, it is on every product they make. Their tagline 'just do it' even encourages people to do something, to be active instead of passive. Nike's mission statement is to 'bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *if you have a body, you are an athlete." Their mission statement might as well say everybody is an athlete. So how does the customer feel when they wear Nike? The customer feels inspired. Who is the customer when they wear Nike? The customer is an athlete. To solidify this concept, Nike work with some of the most popular athletes in the world like Serena Williams and Cristiano Ronaldo. This also allows them to reach a large audience and encourages sports fans to get their products. If Nike is good enough for LeBron James, it's good enough for you. Lastly, Nike has mobile apps like Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club that give its users workout plans and more. So what is the customer part of when they wear Nike? The customer is part of a sports and fitness community.
So, what should you take away from this article?
- Come up with some symbols, patterns, etc that will help people easily identify your brand and stick to it
- Think about the emotional aspect of what you are selling, how do you want people to feel when they wear your clothing?
I hope this article has been useful for anyone thinking of starting a fashion brand or anyone who has already established one.
Thanks for reading!