I have a confession to make: a few years ago, I thought of launching a fashion brand myself. So I started to look for information. I read books and books. I attended a few classes given by fashion consultants. I subscribed to tons of blogs. But none of the information out there was good enough. It was either too theoretical, too specific, too general, or too basic. I felt so frustrated. None of the books and blogs out there was able to tell me exactly how to create a fashion brand and what concretely to start with.
What is step one? The collection? The website? A Facebook account? The prototype? Company registration? I had to put all the puzzle pieces together to understand what to begin with.
So here is what I learned out of this. Before designing your collection, before prototyping, there’s one thing you absolutely need to do.
Have you ever tried to compare a failed beginner fashion brand to a successful one? It is an interesting exercise to do.
The successful brand conveys a certain feeling. It has beautiful pictures. The colors are harmonious. The tone used in their posts fits perfectly with the pictures.
On the opposite, you certainly have seen one of those less successful awkward looking beginner brands (. The pictures are blur. The photo backgrounds are sometimes cluttered and busy. On one brand’s website, I could even see a funny person waving behind the garment. The so called fashion piece is not ironed properly. They use the word chic in their communication and yet it screams that the people who designed this never ever set foot in anything chic. Do you see what I mean?
The reason why the successful brand is able to convey a certain feeling is because they threw a brand concept before anything else. In order to avoid condemning your brand to a big fail, you absolutely need to start with one thing:
Branding DNA defines the personality of your brand, what makes it truly unique. It can be built in six main steps that we are going to break down hereafter. If you follow those steps, you can avoid shooting yourself in the foot and launch your brand the smart way.
#1 – Have an undeniably strong physical signature
Your logo. Does it tell your brand story? Does your font in your logo correspond to the feeling you want to share?
Which colors represent you? Do they fit with one another?
Is there a symbol that you constantly use as a general thread? Does this symbol mean anything vital to your brand?
What about the shape and cut of your products? You should make sure your silhouettes remain cohesive as a whole.
For the use of which fabrics or seam will you be famous for? Is there any specific treatment that you submit your fabric to? I once worked with a designer who buried the fabric before using it. This became her signature. Maybe you have something similar to say? It is okay not to but if you want to stay classic, then go 100%.
Find an answer to all those questions.
And learn from the best: see what Chanel did with their visual identity.
#2 – Flaunt a strong brand personality
If your fashion brand was a person, how would you describe it?
#3 – Refer to an easily recognizable cultural background
College? Manhattan NYC? California beach lifestyle? Classic British? Marais district in Paris? Hippie?
Make it fit with the previous elements and have the brand cultural background show in your photographs.
#4 – How should the customer feel when wearing your brand?
Empowered. Confident. Comforted. Happy. Audacious. Free. Melancholic.
Find that feeling and suggest it in your communication.
#5 – Give an obvious impression
Which impression should a customer wearing your brand leave on other people?
Of course, always be careful to remain congruent in your approach.
If you want to make an impression of high sophistication and trend awareness, make sure that the physical elements of your fashion brand are chosen this way. In this case for instance, avoid cheap looking fabric and go for cuts and shapes that say trendy. You cannot just name the word “chic” (or “mode” in the case of the picture below) and expect it will cover the visual mismatches.
Cohesion is everything.
#6 – Find your own voice to interact with your audience
You will need to find the voice to speak to your customers. Set an easily recognizable tone that defines you, to communicate with them.
This is where you can beat the big fashion corporates: be yourself.
As previously stated, the tone should be in line with the other brand DNA elements. For example, if you set your décor in the French high society, make sure not to use slang. On the contrary, if you go for a street style brand from a popular neighborhood, try not to sound stuck up.
In some cases, you can mix two opposite cultures together but it should be part of your fashion statement from the start. For example, artists such as Pharrell Williams made a strong fashion statement mixing street styled garments with dandyesque felt hats and extremely well-tailored jackets.
#7 – Make it all work perfectly well together
In my opinion, this is the most important piece of advice I can give you once you end this exercise.
Be cohesive. For the sake of this exercise as well as in the long term.
#8 – Zero concession on the quality of visuals and photos
Your general impression needs to be generated by choice, not by accident.
So if you start in the fashion industry, even as a small brand, you need to raise your level of expectation (as we explained in a previous article). Since looks are (almost) everything in fashion, it does have to look stunning.
Always have strong well-made visuals that respect the 6 branding elements listed above. Nice free tools such as Canva.com offer very good quality for example if you cannot afford Photoshop.
Also work with a good photographer who is able to translate the emotion you aim at in pictures.
I know it comes at a certain cost, unless you have a nice well-intentioned friend who gets what you are into. However I assure you: this is not the area where you can afford lowering your standards.
Some of the brands I work with were dead broke but they always found a way to have amazing looking pictures and visuals.
So you have absolutely no excuse with that one. Seriously!
Did you find this article interesting?
Find more in our free guide with the 5 steps to go through to create your fashion brand. It also includes a checklist to guide you through your fashion brand DNA definition.
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