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Simple Fashion Branding Basics for Start-Ups

Once upon a time, not that long ago, the word “logo” was synonymous with “brand.” Fast forward a couple of decades and today a “logo” is merely a shadow of a “brand,” but nowhere near what a “brand” is in its entirety. Yet, not many people seem to make the distinction and realise this, especially start-ups. Let’s talk about fashion branding basics.

Fashion Branding Basics – Some Hard Truths

All too often I see or hear of young entrepreneurs spending vast amounts of money on a logo, designed by a top designer or agency who designed the logo for [insert big brand name]. They blindly pay way over the odds, money they don’t have or that can be better spent. The end result doesn’t even scratch the surface of creating a brand. Many start-ups often talk about their “brand,” but dig deeper and ask what the brand is actually about, and I hear detailed explanations about colours, texture, product, ideas, and so on – and then they continue to share their struggles with poor sales, brand recognition, and countless other issues and problems.

I was that wingy person too, once. I almost broke off a relationship years ago over the design of a logo. I drove my creative boyfriend at the time mad with details he wasn’t getting right. But gradually, over the years of learning myself the hard way, it dawned on me.

A logo does not equal a “brand.” It is simply a drawing or a symbol that in time perhaps may come to signify more. A “brand,” on the other hand, is an amalgamation of the following parts:

  • The brand’s story;
  • The product/service;
  • How consumers feel when they buy or use the product/service;
  • What values the company stands for;
  • How the company serves its customers;
  • The expectations and experiences the product/service creates;
  • Why we buy the product/service;
  • What it says about us when we buy the product/service;
  • Why we might pay a premium; and
  • The memories the product/service creates for us as users.

Those are just a few elements of what a brand is all about. That is what turns a simple logo and a name into a brand.

Related reading: 5 No-Brainer Tips to Increase your Brand Value

Brand recognition comes with consistent marketing – consistency across a whole plethora of channels: from the colours and design details used in the logo, packaging and product, to the set of values that the product stands for, how those values and brand story are communicated to the public through the various media channels, and the experience they create for the end user, through to the aftercare service available, and so on. Pick any big brand and I am sure you will be able to discuss at length every one of the above points and often spot it from afar.

The second brand requirement is to be desirable – for your customers to continue to want to buy or use your product above any other. To achieve this level of desirability, many elements need to be in place all at the same time – the quality of product or service, the right price, the right target audience, the overall experience and the availability of the product. We live at a highly competitive time when we make choices that speak about who we are and what we stand for, and the products and services we buy into are an extension of our personalities.

To create and establish a true brand takes time and dedication (money helps too, of course). Start-up entrepreneurs often get carried away tinkering obsessively with the logo and packaging, website and social media, and forget about all the other components and the consistent thread they need to establish between the visual and sensory elements, the tangible and intangible alike.

But perhaps the common challenge all entrepreneurs face is the little detail that while we may have various degrees of knowledge and experience or simply an opinion on branding, most of us were not involved in a “hands-on” kind of way in building a brand until we started our own businesses. And while we may be in the best position to create our own brand, we also have to run the day to day of the business and wear many other hats. Often it is the things that don’t scream for our attention that are vitally important but get overlooked.

But don’t let that stop you from starting! Start before you think you are ready, do what you think is right. And as Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.