Are you facing strong competition in your fashion niche? Discover how to develop a branding strategy for your fashion brand in 4 steps.
Developing a branding strategy for your fashion brand can be daunting. Despite all of the excitement that comes with bringing a new product to market, it can be really difficult to devise a clear and actionable plan. There are just so many different options and opportunities that it can be really hard to identify the right path to tackle the inner power of your products and services.
Moreover, the fashion industry is very crowded and noisy, and if your positioning strategy leads you to occupy the wrong spot in the market it can be extremely expensive to get your voice heard out of the noisy competition. You can end up having to ‘shout’ louder than your competition to get your message heard and even then, customers may not be able to tell you apart unless there is something quite distinctive setting you aside.
But hey, not all is lost! In this post, we’re going to help you by laying out a straightforward and very effective guide to developing a go-to-market strategy for your brand. Our strategy will help you:
- Understand what are the features of your product and service that can be used to create a USP or unique selling proposition.
- Study your competition, and strategically choose, how you want your customers to see you.
- Identify your perfect customer, as someone who is actively looking for your products and services to solve their problems and fulfill their needs.
- Plan out a communication strategy that will connect you with your audience and filter out all the possible leads.
Applying our formula will allow you to get to the heart of your USP (unique selling proposition) and understand how to attract to your business a customer so aligned with your values and offerings that he\she won’t even care about the price tag.
Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and let’s take a sneak-peek preview of what this strategy is all about.
In this post, we’re going to cover the following ideas. Enjoy!
- Build a Keyword Cloud for Your Brand
- Determine the Position of Your Brand in Your Customer’s Mind
- SWOT Analysis
- PESTLE Analysis
- Perceptual Map
- Identify Customer Segments that Connect to Your USP
- Connect With Your Customers By Solving their Problems
Here’s the game plan, or a little executive summary:
- We’ll first break down your brand into keywords that describe its characteristics and build strong associations that convey your product’s features, your collection’s vision, and your values as a fashion brand.
- Then, you’ll identify a set of unique qualities that make your brand stand out by comparing and contrasting it to its competitors and by using a set of analysis frameworks such as the SWOT, PESTLE, and the Perceptual Mapping tool. These tools will help you simplify your keyword ‘cloud’ into 3 to 5 unique associations that only your brand can claim.
- Finally, we’ll progress to identify your perfect customer, the one who regards your added value as the most important choice criteria in his\her purchase decision.
- We’ll then discuss how you can build an inbound marketing strategy that revolves around seeding bespoke content on the internet. We’ll advise on how to create content that is designed to connect your band to your ideal customers by helping them solve their problems. You guessed it, some of these problems will be perfectly solved by your products and services.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Build a Keyword Cloud for Your Brand
To build a successful strategy for your fashion brand, first, you’ll need to define what your brand is all about.
Now, I know that a brand is usually defined as a promise of consistency but in fact, your brand is a trigger.
Your brand is a vehicle to summon a set of emotional, instinctual emotions that bypass our rational brain. A brand is capable of pushing customers into a mindset where the conventional risk-reward relationships are bypassed and customers feel as if buying a product is not about ownership, it’s a matter of identity.
Not all brands can always create this emotional connection, but certainly, all brands try to build a set of associations that can trigger profitable customer actions.
The first thing you need to do then is building a keyword map that conveys your brand’s essence. Use your train of thought and build an association map that creates a list of words that you would like to be associated with your company.
Ideally, you should be able to also use your current customers as a sounding board. Moreover, you can create focus groups, to explore your customer’s perceptions and build a broad spectrum of adjectives, nouns, and ideas that will allow you to pinpoint some unique and distinctive associations that set your brand apart.
These keywords could be anything: a country of origin, a technical feature, the quality of the material, the style of clothing, the social significance of your collection, how customers feel when their experience your brand, etc. Create as many associations as you can and then test them against your colleagues or customers to see which ones are already ingrained in your brand and which ones aren’t.
If you can’t find any association which is unique to your brand, start creating it.
To help you identify which are characteristics you should bet on using to craft your branding strategy, some of the following business analysis tools can help. Let’s look into each to get some more information.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This framework simply displays four quadrants that allow us to list elements that can help us identify what the brand is good at, what is missing, what opportunities can it seize, and what challenges it can expect. This tool is useful to look into some traits that can further advise you in terms of what makes your brand different, and what it can offer that is unique. The opportunities quadrant could also be completed by looking at new trends which are shaping the industry and could indicate how your brand could be an ‘early entrant’ in a new niche or trend.
Speaking of trends, there are so many to consider that to assess how your brand should position itself in relationship to new tendencies, we’ll use an entirely new framework.
The PESTLE framework is not focused on your brand, as much as on the environment in which it operates. PESTLE is an acronym that stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors that are shaping your industry of impacting your competitive environment.
By comparing your SWOT and PESTLE analysis you can better refine your understanding of what your brand stands for and how it can position itself based on its capabilities and the current zeitgeist or spirit of the time.
Connecting your brand to larger or shorter trends is important as a fashion brand (even a heritage one) needs to be current and meaningful for the moment, and in this sense, a trend analysis of your brand needs to conjugate its uniqueness with what contemporary customers and society are looking for in a particular season, or period of time.
Finally, we’re able to represent our analysis visually, so that it can become more tangible and debatable with our team.
It’s now time to build one or more perceptual maps. Let’s create four quadrants and let’s position our brand based on different sets of parameters.
A perceptual map helps you visualize the perceptions of customers or potential customers about your brand and helps you understand how consumers see the strengths of competing products in a particular market.
By breaking down two sets of characteristics at a time we’ll be able to see how your brand can use one of its unique features to set itself apart and create some space around it.
If we compare price (cheap to expensive) to quality (low to high) we’ll see that pretty much every single quadrant will be busy with the competition. However, if we have identified something unique about our brand, we’ll be able to cut a cross-section of the market where our brand may stand alone and have a lot of space to grow.
In the example below, for instance, the expensive and high-performance quadrant is very crowded and as a result, these brands will have to spend a lot of money in marketing to stand out. Converse, on the contrary, because of its unique fashionable identity finds itself in a space that allows it to build strong relationships with its customers because of a trait that defines it as unique. Converse has invested in creating a brand that blends fashion, sportiveness, and price in a unique way and as a result, its branding strategy allows it to be perceived in a unique way by its customers.
2. Determine the Position of Your Brand in Your Customer’s Mind
Now, based on the tools we have discussed you should be able to have an exact idea of what your brand is about. Even if your brand may be in a space where there is a lot of potential competition, by evaluating its strengths and opportunities you can identify some traits that make it unique.
By using this approach you can make sure that your brand can still be top-of-mind for certain types of customers who are looking exactly for you and for what your brand has to offer.
On the contrary, if despite all of the work you’ve done, there is nothing that seems to make you stand out, then it’s time to pick a niche. Pick a particular dimension of your brand that you think is well-aligned with your business’ values and products and go for it.
Unless you can identify a specific battle, a specific ‘Why’ that makes your business different, then you’re up a very steep mountain to climb. On the contrary finding the right trait, quality, or feature that makes you different, will put you on the path to a strong branding plan.
Now that you can spell out what makes you unique, it’s time to identify the customer segments that will find so much value in what you offer that price will be nothing but a technicality.
Great. It’s not time to talk about customers.
3. Identify Customer Segments that Connect to Your USP
The point of your branding strategy is to connect your products and services to customer segments that are going to choose your brand because of their opportunity to find in it something that can’t be found elsewhere.
Customer segmentation is a complex topic, but if you’d like to learn more about it, in this post we’re delving into all of the relevant details.
What you need to do is look for specific customer segments that can be connected to the value you are offering based on their characteristics.
These characteristics can be demographical, psychographic, or behavioral (based on their patterns and habits).
Only by identifying which specific customer profiles connect to your brand because of their needs, you can understand how to reach them and make them your own.
Our favorite approach to understanding who these customers are and what is their motivation is Jobs to Be Done, which is discussed in this article.
As a result, your branding strategy will aim to achieve one of these three objectives:
- Acquiring new customers.
- Better retention of existing customers.
- Acquisition of customers who are now loyal to other brands.
Either way, you need to build a communication plan to reach your audience, and that’s what we are going to discuss next.
4. Connect With Your Customers By Solving their Problems
How will your customers know about your products and services? Well, there are two approaches to building a marketing strategy for your clothing brand: you can go for an outbound or inbound marketing approach.
An outbound marketing strategy revolves around creating a message so loud that anyone can hear it, and then hope that within that larger audience, some of your target customers will respond and act on your message. This is not wrong in principle, but it’s extremely expensive. This approach leads companies to promote fairly undifferentiated messages that don’t connect to any specific customer type and customers will be broken into bigger chunks.
Inbound marketing instead is about seeding content that addresses your customer’s problems and then sells your product as an ideal solution. The bigger the problem, the bigger the budget to solve it.
In this case, the segmentation can be extremely detailed and minute, so that a brand can even afford to cater to the needs of a very small niche, which shares specific elements. Through the power of the internet, you’ll then be able to serve them, wherever they may be.
Understanding your customer needs is essential not only to build an authentic connection with him\her but also to understand how your products can be developed and bettered to fit exactly what your customers are looking for.
What is the best way to create content that connects to your customer? Should you write blog posts? Use social media or develop an ads campaign? The options are many, so which one is the best for your brand?
Well, this is a big question, but still, one we’re addressing at length in this post.
Great! Now that we’ve covered our strategy in detail, let’s move on to draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In these 4 steps, you’ve been able to delve deep into your brand’s essence to capture what makes it unique.
You’ve identified the strengths and opportunities that can inspire its growth and you’ve connected its value to the customer types that will appreciate what it brings to market.
On top of all of this, you’ve identified a strategy that lays the foundations of your communication plan by identifying your customer’s pain points, providing actionable solutions, and positioning the brand in your customer’s top-of-mind. Congrats!
If you’d like to follow the next steps to bringing your vision to your customers, in this post we’re looking into how to implement this strategy with a content marketing media plan.