The fashion industry is evolving at such a pace that we could easily find ourselves lagging behind if we don’t keep pace with new customer needs.
This is why, if you’re planning on starting a fashion business in 2022, you need to make sure you’re building one which is fully in the moment.
In this post, we’re going to help you do just that by reviewing together some of the key elements of brand management that should inspire you as you build your fashion business.
Starting from the top, the first question you should ask yourself is whether your business is going to be more product, or market-oriented.
We’ll delve into this first matter in the next paragraph of this post.
Ready? Let’s go!
Market or Product?
The first question you should ask yourself as you set out to create a strong and recognizable brand is the following: are you product or market-oriented? Let’s see the difference:
A brand is product-oriented when it focuses on a product more than on its market. Brands who pursue this approach are often confident that what they are bringing to market is a product that is innovative and paradigm-shifting, or even simply very high quality.
The branding decisions that come from this orientation often focus on communicating the product’s features and attributes, as a way to explain to customers what the product does, even with one simple word.
In the context of fashion, this is not a common orientation unless we’re talking about accessories or fabrics that, because of their more physical nature, could lean more in this direction.
The reason for this is that fashion leverages all of the intangible attributes of style and heritage that help a brand be profitable.
Market orientation is therefore more common, and we’re looking into this right away.
Market orientation is focused on understanding what customers want so that the fashion firm can develop the right concept to sell.
In this case, the focus is not on the product, but more on understanding an unserved market need.
Branding decisions will focus on building a brand connected to aspirational and intangible values.
In the context of market orientation, fashion firms often need to keep their brand open-ended so as to include new and unforeseen market trends.
Having said this, before picking the name of our brand, or defining the values that we want customers to associate with our business, first we need to clarify what is the need that our product\service is looking to fulfill.
We’re going to discuss this in the next paragraph.
What’s Your Job? Functional, Social or Emotional?
When building a brand, fashion businesses used to focus most of their market research on profiling customers.
This is the approach that many marketers pursued through the “Personas” approach, which essentially suggested how you could paint a perfect picture of what your ideal customer would look like so that by looking at his\her demographic and psychographic characteristics you could gain some insights into how to better communicate the value of your brand.
This approach is now much less common, as marketers developed new key insights which completely revolutionized the way we think about marketing.
If you’d like to delve more into this theory, as presented by Prof. Clayton Christensen, here’s an article we suggest looking into: Why Jobs to Be Done Matters for Your Business.
According to Jobs to Be Done Theory, what we need to understand are not the unique features that make up an ideal customer, but instead what we need to understand – and focus on – is the job the customer is looking to get done, or the need the customer is looking to satisfy through our business.
Jobs can be broken down into three main categories:
These jobs are the simplest to carry out, as we simply need to buy a product because of its design characteristics or features. Applied to fashion these jobs usually cater to the basic needs of shielding ourselves from the weather, or maybe match color combinations. Ideally, however, brands can be more profitable if they’re able to build a brand that takes advantage of one of the other two job categories, which we’ll explore next.
Social jobs are jobs connected to the purchase behavior of customers who buy a product with the intent of gaining social currency. Some brands, because of the exclusive nature and their unique features, are able to help their customers do two more things: fit it or stand out. Fit in, as in showing belonging with a particular group or individuals, but also stand out in terms of setting yourself apart from the ‘mass’. This is a very valuable job to help your customers do, as it can yield a much higher price, as not all brands have the necessary characteristics. We delve into social currency and luxury in another post you can find here.
Last but not least we have emotional jobs. These jobs are connected to how customers feel when they are buying our products and services. Emotional jobs are all about the feelings that our customers experience because of the ownership of products that have strong emotional associations and rewards.
If a brand is able to tap into this job category, it will actually have a much easier time marketing its products and services as customers will not question the value of the offer.
According to our reasoning, however, many brands could look at these jobs and simply try to target the most profitable spot, one with the most alluring associations with a product’s functions or quality, its social currency and emotional value.
If you went ahead with this approach you would create a very expensive branding strategy, as your space would be extremely busy and noisy. As a result, your marketing expenses would be stratospherically high as your brand would have to “shout” louder than anybody else in order to get the attention of your customers.
Because of this, in terms of branding, it’s necessary to look into an additional distinction, the one between points of parity and points of difference. We’re going to look into this next.
Point of Difference, Point of Parity?
As we build our brand, we need to remind ourselves that our positioning strategy is not set in a vacuum, but is connected to the other players in our industry.
This is why in order to “escape the noise” we need to clarify how we are going to compete with the other brands according to the perceptions we built into our audience.
To analyze this concept in a more detailed manner, we’re going to explain what points of difference and points of parity are, and how they contribute to creating your unique value proposition.
Points of Parity
Your brand’s points of parity are all of the elements that allow the brand to successfully compete in the market by showing how it is able to withstand all of the standards which are expected to be met by your customers.
Points of Difference
Your brand’s points of difference are on the other hand what makes the brand unique, what makes it different. Your points of difference are a key asset to your brand, as choosing the right elements of differentiation is essential if you want to escape expensive competition.
The trouble is that it can be difficult to identify a set of unique traits that only belong to your brand. As more and more brands are attracted to the market, making a business uniquely different from the rest can be a strong challenge.
This is why, many brands are now moving towards a new way to stand out in a busy market space, by using cause-related marketing.
What’s that? You’re going to find out in the next section of the post.
What’s Your Case or Why?
As discussed, developing a brand can be daunting, as fashion markets are now so inflated and busy, that competing in a crowded marketplace can be really hard.
This is why many fashion brands decide to escape the traditional for-profit approach and try to tie their marketing strategy and brand development to social or environmental causes. This can be very effective, as it provides a whole new world of opportunities to develop a strong and meaningful brand.
The decision to go this route, however, should not be taken lightly.
Businesses who decide to be cause-related need to fully commit, and not only exploit these associations through greenwashing initiatives.
As a result, pursuing this approach can alter the way in which you’re managing your business at different levels, from simply looking at this as an opportunity to mix up your marketing campaign, to instead fully committing to the cause. We look into this topic in more detail in the post: Five Business Models to Pursue Social and Environmental Change.
The results of this strategy can be so effective, that some brands are able to use their cause-marketing orientation to completely demolish their advertising budget.
We address this topic in more detail in this post: Creating a No-Budget Marketing Strategy: How Cause Marketing Can Get You There.
Great, now that we’ve covered all bases let’s delve into our conclusive remarks.
Great, now you’re up to speed! The ones we listed are all of the most relevant steps to building a meaningful and memorable brand by taking into account the challenges that the fashion industry may provide in the process.
Once you have identified all of the most relevant features and elements connected to the brand that fully encapsulates your ambitions and desires for the fashion industry, you can move into another exciting area: fashion communication.
If you’d like to read more about this here is a resource that can help you get started: Brand Image and Communication in the Fashion Industry.
There you have it! If you’d like to explore other sources from our blog, don’t hesitate to do that. Here at 440 Industries we have a great library of free articles to delve into. Enjoy!