Fancy producing prototypes of your new product, having it critiqued by a panel of seasoned mentors and getting it immediately sold to the three biggest retailers in your industry? In our ‘fast food culture’ where everything happens at hyper speed, this is about the quickest validation you can get.
This make-feedback-sell format forms the model for Fashion Star, the latest fashion designer reality competition in America. And it’s quite addictive. The clothes that the budding designers churn up are immediately bid upon by three of the world’s top retailers – Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M. If you don’t sell to any of the 3 bidders, you risk getting booted off the show.
With two weeks until the finale, one of the most important lessons for the designers was branding. To become a bona fide fashion designer, you need a strong brand campaign. A single image that captures what the designer and the clothes are all about. A single piece, a single image that would make people want to find out more about who the designer is and what the collection is about, the story behind the brand. Some designers understood that and translated their brand effectively in their ads, earning kudos from both the mentors and the buyers. Those that did not understand what a brand means and who they are as a brand, failed to sell to the buyers and disappointed the mentors.
Much like what we face in the real world, isn’t it?
Your brand is not just your product or service, although you need a product of genuine, relevant value to firstly survive in the business. Your brand includes the people working with you, the brochures you hand out, the way your store looks, the type of customers you attract and how you handle complaints. Your brand is about who you are, what your business is about and what you and your business stand for.
It is about making a statement, and standing by it.
Yes, you would isolate some people with your brand. By making a choice about who you are and what your business is about, you will find that there are certain groups of people who would not like you, or are not interested in what you do at all. And that’s ok.
It’s ok because no one can afford to target everyone. Coca-Cola is valued at $74 billion and might seem to be made for every single person in the world, but even with Coca-Cola’s deep pockets, they cannot afford to target the entire world population, and neither would it make sense to do so. Coca-Cola is about inspiring creativity, passion, optimism and fun. It is not about exclusiveness, premium ingredients or winning the race. Coca-Cola made a stand on who they are and what they are about; that is their positioning.
By targeting and attracting like-minded customers, your brand is focusing on those who can relate to your brand, and are most likely to buy and use your product, making it an effective use of your branding and marketing ringgit.
When you have a great, relevant product, fully understand your brand, and communicate that well to your target market, you will earn appreciation and loyalty from them, generating satisfaction and purchases. Just as Saks Fifth Avenue said to the winning designer, “we like you. We really, really like you.” And she won a $6 million order from the top three retailers in the world.
She made a statement about her designs. What is your statement about your business?
Julia Koh is the Executive Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd and is already a fan of some of the winning designs.