Since 2010 there have been a huge number of new apparel brands cropping up. Whether this boom was brought about by ease of access to affordable printers or by expansion aided by social media we will never really know, but in this cut-throat market there are fortunate missteps a brand can make and terrible mistakes that are difficult to recover from. Since the start of RUDE Magazine we have seen scads of slip-ups which could easily be avoided, some of the most common are the easiest to side-step.
1. Centerpiece? ME!
This is the killer for most brands and something that seems to be surprisingly common starting out. It’s hard not to want to be the center of attention, after all it is your brand right? The more you bring focus to yourself the less attention your brand has. Your customers will associate every shot, product picture and advertisement with your brand. Your target market will have a difficult time of relating to your product because they can’t relate to your personal image.
While using your brand to promote your career as a DJ and your hand crafted yard decorations may seem lucrative, staying true to your brand provides your customer base a fuller, more robust picture of what your brand is about. This is why big stores try to get neutral models for photo-shoots and commercials. If consumers see the same cocky guy with a liquor bottle in all of your picture it’s likely they will not feel your brand is for them.
Do: Grow and Show Diversity
- People strive to be individuals, showing your brand accommodates diversity while staying true to its image will capture a large audience and make your brand feel individualistic yet inclusive
Don’t: Spotlight Yourself
- Covering your Facebook fan page with pictures of yourself may distance you from your target market (unless you’re Oprah, in which case you can disregard this)
- Gaining followers on your personal twitter account will not lead you or your brand to success
2. Bottles with MODELS!
No matter how good hearted and pure your brand is when you start out the thought of models and fame is bound to cross your mind. Frequenting bars using your brand as a pickup line is like playing with fire. Promising a model spot to a someone who’s good looking doesn’t mean they’ll be reliable or do your product justice, you may be left with an awkward situation and a heap of terrible photos. Starting a clothing company with the goal of getting someone nude on camera may ultimately lead to a reputation as a pervert. Keep in mind every failed attempt to pursue the opposite sex is one more person that may have something negative to say about your brand.
Do: Stay professional
- You are the face of your brand: Leave people with a good impression
- Make connections: You never know how valuable a single customer may be
- Keep in mind that modeling is a profession for a reason, the object is making your product look good and it’s not as easy as it appears.
Don’t: Mix business with pleasure
- Even if your girlfriend or friends can model (which is unlikely) relationships can go awry and there’s nothing worse than seeing your products on someone you can’t stand.
3. Insert Lyrics HERE’
This has been a HUGE trend lately and there are more than 100 companies selling shirts with Kanye, Drake, and Wiz Khalifa lyrics on them. While grabbing a chorus from your favorite song and slapping it on a shirt may do something to showcase a song writer’s creativity it doesn’t to much to demonstrate the creativity of your own brand. You may pull in a quick buck from a few customers but in the long run you’ll have oodles of shirts with “Call Me Maybe” scrawled across the chest taking up space with little chance of another sale. Songs that are popular now will soon lose recognition along with the clothing that quotes them, as a result this does little to nothing to build consumer’s loyalty to your brand.
Do: Take inspiration from music
- Create art and graphics inspired by songs
- Capture the feel of a song: The clothing industry loves and is inspired by music. Capturing a song’s feel and putting your brand’s unique style to it is what owning a brand is all about.
Don’t: Surf for Fonts and call it a day
- Sites like ‘Dafonts’ are a great place to grab awesome fonts to enhance your creativity but a word document does not lend itself to a successful design.
From the day your brand launches you’ll be bombarded by the likes of; friends, bands, athletes and models for sponsorship. You’ll quickly discover that sponsorship in the clothing industry basically means giving someone free stuff for a fairly limited amount of exposure. Many companies and businesses, in turn openly advertise the groups they sponsor. This move may give customers much more information about your brand than you ever intended.
By showing that you are sponsoring a local band or model with limited reach customers associate your brand with your sponsor’s image, quality and size. For instance sponsoring your neighbor’s garage band “Heavy Metal Dragon Death Kick” you may be letting your potential customers know who your targeting, which will likely lead them to the conclusion that your brand isn’t for them.
Do: Encourage discounts for exposure
- If you’re contacted for sponsorship, it’s great to give a discounts and opportunities for people who will put your name out there in pictures, retweets and shares on Facebook. Groups looking for exposure will understand a give and take relationship.
- Remind people where your product came from: your money, time and hard work is going into building a brand which is near impossible to do without sales.
Don’t: Flood Facebook
- Posting and sharing people who support you is mutually beneficial but don’t give immensely more than you get (both in sales and exposure)
- Give people who wear your band exclusive exposure: Diverse customer and sponsored images speak to a larger market.
5. Proud to be local!
This is a common mistake made by the most sensible of people and even some who have taken business classes. Starting local and growing your brand to international status makes sense both in finance and your ability to reach customers. In some cases starting local is an acceptable move but the internet and world-wide access to social networking have made it very easy to reach out to a larger audience.
Keeping your product local alienates a vast amount of people you can potentially reach both nationally and internationally. Staying focused on the market as a whole also does quite a bit to provide inspiration and to keeping a brand on top of the newest trends. We have seen tons of brands produce apparel based on area-codes, sports teams and love for their city or state, which is great but once your city of 150,000 have seen the product and only 5% of the population are interested where can you go from there?
Do: Start Local, Think global
- Try selling at local markets, but keep in mind a bigger picture and a broader audience
- If you do make a local shirt try to incorporate more of your brands style while appealing to your whole state or area with your brand’s unique twist.
Don’t: Stick to the norm
- We <3 (insert state here) shirts have been done to death, don’t go generic and make something only a tourist would grab
- If you dump your capital into something that may appeal to a select few it can be detrimental to both your brand and your wallet.
Check out our previous articles!
- How to Prevent a Web Design Shelf Life
- About Face – What Does Your Font Say About You?
- Great Food for Thought: How Designers Hit The Wall
- The Use of Curves in Modern Design
- How to Improve the Conversion Rate of Your Landing Page
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