Lady Gaga’s style, Lil B’s swag, and Beyonce’s showmanship; some entertainers have become so synonymous with particular characteristics that it has raised for other artists seeking notoriety and airplay. However, these associations were not a fluke!
Entertainers diligently craft their image and brand.
Once that feat is accomplished, they build on the basic concept. Even entertainers like Madonna who establish their brand around reinvention, never veer too far from what their ardent followers love about them. This is what branding is all about!
The relationship you create between your customers and your company is crucial to staying in the game — especially in the world of e-commerce.
Mastering the business of fashion
Brand identity draws in customers, keeps them coming back, and motivates them to stick with you through thick and thin.
You can probably name a dozen brands that have carved a niche for themselves by cultivating a unique brand identity, but have you ever wondered how they did it?
If you are in the fashion industry or you’ve recently started your own fashion clothing line, here’s a look at how you can garner the same level of recognition.
1. Content is social currency, leverage it
In the epoch of social media, we are what we share and this nurtures the identities of brands. If you are the inspiration for new trends and looks, you are fashion. Not only will people follow you, but they’ll buy from you.
If you’re running a fashion startup, aspiring to exploit curated fashion, you’ll need to master the art of luring people away from the fashion behemoths and stand out from competitors. After all, you are striving for your own separate identity, not to become another face in the crowd.
Take a look at the digital-driven fashion brands, such as NastyGal, selling clothing to the consumers, directly at high gross margins, with low customer acquisition and without fixed retail costs, by leveraging the power of social media.
These companies are successfully targeting the new age Internet generation with a drastically different approach. They are redefining internet retail by mastering the art of top-notch content.
They strive to do more than simply sell clothes; they sell an online fashion experience.
By exploiting the power of compelling content, these fashion retailers are extremely tech savvy and comprehend the important of leveraging the new internet and social media as a distribution and marketing channel.
After all, all brands are made and destroyed on social media. One good review can shoot you right up to the moon, a bad review with press play, and you plummet back down for a crash landing!
2. Master visual communication
When it comes to the physical fashion stores, what is the most vital element of a customer’s showroom experience? Product displays!
Store owners and visual merchandisers go out of their way to render an ethereal look to their products. Sadly, this pleasure is stripped out of the online shopping experience.
However, the advancement of social commerce, where sharing of information is becoming ever more visual, having a streamlined process for content production can more than make up for the brick and mortar shopping experience.
When posting product pictures, step into the shoes of your customers. Think about the details they want before making a purchase. Your pictures should ideally communicate as much visual information as possible to let customers make an informed choice.
Here are a few aspects to cover when presenting product photos to customers:
Fabric material: For this, you need an extreme close-up shot to capture the tiniest details. This also includes lining, seam, and stitching. Time to invest into a micro lens.
Fasteners: These are up-close shots any laces, hooks, or buttons in the ensemble.
Emblems: Cropped and zoomed shots of emblems that depicts how the embellishment attaches to the apparel.
Fabric feel: You need a lightly lit environment to take care of this detail.
Brand tag: Be sure to capture this in any picture.
Videos are also excellent mediums of communications in fashion retail, which imprint your brand into the minds of consumers. Shoot videos of regular people and models alike donning your clothes in real world situations.
British clothing brand, Honour Over Glory shot a series of promotional videos where they focused entirely on their models.
One such video, own the night, is shot in a behind-the-scenes style, depicting their designers and models having a blast while photographing images for the catalogue. Giving customers a sneak peek into your brand makes you seem more approachable.
3. Make an impact with product descriptions
Product descriptions should bestow character to your product. With social media riding the high waves as a go-to online marketing channel, fashion retailers no longer resort to writing spammy product descriptions and meta tags to gain favor with Google.
Instead, these days you can simply focus on writing vivid product descriptions and crisp meta tags to communicate the story behind your product and its value to your customers.
For example, ModCloth narrates a story with every product they sell. Somehow, they breathe life into their products to enchant shoppers.
4. Avoid selling on your homepage
Successful retailers use the homepage to engage with visitors by fostering trust and lasting relationships, and clearly communicating their message.
Leading online fashion retailers don’t jump straight to business on the homepage. Instead they introduce shoppers to their business and encourage them to experience their brand, before leaping in for the kill. Your aim is to lead customers gently toward sales!
5. Tell a story worth sharing
Your passion and excitement shouldn’t stay clandestine behind the scenes; it should be visible in your online presence. Customers appreciate transparency and they love to know who they are dealing with … the faces behind the brand.
To prevent your brand from becoming another face in the crowd, let customers see the people, efforts, and the passion behind the curtains. Start with the “About” descriptions on all of your online channels?
6. Know your customers
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough! If you are at all serious about nurturing a lifetime customer value, you have to put in efforts to know your customer closely. Online Fashion Retailers are innovating ingenious ways of assimilating customer information and capitalizing on it to provide a personalized shopping experience.
For instance, Shoedazzle discovers the shopping preference of customers in the form of a quiz before offering product recommendations.
Your aim should be to collect as much customer information as possible without overwhelming them.
7. Make it easy for customers to buy
How easy is it for customers to buy the right size, color and style? Regardless of the burgeoning popularity of e-commerce, people still take it with a grain of salt. The sheer nature of online makes it impossible to change certain aspects.
While it affords people with the convenience, there is no way to be certain the product will fit perfectly or meet their expectations. This remains a prime concern and keeps some people from shopping online entirely.
If the details aren’t handled well, it could translate into additional costs for retailers (e.g., returns, exchanges, chargebacks, etc.).
8. Build a brand culture
Explicitly define the culture. Many apparel lines fail to define the purpose of their brand (the what, who, and why they are doing it) and this is a huge mistake!
They don’t invest time and due diligence to research if what they are offering aligns with what their audience wants. Without a backstory to your brand, without a definition, and without the culture, you’ll be stuck with a ton of unsold inventory.
For instance, ClothingRIC.com positioned themselves as a dedicated discount clothing and apparel website to meet the fashion needs of real woman. With this in mind, they aim to make difficult shopping decisions burden free.
9. Shoot a promotional video
A picture speaks a thousand words, but sometimes pictures do not suffice. This is where a video showcasing your brand and products comes into play.
A promotional video is great for putting your brand message across to your audience. For example, Beyoncé revealed her “athleisure” clothing line, Ivy Park, through a series of promotional videos to share the brand story and seed awareness.
While putting together a praiseworthy promotional video may seem mind-boggling for budding brands, with the right technology and creatives at your disposal and a burst of creativity, the sky is the limit to what you can achieve.
10. Prioritize social media
Let’s face it; this is where your customers hangout and this is where you are going to connect with them. From sharing updates on Facebook and visual masterpieces on Instagram to tweeting about industry happenings, social media enables you to stay in the loop.
Feel like your posts are falling flat with little engagement? The reality is the lifespan of a Facebook post is less than 3 hours and your last tweet had it’s short and shining moment within 18 minutes.
Paying for promotion is the best way to counteract this effect. Social media ads allow you to reach a wider audience, while simultaneously targeting a specific demographic. If you want to boost your social media visibility, this is the way to go.
11. Stay visible
Simply garnering a presence on social media isn’t going to fit the bill. You need to constantly stay visible. This is where content comes in to play to drive awareness and engagement.
For instance, Modcloth has a program called Make the Cut Contest. The message is simple: you came, you sketched, and we produced! They provide a theme to their community and individuals submit ideas and sketches of wearable, creative styles that suit the theme. They award monetary prizes to the winner and name the winning product after the customer who designed it.
Strategies like this are great at making brand fans feel included and valued.
12. Personalize email marketing campaigns
Email marketing is a great relationship building tool. Smart fashion retailers create intelligent email campaigns to subtly keep their customers engaged.
Incentivize people to share their email address with you and reveal what they are looking for. This enables retailers to send deals, product recommendations, and the most targeted content to customers.
13. Stay competitive
Hone in on your unique selling points. Competiveness can take myriad forms, such as telling a brand story in a unique way, curating a personalized shopping experience, sticking to your foundation principles, or providing impeccable customer service.
Staying competitive will set you apart, strengthen customer relationships and inspire them to stay loyal.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech start-ups for years, and he has been successful with multiple business ventures such as affiliate marketing (where 98%+ of people never make money). Connect with @crawfordobrien on Twitter.
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