Once you have created a winning brand and launched your clothing brand, the next biggest challenge (besides making sure that your collections are getting made on time and within budget) is to market your creative clothing brand.
These days, unless you have a ton of money, the best way to start promoting your apparel brand is via digital marketing and social media engagement. In fact, more and more people are buying clothing online and so it is so much easier than trying to reach your target audience via retail and traditional outlets.
Although the topic of marketing your clothing brand ideas is vast and needs a series of in-depth articles to really do it justice, I decided to start the conversation in this post with just 5 killer ideas that you can start implementing in your marketing right away.
In future episodes of this series, I will take a deeper look into the vast landscape of promoting and marketing your business and the process to build your clothing brand. If you are wondering how do I write an advertisement for a clothing brand then look no further as I discuss various aspects of advertising your clothing brand.
Case Study: With this Indian fashion brand, we created a superb brand strategy, brand name, tagline, brand identity, and website design. As you can see the tagline is catchy and positions the brand away from the competition.
Idea #1: Create A Catchy Tagline
The one thing that you can do right now and create a differentiation factor for your brand is to come up with a tagline, slogan or rallying cry that would connect emotionally with your target market. For example, if you are targeting a female audience who loves to travel, you can think of ideas to rally them on a common cause. This could be freedom in travel. Or perhaps the empowerment that one gets by traveling around the world. So something like “Travel With Attitude” or “Wear The Power” could be a great tagline that is catchy and also add a different dimension to your core brand. Brainstorming tagline ideas is as important as working out brand name ideas for the success of your online clothing brand. In fact, your brand name is critical for any fashion marketing strategy.
Here are some examples of great tag-lines of clothing line companies:
Levi’s – A Style For Every Story
A great example of a clothing business talking about stories and storytelling. With this slogan, Levi’s is tapping into the fact that every one of us has stories in our lives and they have a style to match each one. It is tough to market such abstract brand messages but Levis has done is quite well due to their legacy and history. Even if you are starting out, you should focus on the stories of your customers and their world view.
Alexandra – Clothes that mean business
Alexandra is a brand that specializes in workwear clothing. And their tag-line points that out in no uncertain terms. You want to mean business, wear Alexandra! However, the logo design may seem to be misaligned as the font used is very relaxed and there is nothing business like with it.
Jantzen – All girls are gorgeous in Jantzen
Swimwear pioneers, Carl Jantzen, Roy, and John Zehntbauer started Jantzen in 1901 and did not have a strong slogan till the 1960s when they launched their “Just Wear a Smile and a Jantzen” campaign. They followed this with another gem – “It Must Be Magic” in the 1990s and then the latest one “All girls are gorgeous in Jantzen” which is a sublime slogan that positions them neatly into the noise market. You can see their logo design is also very vintage and whimsical with a cartoon like icon. Check out their website to learn more about the brand history.
Diesel – Be Stupid
“Be Stupid” is a campaign launched by Diesel in 2010 that encourages consumers to take risks and move beyond the smart and sensible track for life. This is an evocative slogan and would only suit brands that use negative marketing as their go-to strategy. Clavin Klein tried in a marketing campaign in 2016 where they had a tag line “I _____ in my Calvins” which did not bode well due to lack of creativity or wit. Evocative marketing requires creativity.
Calvin Klein – Nothing comes between me and my Calvins
A humorous slogan that also connects distinctly with the audience. On the one hand, it makes one nod their head and think that is true how they feel and on the other, they make one think that perhaps they too should feel like that about their Calvins! Brilliant marketing strategy. As mentioned above, not all Calvin Klein campaigns or slogans work. In fact, after the Brook Shields adverts and the later sleazy campaigns, most of Calvin Klein’s marketing campaigns have diminishing returns.
Lee. The jeans that built America
Here we see the concept of brand heritage come into play as Lee announces to the world that Lee jeans were what almost everyone used to wear as they built the American railroads, towns, cities and more. Heritage branding is very powerful but should be done very carefully. The message should be crystal clear and focus on communicating the power of heritage in the modern world.
Idea #2: Use Social Media To Tell Your Story
In later episodes of this “market your clothing brand” series I will talk in-depth about each of the major social media platforms. Here I will just write a short intro. Everyone knows the importance of social media in marketing their brands. But the difficulty comes in not knowing how to use social media management effectively. The ROI of social media boost campaigns is very low – at least in the short term and depends heavily on the type of content you put out there. Unless you are in the long game, it would seem that time and money are wasted on social media.
The best way to approach social media as a marketing tool is to consider it as a storytelling medium. In fact, starting a clothing line starts with the brand story.
So how do you do that?
Construct a robust brand story and then think of ways to tell that story on your social media channels. This means that every post, tweet, share, or like has to align with your brand story and express the personality of your fashion brand in one way or the other. Express your clothing design ideas on your social media in the form of a story.
For this to happen you would have to formulate your brand story as a series of expressive ideas. These should have the same kind of unique personality as your clothing designs.
Here are a few examples of great brand stories by some popular fashion brands:
Everlane – Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.
This brand tells the story of ethical factories, the finest materials, and radical transparency. A lot of fashion brands claim they use the finest materials but most do not talk about the factories they use, the conditions in those factories, and possible exploitation. This is where the story of radical transparency comes out and Everlane uses this story to position itself squarely in the minds of the ever-growing percentage of people becoming eco-conscious and looking for sustainable and responsible commerce.
This is what they say on their about page about their differentiation:
“We spend months finding the best factories around the world—the same ones that produce your favorite designer labels. We visit them often and build strong personal relationships with the owners. Each factory is given a compliance audit to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and the environment. Our goal? A score of 90 or above for every factory.”
This eyewear brand tells the story of how it was created to fight the status quo of expensive eyewear and how one company held a monopoly over the market. This is what they say in their own words about their value proposition:
“By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, we’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.”
They continue this story by supporting the non-profit organization called VisionSpring and distributing a pair of glasses-free for every one pair sold.
Lets look at a brand that is quite different to the above ones. Chubbies sells shorts. It is a very quirky and fun brand with a brand story that is fun and does not take itself seriously. Chubbies believes in a lot of things but you can get an idea of how their quirky they are when they say “We believe in our fathers – they led the way; we are but revolutionaries standing on the shoulders of amazingly mustachio’d giants in proper length shorts”. Their social media posts are also quirky. They post famous people in funny little shorts.
Idea #3: Launch Your Brand With A Giveaway Campaign
Giveaway campaigns are very powerful and if done properly can result in a ton of exposure for your clothing website or shop during the first 4 weeks of launch. During this critical initial period, it is all about gaining brand exposure. Most businesses look for sales and do not think of the bigger picture. Don’t get me wrong. Sales are important but during launch and even later on, brand exposure should trump short-term sales.
Come up with unique ideas for giveaways. This could be your own products or other prizes. The important thing is that you should promote the giveaway campaign heavily on your website, social media channels, and other PR to boost your fashion brand marketing.
Simple Giveaway Contests
A good example of a give-away contest that is simple and does not require too much prep work or inventory hassles can be seen in the #buckswinyouwin campaign by Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Essentially customers got free shipping if the Bucks won the game. A simple and yet very effective campaign to create a conversation and give away something that is clear and understandable.
Some brands come up with campaigns that are so complex you would need a college degree to get a hint of what it is all about. Here is a campaign by Back Country with the hashtag #goatworthy. Unless you are an ardent fan of the brand, it is hard to make what the contest is about is and why they are giving away what they are. Make your give away campaign related to your brand offering while still keeping it simple enough to garner user participation and user generated content. In fact, investing in campaigns that give you user generated content such as comments, photo posts etc is worth its weight in gold. It creates the buzz needed as well as help your brand shine through via the platform algorithm.
Idea #4: Find A Promotional Partner
It is natural to look at all other players in your market segment as competition. But if you pause for a second and pay attention, you will find businesses that could be competitive but also partners. For instance, if you find a brand that specializes in swimwear but also has other items that are similar to yours, it would be a great idea to partner with that brand and cross-promote offerings.
The power of partnership in the fashion and apparel industry deserves a separate post of its own. But keeping an eye out and actively seeking partnership opportunities can do wonders for your promotion and bottom line. Even partnership with fashion shows may turn into a surprising
These days it is ever more important to leverage the influencer system on social media to get your brand noticed. Gen-Z target audience depends on and believes in social proof and recommendations almost completely and influencers play a vital role in filling that gap.
Even huge brands partner together occasionally to expand their mutual influence. For instance, Louis Vuitton and BMW came together in a partnership to create an exclusive range of luxury luggage products crafted in carbon fiber of the launch of BMW i8.
Another awesome example of seeming unrelated competitors partnering is Alexander Wang and H&M. Alexander Wang sells high-end products and their shoes can start from $350 while H&M sells low-end products with prices in the range of $35 per pair. But this kind of contrasting pairing benefits both brands – in the case of H&M, it positions them as trendy, fashionable, and not boxed into the budget segment whereas, for Alexander Wang, this partnership exposes them to a whole new set of audience and market segment.
Idea #5: Find influencer talent on YouTube to be your brand ambassador
If you have the money to go after well-known celebrities, that is great. If not then don’t wait till you have a lot of money to consider celebrity endorsement strategies. Scour Youtube and identify up-and-coming talent that aligns with your brand and talk to them about cross-promotion. Nurture and encourage the talent so that when they do make it big, your brand gets the exposure that would be hard to achieve in other ways.
This may sound like a difficult strategy but it is guaranteed to give you an awesome ROI.
There are tons of examples of clothing and fashion brands partnering with Youtube influencers to reach their target audience. For instance, Calvin Klein sponsored Lauren Elizabeth who has over 1.2 million followers on Youtube to create a video about her morning routine. In this video, Elizabeth shows off her Calvin Klein underwear while casually talking about her routine.
Denim partnered with Jenn Im who has over 2.7 million followers on Youtube to create a video on the diverse line of Denim jackets. With almost half a million views, this video is an advertisement for Denim in he guise of fashion advice.
Fundamentals Of Marketing Campaigns
Unless you have a huge marketing budget, it would be safe to assume that the best place to begin your brand marketing journey would be online. With some guerilla marketing techniques and some old-fashioned hard work, you can really reach your target market and generate enough interest in the brand to create a snowballing effect.
BUT before getting in the juicy details of how to market your clothing brand online, let us look at some fundamentals that need to be carefully addressed to ensure your marketing campaigns bear fruit during launch and later.
These fundamentals include the following which will be explained in more detail below:
1. Determine Business Goals
2. Select Campaign Media
3. Identify Target Audience
4. Competitive Positioning
5. Online Channel Creation
6. Content Creation
7. Online Engagement
Determine Business Goals
Before you begin any marketing, it is critical that you figure out and identify your business goals. It is not enough to simply know that you want the business to take off, get a lot of customers and make a ton of profit. You will need to dig deep and have a very detailed and specific list of business goals that are laid out on a reasonable and doable time scale.
Depending on your business goals, there are different kinds of marketing campaigns you can undertake. Here are a few examples:
Generate new leads
To generate new leads you can look at generating targeted traffic from Google and Social Media.
To better qualify and rank leads so you can segment them and then follow up based on their timeframe and their likelihood of buying.
Nurture existing leads
To communicate with leads that are in the pipeline but may not be ready to buy or to take the next step; a nurturing campaign reminds them of your value and provides information that can help move them along.
To close deals within a short time period – a campaign to encourage people to “buy now.”
Up-sell existing customers
To encourage current customers to upgrade their existing product, to increase the quantity or frequency of their purchases.
Nurture existing customers
To communicate with existing customers and reinforce the value you provide.
To encourage customers or prospects to supply you with qualified referrals.
To increase awareness of your company, product and/or people in your market; to communicate the value you provide and what you stand for.
Select Campaign Media
Once you have established the list of business goals you have and identified the marketing campaign ideas, it is time to select your campaign media. This includes both online and offline media channels.
For generating new leads for your clothing brand, here are a few channels:
1. Online advertising
This channel involves running adverts on targeted websites or through email newsletters. The advantage of this channel is that it is targeted and measurable and it is easy to test and improve. However, since you are driving them to your site and the site has to convert your website needs compelling messages and great conversation optimization.
2. Email campaigns
You can either buy or rent a subscriber list or use an in-house list to send a short but compelling email. This is about building an awakened brand recall and trust with your target market. The advantage is that it is very targeted and measurable and easy to test and improve. However, again since you are driving them to your site, your website has to convert and this should be implemented through an email service provider.
Here is a primer on email campaigns for your online shop.
3. Organic search
This is one of the most popular methods of getting traction online. You would need to “Optimize” your website so it ranks high in search engine results for your targeted keywords. This method is extremely timely and brings qualified prospects straight to you and can generate a lot of traffic to your site. However, the website needs to be carefully designed and updated regularly. You will also need to use other Internet marketing techniques to raise your profile. It can be quite difficult to rank for anything except very targeted words.
4. Viral campaigns
By using social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to post entertaining videos or memes that relate to your clothing company, you can create interest online and if you can make it viral, then you are guaranteed sharing and traffic. With this method, you can reach a wide audience in a very short period of time. However, the campaign needs to be very creative and catchy. You also need good offers and a good website for visitors who take action.
Here is an ecommerce guide to going viral.
5. Blog & Social Media
Creating compelling posts on a brand blog is the fundamental way to ensure you get traction online. By having a frequently updated blog and using social media to promote your blog posts, you can reach targeted audiences and establish credibility and position your company as a leader in the industry.
Identify Target Audience
Understanding your target market thoroughly is the single most critical thing a business owner could do to help their brand on the road to success after clothing designs and materials. Most often than not, small business owners think that they know who their target market but in most cases the net is wide and they struggle to achieve success.
Targeted marketing is essential to success because it will allow you to get the most out of your marketing and lead your business in the right direction. If these tips seem confusing, it may be time to talk to a branding expert about how to develop and market your small business brand.
The most critical aspect of your starting a clothing line is answering the questions: What sets your product (clothing or apparel), service, and company apart from your competitors? What value do you provide and how is it different from the alternatives? In fact, did you even play around with brand name ideas before you settled on one final one?
Most businesses can not answer these questions honestly or with conviction. At SpellBrand, we help clients define how they “differentiate” their offering and create value for their market segment. It is about carving out a place in the competitive landscape and having a laser-like focus to deliver on the brand promises that are made.
Online Channel Creation
As long as there will be online users, small businesses have a chance to compete with more established brands and digital marketing is the best way to level the playing field. They don’t need to have immense resources to purchase airtime for advertisements. A small company only needs to have distinct ways of standing out among the competition. All it should take are qualities such as out-of-the-box creativity, dedication, and proper brand presentation.
Click Here to read about some neat ideas on social media channel creation.
Here are the main ways you can create content and deliver them to your target audience. Please note that although it is advisable for you to write content by yourself or perhaps other members of your company, if you feel that you do not have the skills or the inclination, you can always hire qualified freelance writers who would work with you to create content that resonates with your audience.
Believe it or not, Facebook isn’t just for cat photos, news articles, selfies, and ads. Businesses like yours can actually generate customers from Facebook – as long as you’re using the right approach.
With over 18 years of branding building experience, I am writing a new series called “Launch Your Brand” where I explore the various steps involved in envisioning, creating and launching a brand in a particular market segment. The series will also examine the aftermath of the launch and delve into promotion, marketing, traffic, conversions and profit facets of the equation.
In this first series, I take up Clothing & Fashion lines and labels. The reason I chose to start with exploring how to create and launch a clothing line is that over the years I have worked with many clothing brands and helped them launch to success. It is an exciting process and my agency has become somewhat of an expert in this field.
Ultimate Guide: How to start a clothing Brand
Creating and launching a clothing brand can be quite daunting but if it is done right, the potential of success, profits and satisfaction is tremendous. Most entrepreneurs who decide to start a clothing label have a lot of passion and conviction in the power of good clothing. It goes beyond making money and into the realm of contributing something to this world. This passion attracts me to work with and help launch such brands.
Brand Value Proposition
When the seed of germination of the idea to launch a clothing brand takes hold of your imagination, the first step of the process should be to think about the “Brand Value Proposition“. It would take discipline to not jump ahead. Not having a clear idea of what your Brand Value Proposition is will hugely influence the success of your brand and your bottom line.
The intersection of the garments you plan to offer and the target customer needs is the sweet spot of the value proposition. If you do not clearly define how your proposed clothing line would appeal to the market that you target, then the rest of the process of the launch would be an uphill battle.
You have to ask the question: “what will make your clothing line valuable?”. Your clothing line will not be successful if people do not understand why they should pay attention to your brand. At this point, you are probably thinking that this kind of thinking should come at a later stage. Believe me when I say that nothing can be farther from the truth. Understanding what will set your brand and your product/service offering apart from the competition is a crucial step that many startups either ignore or not aware of and end up paying the price later on.
Example: Suppose you want to sell premium hats starting at $120. Your target market can find similar hats in the stores starting at $50. The reason you believe your hats should be priced premium is because of the premium quality material you use and the high quality of your hats. If you simply launch your brand and then expect people to come buying your premium hats, it will not work. You can not simply communicate the high quality of your product because all brands claim the same. You would need to identify a value proposition that goes beyond just the high quality. You would need a story that connects with your target audience that makes your hats appealing and desirable so that they would pay a premium for them.
Picking A Brand Name
For some pointers on why the right brand name is important, I would suggesting going through this article. For a clothing company, your brand name is an asset that can really help your brand make an impact. Picking the right name can be tricky but the best advice that I can give at this stage is to put your personal preferences aside and pick a name that matches your core values, your brand value and the worldview of your potential customers. Think ahead to how your brand name would be received. Ask yourself these 6 questions. Also, make sure you understand the dos and don’ts of brand naming.
Once you pick a name, make sure it does not infringe on any copyright or trademark both locally and nationally. Check with your local chamber of commerce to make sure you can register it as a company name and that there are no other companies with the same or similar name. Conduct a federal trademark search with the USPTO database too. Read this article if you need help with trademarking logo design.
Example: Consider the name “Lambeewear”. The client’s second name is Lambert and he decided to call his company Lambeewear which is a stylish word and also ties back to the owner in a very stylish and effective way. The first line of accessories that Lambeewear launched were hats and these were called “Lambeenies”! Now that is good branding!
Creating a Brand Identity
I will not really talk about this point because there are many other articles on this site about brand identity and the importance of the right kind of branding etc. Read this article to understand the difference between a simple logo design and branding. Also, read some basics of branding and some key terminologies related to branding which you help you understand it better.
It is critical that your brand has a logo that matches its purpose and message. It is not all about aesthetics. The impact your logo and brand colors have on the target market is vital.
When you start with the question of how to start a clothing business online, the first thing that comes to mind is the brand identity of the brand. Please do not ignore this part of your journey as the look and feel of your brand will decide how it is perceived by your target audience and ultimately to sales and revenue.
Website & Online Store
After your have created your brand identity, it is vital to invest in getting a professional website to be the face of your brand. Every day I see companies with websites that are so poorly designed that I wonder what the stake holders were thinking. When your prospects would visit your website make sure you present to them your best face. Design standards are high up in the clouds these days and people are easily turned off by bad design. This is even more true if you are trying to sell your clothing line online.
For a static website where you are not selling cloths and accessories online, the minimum you would need are:
1) An elegant website design that matches your brand. It has to be customized and never ever go for free websites that are available through some hosting companies such as Godaddy.
2) High quality royalty free stock photos should be used in the web design. Do not let your web designer use photos from a Google search since the images may be copyrighted and this could result in a law suit down the line.
3) High quality photos of your products and garments. This single point can make or break your brand value. Unprofessional and low resolution photos of your garments will not create the right kind of impact and your sales will suffer.
4) A CMS (Content Management System) with your hosting so that you can manage and edit your website by yourself. If you want to create new pages or post some content on the website to keep it fresh, it would cost you quite a lot in the long term to keep going back to a design firm. Instead, you should invest a little upfront to get a website that has a CMS.
For an ecommerce website or online store, here are a few items you need to be aware of:
1) Go for a website and online store that you can own outright. There are several online solutions where your online store sits on their proprietary hosting system and links into the various e-commerce modules. If you decide to move your website down the line to a different hosting provider, you will find that you can take the design and the static pages but not the store. Of course, you can export all your products and orders and if the new system permits, you can import them back but it is not straightforward.
Ideally, if you budget permits, it is better to have a store that is created for your business and is hosted on an account that you own. This can usually be done with the WordPress platform.
2) Make sure that your eCommerce store provider does not charge a percentage of all sales transactions. This could be a killer. Typically such services offer a nice store for a low set up and possibly low monthly fees which makes it very attractive. In the beginning, you may feel that you will have fewer sales and hence the percentage commission would not be that significant. But you will quickly realize that when sales start picking up, you are paying up to 10% of every sale to the store provider!
3) Sign up for a payment gateway that charges a relatively low percentage per transaction. A good example is PAYPAL which is quite competitive. If you get a PAYPAL business account, your online store developer can hook it up to the website to accept credit card payments seamlessly.
4) Make sure that you online store website has social media integration to ensure people share your products and accessories on Google+, Facebook and Pinterest. This will give more visibility to your clothing line and will help with building brand recall and eventual conversions.
Promotion & Marketing
Actually this dovetails into the previous point and overlaps quite a lot. As a small clothing brand and with limited budgets, your best bet is to focus on online marketing to get the word out there. At the same time, also think of some unique ideas for offline marketing locally. This could include ideas such as:
1) Participating in local events and giving away t-shirts with your branding
2) Giving away garments or accessories to local celebrities to try out
3) Participate in local charity events and exposing your brand
4) Organizing min fashion shows at your local restaurant or community center to show off your latest line.
5) Tie up with local businesses and offer to give discounts to their customers
However beware of overzealous marketing!
Pricing & Sales
Pricing is the biggest challenge for most small businesses and especially so for a clothing label. There are different methods of setting your prices but I would caution against arbitrarily setting prices. I would also not recommend relying to heavily on taking cue from the competition. If you have established your Brand Value Proposition clearly, you should be able to price your garments and accessories based on the value your clothing brings to the customers. If the story is told right, then you can charge premiums.
As a start up, it is very tempting to price low. When I talk about increasing prices or setting higher prices, many of the clients that I work with balk and shake with fear. That is because they look at pricing as an arbitrary thing. Pricing depends on the value you create for your client. If you do not make your clothing brand appealing or desirable, then you will have to participate in pricing wars with competitors. Instead focus on establishing a story that life your clothing line above the noise and makes it much more appealing.
Your sales don’t necessarily have to be tied to the price. Many business owners believe that lower prices will lead to more sales. This is true when you are dealing with a commodity such as sugar or salt or petrol. But you have to raise your brand above the commodity status. You can not afford to have people think of your brand as just another clothing provider. In fact it has been proven that if done with the right context, raising prices and charging a premium actually increases sales!
Example: A clothing brand that we helped create and launch approached the market by being an exclusive members only club. Even before the launch of the brand, invites were sent to the leading online social media elite and media personalities along with 5 invites to give away. A couple of months before the launch, the invites were at a premium an people were begging to get in. The premise of the club is that fashionable clothes for gentlemen would be created as limited editions and would be only available to members of the club.
This formula was used most effectively by Google when it launched it’s Google+ network.
Profits & Expansion
Finally always be thinking of profit margins. I have worked with more than 200 brands in the past 5 years, helping them create and launch brands and in all this time the single defining thing I have noticed is that business owners are not really clued into how profit works. They tend to always look at the revenues and cash flow and enter a rat race to generate more and more revenue with out proper consideration to the profit margins.
Every business needs profits to sustain and grow. Having large revenues but relatively low profits keep businesses in a vulnerable position. If things go wrong or the economic climate changes, they are in for a shock. With out healthy profits there would be no money invested back into the business to improve the process, quality of the product or even infrastructure. This in turn leads to disaster if there is a decrease in revenue.
With out going overboard, always make sure that every garment or accessory you sell has a healthy profit margin attached to it. But do not consume the profits for personal sustenance and life style.
1) Plough the profits back into the business.
2) Improve your supply chain.
3) Hire better people.
4) Invest in making your website and the buying experience better.
Do not use profits for your personal life style. Have discipline in terms of paying yourself just enough to sustain – at least initially. I have seen many entrepreneurs who have launched clothing brands get some measure of success and then go off spending money on fancy homes, clothes, vacations and other personal expenses only to find that when sales decrease or they target market changes, they are left with an unhealthy brand that then suffers and sometimes simply dies!
Keep tuned for more advice and suggestions in this series. If you would like to talk to me about your brand, call me on 646 568 5583.