It’s an Iceberg

The fashion industry is an iceberg, and most of what you see is just the tip.

Key Takeaways

  1. There’s a lot more to building a brand than what’s on the surface. Before diving into design you need to make sure you have a good understanding of what it takes to start a company.
  2. It all starts with defining your target market. If you don’t have a customer in-mind, you’ll struggle to make sales later on.
  3. By creating an in-depth, go-to-market strategy, you can increase your odds of building a successful business from the get-go.

Think you’re ready to start your own line? Before diving into the fun stuff (branding, designing, and marketing), you need to make sure you have a full understanding of what it takes to build a brand. Put simply: the fashion industry is an iceberg, and most of what you see is just the tip. That’s why we’ve created this easy introductory guide to building a brand, to shed light on what lies beneath the water.

Defining Your Target Market

One of the most important facets of brand building is defining your ideal customer. But the process isn’t as simple as racking up a few thousand followers on Instagram. Today’s brands use real data to define their target audience. This information helps determine whether what you’re trying to sell is desirable within your market, and exactly how you can craft your product and brand image to reach your target audience. 

Creating a Value Proposition

Once you have determined that there’s room for your brand on the market, you need to craft your company around the needs of your target consumer. Creating a value proposition could mean identifying your brand as “sustainable” or filling a gap within the sneaker market, but it can also encompass the actual values of your brand. Does your shoe line have partnerships with other companies that share it’s values of sustainable production? Why is your vegan leather purse cooler than others? These are the kind of questions you need to answer before you can even begin to consider going into production. If you can’t provide value to your target customer, you won’t be able to make sales. 

Defining Your Distribution Channels 

Once you’ve determined your target audience and value proposition, you need to start considering distribution models. Deciding where you will sell your line will not only affect how you define and market your brand, but also the price point and production of your product. For example, if you decide to build a direct-to-consumer brand (DTC), you could be selling your clothing from an online store or directly from Instagram. This gives you leverage to price your product cheaper than competitors by cutting out the middleman, but it also means that your company will be solely responsible for distribution, putting pressure on your bottom line. 

Financing

Being an entrepreneur is hard work, and part of starting your own business is understanding that things may not always go the way you want them to. Establishing a brand takes time, and turning a profit—even longer. That’s why financing is one of the most important things to consider when launching your own company. For example: if you’re following a startup business model, fundraising is a key aspect of establishing your business. Not only will you need to provide a value proposition that encourages investment in your brand, but you will also be accountable to your investors in the form of contracts, check-ins, and carefully established plans for going to market and most importantly—turning a profit.

Production

Going into production tends to be the biggest hurdle for young brands. Unlike marketing, it involves navigating complex relationships with factories, often overseas, who may not be familiar with your brand and brand image. Not only can things turn out differently than expected, but managing the expense of turning your ideas into a reality can be tricky to say the least. Traditionally, smaller brands have struggled with the high costs of putting in small orders. In the fashion industry, the more you produce, the higher the profits—but only if you can guarantee those items will sell. 

Go to Market Strategy 

What is a go-to-market strategy, anyway? Put simply, it’s the fundamentals of your business plan—from creating a value proposition, to determining your target consumer, to establishing production, pricing, financing, and distribution. All of these things need to align in order to create a viable brand. If you don’t properly plan your go-to-market strategy, there’s a good chance your business won’t succeed.