Branding is probably one of the most important things you will do when starting a men’s fashion brand, arguably even more so than for a brand aimed at women. Why? In general terms, women tend to be a little more practical and shop by recommendation, whereas us guys tend to be suckers for the bells and whistles which come with a come with a strong brand. The brand is so crucial because as consumer tastes change over time, the real value in a long-term business actually lies in the brand. You could, for example, shift from clothing to whiskey in the next decade as long as you have established trust in your brand.
In terms of coming up with your own brand, you can outsource the task entirely to a branding or marketing agency, but where is the fun in that? For Signature, we kept all of our branding and content creation inhouse, as we have two multimedia professionals who are not happy unless they are being creative on a consistent basis. So I will come at this from the perspective of going DYI on your branding. Here is what I believe to be your ideal roadmap:
- Buyer Personas.
- Building a Creative Team.
- Research Brands you want to Emulate.
- Create a Brandbook Messaging Document.
- Involve Your Audience.
- Create a Brand book.
1. Buyer Personas
Buyer personas will be the main thing to dictate how you come up with a successful brand and identifying your target customer who will find some form of connection with your brand. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of people who you believe are the most likely to buy your products.
For example, Paul McSweeney is a 24-year-old young man living in Cork. His main interests are going to the gym, traveling, and fashion. He watches youtube bloggers in his spare time, as well as going out socializing at the weekend. His main challenges lie in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, kepping up appearances on Instagram, funding his travels and his fashion sense, but all the while not having much disposable income.
For more information on creating buyer personas, I would recommend checking out this videofrom Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Certification, which goes into more detail about creating buyer personas.
2. Building a Creative Team
As mentioned our team consists of professionals who work in graphic design, photography, video, and animation. I did this by making them co-founders and giving them equity in my business. Is this necessary? No. This is just the approach I took among the many ways you could skin that cat.
What you could do is hire someone if you have the money, or even outsource the nuts and bolts through a freelance service like Upwork or Fiverr, but all the while managing the people working on your brand and keeping tight control over your vision. Oftentimes your brand will be a combination of the ideas in your head which you can’t quite describe and the experience and expertise of someone who creates brands for a living.
3. Research Successful Brands Which you would Like to Emulate
We researched brands which were successful and also very similar to what we were trying to do with Signature. Brands which also target your buyer personas are ideal. For example, we were going for a premium, clean look which targets millennials and below. For us, brands like MVMT, Truff, and Gymshark provided inspiration for different reasons.
4. Brandbook Messaging Document
This is a document essentially capturing the requirements from you to find out more about your vision and your customer. It should largely be based around your buyer persona. If your creative person does not ask you to get this down on paper then this would raise a red flag for me. It might be a little extra work in the beginning but it is your insurance that you and your creative are on the same page coming into the exercise. Here is an example of the finished document which we created for Signature.
You won’t get everything right the first time and you will need to be timely with revising and providing feedback. Your sense of urgency will direct how quickly this gets completed.
6. Involve Your Audience
Involve the target customers who have been assisting with your market research. After all, they will be the ones who will need to buy into your brand and trust it.
7. Create a Brandbook
The output should not just be a logo, but a brand book which has several variations of your logos, themes for pitch decks, fonts, primary and alternative colors, as well as some general direction around content going forward and how it complements the brand. After all, going forward all content will always have to be on brand.
To sum up, the most important things to consider with branding is that you are appealing to your buyer persona, creating trust and making sure that you have plenty of direction to continue the brand through a variety of different types of content.