On Part 1/3 we studied the basics of the concepts of communications and branding. On part 2/3 we saw the important points to think about for business communications when you are a young designer trying to get yourself out there. Now, what about the direct communications to the customer?
When it comes to communicating to the customer, all of the visual identity of your brand are important. This part is particularly crucial regarding how much we rely on images for communications and marketing. Just think about the high use of photo sharing platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. When considering direct communications to the customer, the visual part will be your departure point.
Things you will need to build your branding and communications strategy:
YOUR LOGO: It has to stand out. First of all you have to personally like it. To be proud of it. It is advised that you keep it simple, it must be visible on the label, and this will make it easier and less expensive if you wish to sew the logo directly on your products. You should also strive to have a logo that is readable, understandable and unique.
YOUR LOOKBOOK: Every season you’ll be able to show your inspiration, your identity and the products from your most recent collection. This lookbook has to be carefully crafted as it will define the overall identity of your brand and clothing.
YOUR WEBSITE: If you chose to create a logo, make sure that the design of your logo is consistent with the design of your website. Do something simple, clear and refrain from adding to much details and unnecessary embellishments. It is also recommended that you have a blog, again that fits the overall design and identity of your other visual components.
Why a blog? A blog is a great way to interract with your customers. Find subjects that interest you, and focus on those. It can be anything from art and design, ethical fashion, charity events, technology etc. If you are passionate about your subject it will read more engaging to your customers. One important rule to follow : when updating the blog, make sure you are putting yourself in the company mindset, to ensure that your content is consistent and that it correlates with your brand identity and value. Moreover, your blog will help become more Search Engine Optimal (SEO).
SOCIAL MEDIA: Using social media you’ll be able to easily engage and communicate with your customers. Here are some of the main elements you’ll want to focus on when creating your profile and engaging with the public through social media:
Facebook is a great tool to gain visibility. You’ll get to share and engage with your customers, be referenced on search engines, and it’s a great way to present your portfolio. Most of your “followers” on Facebook will be mainly customers that you already bonded with, and who are continuing the shopping experience through social media, so keep this in mind when deciding on the content you want to post.
You are more likely to gain new customers through Twitter as opposed to Facebook. Twitter is an open network, where people tend to do more ‘exploring’, while most of the likes on Facebook come from existing customers. You’ll get a network of potential customers through Twitter, that will help you gain visibility.
While Facebook and Twitter will be your “corporate” style social media platforms for your brand, you can use Instagram to share more about yourself and what is the actual behind the scenes of your work and life (depending on which extent you want to share snapshots about your daily life).
Facebook and Twitter have to be seen as the more professional interfaces, on which you will have to gain a strategy and style and stick to it. Through Instagram you’ll be able to express yourself in a much more extended and personal way in order to get closer to your viewers.
Now, everything comes together. You’ll have to identify the important questions regarding the overall values of your brand: Who are you? What is your identity? What do you stand for? What makes you stand out in the market? Your vision of the brand has to be clear. You’ll communicate it primarily through images, your product won’t be the only variable in the decision of whether or not to make a purchase for your customer. Who you are as a brand will make the difference in whether or not you are suitable to your audience.
The main takeaway is that you have to create a strong brand identity for your line. You have to take into consideration the customer experience, which does not only take place when your customer is in store.
Think about your customer service, you still have to keep your customers interested with events, pictures of what is happening in store, who are the employees working with you, how are your clothes made, etc. Give some insights of what’s happening on your side or a behind the scene look of the company. Finally, don’t hesitate to engage with the customer! They will feel special and more connected to the brand. If you have some political or charity commitments connected to your line, don’t hesitate sharing about it. Organizing events, communicating about your community engagement, whatever they may be, if they are in line with your brand you can use them to create a stronger bond with your customers.
Last but not least, go out ! Meet your customers ! Go to events, concerts, parties. Be there ! Be around, show yourself, present who you are, what you do and network. Word of mouth and networking are the best weapons to start a business. You have to get your name around !
One last piece of advice: branding is very important but make sure you keep a balance between your products and the brand itself. When growing your company that will be a challenge you will have to be cautious of. A brand has to be consistent with the quality of your products. Don’t put all your eggs in one branding basket!
This article was written by Alexandra. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin
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