3 Reasons Why Your Fashion Brand Sucks (And How to Fix It)
Your brand is everything. And if it sucks, you have a serious problem.
There aren’t many decisions you can be 100 percent sure about when running a small business, but this is one of them. Investing in your brand will deliver the best return on investment. We’re talking high returns at a low rate.
The most common critical mistakes we see business owners make are:
- Underestimating the importance of brand worth
- Misunderstanding what a brand is, (and assuming it’s a logo, website, and a product with pretty pictures)
- Validating their actual customer base (if they exist)
These are the overlooked foundations of a brand that sucks.
While design is a component of branding, it’s meaningless without understanding how your business will add value to a group of people that gives it worth. To do that you need a firm understanding of who and what your brand stands for.
There is a difference between what you want your brand to be, and what your brand actually is.
There are 3 warning signs that your brand’s worth is questionable:
- Poor quality (of customer service and products)
- Poor presentation of branding elements and product
- Poor returns due to marketing and customer identification
There’s a lot of extra pressure for fashion start-ups to present themselves and produce collections as if they’ve been up and running for five years already, comparing themselves to luxury houses or established local fashion brands who have been slugging away at it for a decade.
So you put your best foot forward and do as much as possible yourself. You take a couple of short courses or even go to university to get those skills up. Instagram is FULL of flourishing brands…right? What exactly are you doing wrong and how the hell do we fix it?
The if–you–build–it–they–will–come mentality
Some founders start marketing before they’ve even determined their audience. This is like asking for a commitment from a blind date and planning out the next year together. If brands don’t know how their audience likes to interact with them, they’re going to miss the mark. Why would an audience interact in a brand that doesn’t exist or doesn’t get them? It’s a sure path to rejection.
Without an understanding of who you’re talking to and what’s important to your target customer, you’re not really focusing on the needs of the customer. Actually, you don’t even know if that customer exists.
Another rookie error is using catchy sourced imagery and discount tactics to bring browsers to your website. This will only get you so far. When it’s time to launch a collection, customers will find surface level imagery and promotions, rather than meaningful content. It’s not unique, it’s not shareable and it’s probably not very memorable. These days, creating shareable content is key to a successful launch and will help your brand make an emotional connection with the customer.
The worst thing that can happen for a brand is to fall into obscurity. If you don’t actively differentiate your business then you will end up becoming a commodity in your marketplace. You need to find out what it is that separates your business from every other business in your marketplace. You need to give customers a REASON to pick you and then focus all of your branding around this differentiation.
The easiest way to answer this question of differentiation is to ask yourself.
“Why should a customer pick me over every other business?”
“What makes my business a viable alternative to a competitor?”
Your ideas are better than your execution
We get it. We live in an age of instant gratification. Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and all its filters, whatever. We’ve been made to think that it’s all about ‘the now’. This can be harmful, because when it comes to clothing and accessories, sometimes dialling it back can help a lot. Having a solid vision is essential, but great ideas don’t always mean good products. A graphic might look cool in your head, or a design for a shirt might look awesome when it’s a sketch, but plenty of times translating something from mind to matter means stuff gets lost in the process. Samples may come back messed up without the correct processes in place, you might lay blame in thinking printing companies may not be as good as you thought they were. – when in fact it could be that colour standards haven’t been defined or sampled before committing to bulk.
Before you release any product or range, you should make sure its up to your own standards. Would you buy this? Is this something you’re truly proud of, or do you think there are a couple of things you can still fix? Have you determined if you’ve doubled up on too many similar styles which could cannibalise each other?
Your product isn’t as good as it should be
If you promise quality and your products tear or buttons fall off in a month, that’s a problem. If you’re claiming to represent a certain lifestyle or culture and no one in that particular clique is down with your brand, that’s another one. Maybe you need to rethink your graphics, copywriting, your cuts, manufacturers, or maybe even the entire brand.
There’s nothing wrong with starting over, as long as you learn from your mistakes and focus on aligning the quality and refinement that your target market already expects from your competitors and complementary brands that they use in everyday life.
Ask yourself what other brands do your customers align with that represent their values? What kind of car brand do they prefer? What kind of shoe or coffee/tea brand aligns with their needs? Where do they like to holiday and why? These clues will also enable you to line up collaborations with complementary brands or start advertising where these brands also show up for their customers.
You’re making revenue but no money
Any business can “make money” but making a profit is different to revenue. Think about it: let’s say you have a turnover of $100K in sales – that sounds great, right? But, if you’ve spent $50K in wages or contractors, $30K in production and $40K in marketing to make those sales. Effectively you’ve spent $120K, and you’ve made no profit. In fact, you’ve made a loss of $20K.
Make sure you manufacture at a cost that includes your marketing and advertising budget so that you can be sure with every sale you are accounting for your operational spend. Bringing your product to market and remaining competitive is the real challenge but a sure-fire way of generating revenue with profit.
Your marketing is tactical instead of strategic
You’ve limited your marketing efforts to taking short courses and free social media templates. Then discovered some of those social media channels develop new tools like reels, IGTV and cross app messaging. You feel the pressure to keep up and create short term content and spin your wheels while you try to get traction. But where are the sales?
Sales aren’t converting because there’s no customer journey in place. Maybe your social media account looks great, but that should be the cherry on top of your grand brand plans!
Ask yourself: what does the next 3 to 6 months look like? What does the next 1-5 years look like? Where do you want to drive your business? Your marketing process should be the same approach as when you plan a holiday. The goal should be aligned with the destination, the strategy is the method or plan in which you’ll get there. The tactics that you’re implementing will be the little twists and turns that you’ll take along the way. If you’re constantly taking twists and turns, you’re never going to get to the end goal. Begin with the end in mind!
By now you may have identified issues going on for your fashion or accessories business. We see this with every struggling brand especially those at the two-and-a-half-year mark. Unable to invest in doing any of the afore mentioned at a refined level and unable to scale. So what’s going on for you? How will you fix your brand?
If you need to recover your business and grow it’s worth- Book in with the team for a free 1/2 hour discovery call or jump the queue and snap up this work book: