From Concept to Brand: Advice for Fashion Startups

What are the steps that will take you from a concept to actually building a fashion brand? In the early stages, there’s so much involved that it can be easy to get ahead of yourself and overlook some critical first steps. 
So, before you get too far along, what should come first?

Know Your Target Audience & Market

Understanding your audience and target market is the first crucial step. At Scaling Retail, we’ve seen companies launch with incredible products, but fail to go anywhere because they were unable to stop and ask: who is my customer? 

Conducting market research is vital to your brand’s success—and the earlier you do it, the better. When you identify your target audience, it’s also useful to do focus groups to test your products. Receiving feedback early on will help you avoid a common pitfall—having an excellent product, but no customers to buy it!

There are instances when this research can save you a lot of investment in both time and money. We’ve seen clients who wanted to enter a market but were too far ahead of their time. Why is that important to know? If you’re ahead of your time, educating a market can be incredibly expensive, and in most cases, you’re better off waiting until the time is right.

This was the case with early sustainable fashion brands in new and emerging market countries. People may be aware of a concept and know it’s successful in other markets, but that doesn’t necessarily transfer from market to market. Educational advertising and informational marketing campaigns would be the first step in that situation, but only if you planned ahead and had the budget for it. 

Customer Awareness

Understanding the market for your product is critical, but knowing your customers is equally important. What are your customers looking for, and how will your product satisfy or fulfill their needs? 

Sometimes brands can tell themselves stories about these needs. For example, “my client goes from work to cocktails, and so my product serves this need.” We’ve all heard the “wear the same dress from work to cocktail hour” campaign before, but does anyone actually want to wear the same thing from work to drinks? Not often… because that’s a marketing ploy. And, it’s a marketing trick that’s been overused. Bringing more customer awareness to the table can help you build stronger messaging that connects with your customer’s real, and sometimes emotional, needs. If you want to get sales, it’s essential to diversify your brand’s message and dig a little deeper. 

Even if your product is the most basic thing, understanding who your customer is and how you’re going to position or market to them is paramount. If you stay true to your brand and build something that specifically caters to your customer, you will always be winning. And you’ll be building a fashion brand that is going to have loyal customers and sales. 

Marketing, positioning, branding, and customer awareness are all critical elements to brand building. Of course, there’s product development and merchandising just around the corner, but in the early stages of your brand, matching your brand promise with your product will lay the foundation you need to succeed. 

Want to know more? We take a further look at the topic in “Startup Shortcuts: How to Test Your Fashion Business Before Launching,” and if you’re ready for the next step, check out our post “Starting a Fashion Company: Production Sampling.”

At Scaling Retail, we specialize in taking your brand from an idea to actual sales. Ready to grow your business from the ground up? Please send us an email at hello@scalingretail.com to start the conversation.

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