Brands are the heart and soul of all life and style companies. Their creation requires professional development.

In fashion, like all markets, brands are intangible assets that can even become a company’s most prized possession when synonymous with quality and reliability. Therefore, creating a brand is an important task requiring professional development to avoid the most common design pitfalls.

Creating a brand compared to a product offer represents a competitive advantage, because garments or other items can be copied. However, brands create an identity, meaning consumers are buying more than just a dress, a jacket or a pair of trousers. They’re buying a promise. This may be quality or durability, and everything that goes into a product’s creation, invisible to the customer.

Emiliano González, a fashion marketing consultant, reveals that one of the most common pitfalls when building a brand is believing that identity focuses exclusively on graphics (a logo, label or slogan). Instead, it goes much deeper, touching on psychology and semiology. “You have to build a persona, or an identity based on deeper knowledge. People must make mental associations between images and concepts when shopping,” he explains.

González adds that to build the brand, deep knowledge of the target market is essential, along with the values required to achieve positioning goals. “If you’re going to buy a cotton t-shirt, you won’t pay more than 200 Mexican pesos ($USD 10) because you’re only going to pay for the tangible, the piece of fabric that’s cut out and sewn together. If your competitor does the same, people will buy the best garment at the best price. People aren’t buying the brand here,” he explains. 

The second most common pitfall is creating a brand based on the here and now, not the future. Brands must be universal and timeless, to be passed down to our children or grandchildren in the future. “When creating fashion brands, trends come and go and brands die,” he notes.

To avoid the most common pitfalls in this process, the fashion consultant recommends following these five steps when choosing a brand name:

  1. Keep it short.
  2. Make it memorable. 
  3. Make it euphonious or pleasing to the ear. It should be associated with the service or product for sale.
  4. There should be a relationship, even if not direct, with certain mental images people can associate with the product or service.
  5. Ensure the chosen name is unregistered, i.e., that no one has registered it before.

Go That Extra Mile

Another pitfall is, when you have a successful product, wanting to create a brand. This is not impossible, but involves a longer, more complicated process. Brands used to be the designer and their mystique. People went directly to the designer to buy a product based on quality and design, then recommended it.

“When they began industrializing, fashion brands realized that, ultimately, brands outlive the designer, and when a designer leaves for whatever reason, the brand remains valuable. An outsider takes the brand over and continues the founder’s legacy. For instance, this is the case with Chanel. Coco Chanel passed away, but the brand was so iconic, so intricately connected to what she believed, designed and loved, that the people who took over continue her legacy. They ask themselves: what would she have done? Then, they take action,” González adds.

However, he explains that because perceptions are obviously somewhat ambiguous, a brand identity manual must be built. This is not free from perceptions. It’s a brand DNA rulebook, which evolves and gets updated, while the brand remains the same. It’s universal and timeless. 

Several companies neglect brand building, and in many cases they aren’t doing too badly. But they’d do better with it. People often don’t appreciate this process, but sooner or later it must be built.