Can a brand continue to exist nowadays when the needs of the public change at a dizzying rate? And when we refer to fashion products, the pace is even faster: collections and starred items does not change each season anymore, but every week.
In this scenario, fashion brands must face a decision: do they want to keep their personality and offering their identity as a product, inspiring audiences? Or would they panic and copycat just what it’s on trend, suppressing all sense of being a unique brand?
“We have to be the creative curators of our own brands”, Emily Chang (Intercontinental Group CCO)
Sometimes that decision depends on the size of the brand: it’s obvious that high-street brands are setting trends while the little ones have to follow them in order to attract customers that have a very fixed idea about what fashion items they want.
But there is another factor that makes a great influence in the fashion industry: how the company designs its brand management strategy. Being an authentic and original brand seems more difficult than ever in this era where the customer is king and dictates what will be a triumph or a catastrophe in the shop windows. And that’s also a good thing for the market, it just demands more to each fashion brand.
What is Brand Management?
Brand Management consists on the organization of brand guidelines that mark the identity that must be reflected in every product and the way the products are presented in the marketing strategy. This means building an identity for the brand and correctly communicating it inside the company and most importantly to audiences, in order to improve the brand’s reputation, value and profitability.
Nowadays brands are more important but also more fragile than ever, and a solid brand management can make a difference for a fashion company that is not standing out from its competitors. Brand Management must confront the What, the How and the Why of the company’s fashion products before working with a balanced strategy: it’s all about finding your voice.
Everything that makes a brand's personality is part of Brand Management: visual identity, copy style, social media tone, shops design — then those brand standards will be crystal clear for the company’s teams and departments and even staff at stores, so the message send to the customer from every channel will be equal, harmonious and totally branded.
What is the core of Fashion Brand Management?
The rules and strategies of Brand Management can be applied in any industry and type of brand. But for a fashion manager it has been a more typical approach because fashion brands rely more in their public identity and reputation than other industries, like tech or B2B. And there is a very simple reason behind that: fashion appeals to the personality of individuals and is part of the daily life and the nature of the consumer.
One of the main characteristics of Brand Management in the fashion industry is that brand identities are not as permanent as in other fields, and they need to constantly adapt and reshape their brand identity. Creativity is fundamental but also being very well-informed about new trends and launches, demands and connections with the celebrity, entertainment and pop culture.
As the prestigious fashion brand management academy Polimoda (owned by the luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo) states, fashion brands must reunite human, social and industrial values in their identity. Fashion brands need to compensate their superficiality with some kind of seductive message that is also aware of social issues and the urge of people to express themselves through fashion items.
The key points of a Brand Management strategy in the fashion industry
Behind this particular approach, the duties of fashion brand managers are the same as in any other industry:
- Business plan design
- Target audiences delimitation
- Community engagement (including social media, celebrities and influencers)
- Implementation times and goals
- Artwork and graphic direction (including labeling, packaging and stores)
- Communication and contents planning
- Collection management (styles, products, merchandising)
- Retail trends analysis
- Positioning study
- Legal aspects: copyrights, patents and licenses admin
- Commercial development
Nevertheless, the most important guideline for fashion brand management is that the brand is everything: the reason why customers buy this coat and no that is because it has a particular and exclusive label, not because the wool is better.
So your brand is the centerpiece of the strategy, not the products. That does not mean that quality control should be totally at loss, but that your products are ambassadors of your brand’s identity and the brand must speak through your catalog of items, and not the other way around.
The emotional components are the best suitors to achieve a great fashion brand strategy and create a connection between the brand and its target audience: you can sell whatever you want from there. That’s why well-known brands suddenly launch trendy products out of their comfort zones, like a perfume or a clothing limited collection for skaters.
Some experts point out that fashion brands are facing the death of advertising and must rely on branded content to reach bigger audiences and launch effective brand messages. This is something that primarily affects companies seeking to build a reputation and offer some quality, like little but renowned brands or luxury brands, while fast-fashion businesses might not be as interested in paying attention to brand management strategy and may sorely follow trends until the cow explodes.
Can you rely on Fashion BAM software?
While there is no specific software systems for the fashion industry, brand managers can use some digitals tools to save time, reach an improved workflow, analyze big data, keep every brand asset organized and reinforce the creative marketing campaigns with a solid data structure.
"The devil wears PIM: a software tool that automates catalogs and leaves time for creativity."
When it comes to choosing a BAM system, it’s important to take into account the size of your business and the type of features that you will mostly need. Smaller companies can trust on a BAM system in the cloud, as they are faster, cheaper and easier to integrate in a previous system, but a Brand Asset Management software on premise is a better option for medium-large enterprises, as they offer more control and robust functionalities for a greater volume of assets, locations and users.
In any scenario, a BAM system will be a great option because it offers more storage space, better automated performance, more analytics and insights, and improved channels integration and mobile versions that boost traffic and conversions.
Working with a Brand Asset Management gives you the freedom to build error-less marketing campaigns, better workflows, astonishing designs that attract customers and increase brand value, social media platforms integrations (especially where visuals are very important, like Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr), a solid process control and approval system, changes alerts, distribution options, multiple formats exports…
Whether you are reshaping a brand or giving a push to an emerging one, you must develop the proper skills as a fashion brand manager but also equip your team with the software that lays a solid foundation: an automated organization system like Product Information Management (PIM) that leaves you more time for creative and strategic tasks.
If you want to strike a chord as a fashion brand in a highly competitive and multi-dimensional landscape, try the trendiest digital accessory for fashion marketing teams, a 30-day PIM system demo, and be the star of the catwalk.