Emerging entrepreneurial designers function with a paucity of resources. As new entrants in the fashion industry, they are yet to be fully established. They have a survival mentality and a strong profit orientation, because of which brand development usually goes unnoticed. Since their key skill-set lies in the creative aspect of the business, these designers are usually poorly informed about what brand identity entails and how brand management needs to be structured. In addition to this, they are also not aware of how strong branding can be leveraged for greater business growth and development. Owing to limited resources, they believe branding is out of their financial means and make the mistake to ignore it until the business is better placed.
Strategically speaking, it is imperative that the ‘brand’ is considered when developing business strategy. The designer should have clarity on the brand identity from the onset. Keeping it in mind business strategy and operations should be structured. If the designer perceives the brand identity as a ‘strategic resource’, better brand orientation in the firm strategy and related activities can be achieved. For emerging, entrepreneurial designers brand identity stems very strongly from the designer themselves. The designer’s unique past life experiences and culture, knowledge and capabilities, personality and point of view, personal style, inspiration, vision, and purpose, and philosophy and beliefs contribute very strongly to their brand’s identity. Since all these aspects are unique to the designer, so is the firm brand identity.
The brand identity can hence become a unique selling proposition for the brand and serve as a source of differentiation in the market vis-a-vis the competition. This unique selling proposition needs to be effectively communicated to the target customer segment to achieve desired market positioning, and acquire and retain customers, eventually increasing profits and sales. This effective communication can only be enabled if business strategy and related activities are centred on the brand. Some such activities include - target customer segmentation, marketing strategy, designing firm visual identity, signature style and aesthetic, product development, and distribution strategy. In so doing the designer can ensure that every market and consumer touchpoint exudes the brand message.
The use of brand identity when interacting with the target customer creates lasting competitive advantages. It becomes a guide to satisfy customer needs, and enables unique customer interaction - this, in turn, creates brand equity, another key resource. Since emerging designers have fewer resources than their larger competitors, it is important that they leverage firm brand identity as a resource in the best way possible. Strong brand orientation, in the long run, will lead to increased sustained profits for the business.
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