What is Branding- a conversation in design facilitation!

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I was recently  sent the  info on a Global Fashion Production seminar... I responded and the following is a discourse with the  Individual who  pulled this seminar together!

I practice an Open Business Model and believe designers should select  what they  attend;- See ad and link at  bottom of seminar! My response is in Green hers is in lilac!

This was one of the more honest discourses on  fashion I've seen and I enjoyed the debate... 

Please weigh in  at our Brooklyn Fashion Week Google Group! (Yes I  will give my opinion if you send stuff to my inbox... be warned!)


I find that most  independent  designers of "fashion" hit information overload at hour  "2"...   I also  find that  introducing them to new concepts need breaks for digestion...  But I Love what you are doing..

HA ha ha we thought the same thing but we really wanted it to be a crash course. I thought about doing it over two days…like a weekend intensive but I think people will have a commitment issue. I will pass out surveys after to see how we could improve the workshop.

That said my one concern  is

"It's been very well documented that you need a minimum of 2 million dollars to build a brand, but with today's social media the cost could be as little as $25 a week. This workshop will explore some gorilla marketing and editorial placement. "

I’ll answer this in the next statement.

BRANDING IS much more than  Marketing  or sales
(what was not stated is that part of that  2 million dollars looks at  consumer testing, product development , professional brand "dressing" as well as creative and product  guidelines ... some PR and marketing persons push  "branding"; but have absolutely no idea what  it is beyond  industry jargon! Every aspect of
PLM is vital to a Brand's character! Cradle to Cradle! Even its choice of a manufacturer!

I'm presently  sourcing for fashion labels and products for some project s there is a NEED to address product  design and merchandising as it  relates to  Brand development! There are designers with solid designs,  no production,  no financing!

You are so right about that! That’s why we have someone talking about developing a signature and we have two people talking about production. If you don’t have factories then you just have a hobby.

Not necessarily you just may not be in the retail sector; and while it may not be lucrative it is still viable as a Lifestyle business!

This may be the only   area we disagree on is that of "hobby" versus "professional"... There are many sectors in  independent design... mass manufacturing,  bespoke, couture, and yes  if you are in  retail; production is an  issue but  some designers can "specialize" in  one of a kind! I have consumers who will not shop, ”production!" and yes there are special types of quality and operational needs, but understand at  designers can make lucrative careers

About the financing….we have an  advocate of the young designers. In a nut shell NO ONE is going to give new designer money to start (samples) but if they get orders…then there is money to be found. I have been working with a few VC’s and with a company they have given money for production to 2 designers I know.

I know a designer with a backer , funding , factories and a distinctive "signature' his clothing make excellent editorial... so why is he not  selling" his product quality and construction is wonderful! We’re talking editorial meets museum; quality meets trend!  His garments do not fit!
FIT is a core issue surrounding product design... there are others!  What I spoke on is that a BRAND starts with your product development! The moment you select your specs, fabric... your brand guidelines are in play!

Personally I'd like to see each new label and designer work the floor of a store or boutique they wish to "hang'…but that’s me..

First up  I would suggest  a CORE workshop in  "What is a Brand" and what  a designer needs to do to develop a "STRONG" Brand before they begin marketing.... even production! I'm approached constantly by  young designers seeking  editorial placement and the truth is the  product will not sell! For many editors it is content to feed the "IT” consumers’ fashion  fetish... but in the end designers are not selling and since  a blog  picked them up... why should they make any changes!!

LOL….I KNOW! It’s my everyday struggle; we cover this subject in the first part….which I host. I love it when a designer tells me…the buyers just don’t understand me…LOL really that means you don’t have a sellable product.

I so agree it's about the consumer... and designers at all levels have forgotten that!

You cannot build a Brand on $25...  a week!

Yes you can. In a nut shell we talk about out sourcing the social media content. The designers we work with don’t have a penny to spend on PR. And I don’t want that fact to discourage them from trying.  Companies like elance.com you can place a bid and find “bloggers” to write and post about you for less than $25 a week.

Which explains the  crap I read on a Brand and on fashion... who who it, where very little on the  actual garment's cut, drape fall, designer philosophy,  consumer issues like quality, how it wears! BTW that practice is illegal unless explicitly stated that is is in fact a solicited post!

You cannot even seriously market a brand using social media on $25.00 a week. .. The man hours which is often not calculated is a huge leak in designer resources!  It takes about 3 hrs a day and at what a designer can earn freelancing that at a minimum $75 a day... but then  most  designers are not properly calculating their cost!

The man hours is another investment I think most people over look. But again it’s not about you (the designer) doing everything themselves. Interns play a big part in doing the homework for media placements….like looking up the editorial calendars.

They hear "free" and do not understand how the idea of “cash or kind”...

Your relationships in this instance, in getting into stores did not entail a CASH  output put took time energy and effort!  That is an investment! That many designers are not willing to make... as for interns according to an article I read on NY Times on law they should also be paid!
beside this “Someday” you will need to pay and if that cost is not recognized then the price structure is off!

As of Paid content from Bloggers
That's type of placement is common... But it's NOT BRANDING
... that's Brand Placement
It's also why  I do NOT take most bloggers seriously few even know the different silhouettes, or how to identify  true quality!

I have so many designers approach me to feature them because they've been in Blog X or Y or in such and such a magazine... I smile I understand it means I’ve paid for placement! Now if   a brand is solid... I'll shout it for free… as will your customer

Social media is Not free and the way many approach it not effective! Liking to read fashion is different form shopping fashion  or having the ability to "Spend" at certain price points!

I just started a line..did you know that? I haven’t spent a penny on PR and really very little time. I already have the retailers lined up for the first season. I think a lot of energy is spent in attracting the end use consumer. The idea is to engage the retailer; they will do the PR for you (the brand) they are the number one fan of the new designer. If they have it in the store (own it paid for it) they are going to hustle the heck out of it.

I agree even if they have not paid for it... but stand the potential of earning from it...  they will market it!  I tell a story of one of my first commercial items the store owner became my first mentor not only showing me what and how but even invested in the production of the item! It was a solid WELL DESIGNED PRODUCT!

Followers, fans, shoppers/Brand consumers do not fall in the same demographic... each has their individual  place in the cycle and may even  intersect!

Oh I hate demographic studies…. How many times have you bought something that you couldn’t afford??? How does that fit into any demographic? In the workshop we talk about understanding the core values of the consumer, that’s how you get to know them and be able to sell them.

Demographics are the characteristics of a population- I am interested in WHY people buy... And studies are flawed or skewed"  again what I am speaking of; s whether or not a design is “Solid” is..good and particularly how a brand  can utilize good design (In this case)  in surmounting a demographic... which is my  point!

Price even time does not matter when a consumer wants something... fashion is aspiration (as opposed to apparel which is necessity)  I know men who buy ladies shoes and clothing as Collector's items because of their beauty... and how many women buy clothing that  they KNOW wills not fit simply because of its appeal! It fills a need... and understanding why people buy is an important facet in brand positioning and product design!

But every (GREAT) store owner shops with their consumer profile in mind... sometimes a specific consumer  (in the boutique world)

So many designers take this to heart and are NOT doing what is necessary!


This is so seriously so misleading... I am actually writing a post on it!

You mean I am misleading the designers?

No The sentence reads misleading...  and I am not  sure what your understanding is of building a Brand.. Your clarification above speaks on data mining the social networks for specific purposes in this case sales and marketing  information  and opportunity!

That is not building a Brand... That’s marketing your brand/ product and that you can do for free or rather without a cash  output!   Actually  i always tell designers they can  get their items into a store by  building a relationship with the store! You can sell a product without having a brand... I love the seminars and the  topics and they seem to have experience in their relative area... i am not questioning your  seminar and will in fact share it with my list!  along with the fact that  what is being discussed is the marketing of the brand and not  BRANDIING!

I think you should first take the workshop and then form a full opinion.

I have been attending these workshops for so long... and have presented at many...  July- August I have a personal project in development...  I also avoid these seminars because as you see I speak up and so out of respect for individuals have decide not  to be present or I open my mouth and ask question and make comments (which  many cannot handle). 

I also share information... since i believe in design democracy and collaboration and will be sharing this with my list!

I grew up in this business since I am 14 years old I have worked in my families factory. I have been a buyer for 18 years. I have a degree from NYU in economics. I get hired by international governments and the world bank….I think I have a very detailed understanding of how the industry works. There is no “right way” or wrong way of starting/being in this business. I am just giving different ideas it’s to each person to make what they can of it.

Many of these designers getting Social Press are not selling more than  $16,000 a year and believe this is "normal"!

That’s the type of crappy information that is out there. How about this one…you are SUPPOSTED to lose money for 3 years? Why would anyone want to start a business with that mind set!

That is crap and when I tell designers that they say I WENT TO A SEMINAR and... LOL
There is no right or wrong way but there are proven fundamentals...

We each come to this with experience ... mine was product design from a custom  "bespoke" standpoint  so quality and fit were a part of that... I do not claim to be an expert in every part of fashion... But I have worked the  design, back end,  front-end and now explore the technology!

I started in this industry at 12 planned my first international trade show at 21 and got my  first international offer/ buyer at that age.. then  studied at FIT and with  apprenticed under may!

This is NOT an attack on you or the workshop... but a misconception that I am seeing in designers from countries with these programs and locally as to what is a BRAND!  I learned from one of the BEST fashion Branders only 10 years ago...

I have also sat in those workshops and know when and why they do not work... and it is not always about the content of the presentation but the context!  I design items that sell..  Very well, what I love is helping designers towards creating great product that sell and creating solid brand elements that consumers love!  When the designers have challenges I reach out to experts in various aspects and yes I see you have experience but there is something lost in translation when strong  “brands" are not selling!  I do not want to nor do I  plan to work within the confines of such programs! I prefer incubator type situations!

I see myself as a designers' advocate... and having repeatedly gotten complaints about these types of government program I have been looking into them... I do not think it is the program or the content; as well as most  program providers are VERY credible!  Something is being lost... in translation and it is cultural! Not just ethnicity but the independent designer has a unique culture that crosses geographic and race boundaries… it is a culture within the fashion sector!

You tell a designer that they can brand their business doing x, y, z... and they'll do X, Y, and Z and swear they are BRANDING...

When you investigate closer,  they would have  used their "FRIENDS' who have not heard this workshop... have no idea how to execute X,Y Z  on items that  are not  well designed products  and then they will shout X, Y, Z does NOT work!

Yes manufacturing is huge part of the cycle ... so too branding and marketing... I have learned from each and every  one including the customers and the designers who have attended  those workshops put up and planned by  "international countries and the world bank"...

I am Caribbean the governments who spend that money are often Caribbean... who have no idea, what to expect or how to select!

That Money is often designated to help designers... the government that hire are sometimes  "mine"...the money that is spent  comes and is intended for development and when  foreigners leave it the  communities that has to deal with the issue!

When my Caribbean designers fail or do not "get It".. I'm the one up from  1-4 AM trying to  explain to them .. So yes I am passionate about CORRECT information... because the person in that classroom is my friend mother and aunt or uncle! 

As subtle as that information is it's wrong... and if designers follow that  they  will not make the changes necessary! Sorry if I offend!

The workshop  may be relevant for MARKETING & Even Sales... but not  for building a Brand!

I listen to what they are NOT getting and doing  because sometimes  leaders and teachers may say  what needs to be said... but cannot "reach' them.  the words get lost in translation... If  you tell them  they'll come... But if you cannot deliver they'll eave!
My point is that the museum and large companies spend time money building solid products! Whether you market for zero or   spend a fortune you need a solid product and you need enough of that product to meet consumer demand!

And that bit that I learned from the urban marketing company  I work with.

What I am writing about is the belief that $25 can BUILD a brand...  had the statement read market or even sell your brand for Free
, I would NOT have had a problem!

(Now you understand why I cannot be in your workshops... presenters do not need me challenging them)

I work with the company that does distribution for the Brooklyn Museum and their Target First Saturday programs... was built up over time! ... Many will say it's social media but the  Museum spends thousands annually designing, printing and distributing fliers to local venues as well as ads in the traditional press and developing  solid programs... yet attendance fluctuates seasonally and depending on who's on the billing! It’s about product!

They spend it because they have it. I also have examples of brands that got the word out without spending the thousands. What I am saying is that yes in the perfect world you should have millions to spend on your new brand….but those are not the people I work with. I need to give them reachable tangible goals and steps to get there.

Aside:- Again NOT accurate, there are many “Fashion” Brands that sell lifestyle and “tee-shirts” and merchandise, emblazoned with messages on that lifestyle/brand… selling garments clothing that reflect that brand is another issue! That Workshop details Here... we are in no way  affiliated with workshop organizers!

Please note Brooklyn Fashion week  offers The 28 squared Designers Collective Program www.282ac.com

Designers are selected for participation for info and to be considered apply here! http://www.282ac.com/call/

Last update: 04-07-2011 19:33

Keywords : Globalfashion Production
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What is Branding- a conversation in design facilitation!
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Monday, 04 July 2011 14:37
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