In its simplest form, a brand helps distinguish one type of product from another. But for anyone looking to develop a brand from scratch, there’s so much more to consider. For example, there are brand attributes to think about, and questions around how the brand will be positioned in the market as well as how it will differ from other brands. And there are also legal considerations too.
In the fashion industry, the storytelling and narrative behind the brand is also as important as the brand itself.
For anyone looking to launch a brand or accelerate their fashion career, Parsons and WWD are offering a course on Fashion Branding as part of Fashion Business Essentials, which is powered by Yellowbrick and includes insights from Parsons’ faculty as well as industry experts.
The Fashion Branding learning module is composed of 32 lessons and covers how to name a brand, tell a brand story, build communications and public relations around a brand, and license a brand. The module includes how to build a web presence, create distinctive labeling and what it takes to build a brand digitally.
In one of the lessons, Jessica Couch, consultant and fashion technology expert, explained what a brand consists of, the role of a logo and using color schemes. “The brand consists of all of these, and also the types of models used, and even down to the words that you choose to describe your products,” she said. “All of these are essential. You must understand the mood that you want people to be in when they’re experiencing your brand. And you want to understand the aesthetics associated with it.”
Considering the pitfalls of a brand is also essential — especially when you are first launching a brand. During another lesson, Douglas Hand, fashion lawyer and partner at HBA LLP, said his personal hobby horse on this subject is eponymous brands.
“The biggest brands in the world are named after their designers, and even the great fashion houses of Europe are named after their initial designer; so there’s precedent for this,” Hand said. “But it puts the designer in a very difficult position once they need investment.”
Hand said investment from outside sources such as venture capitalists or private equity, “comes with degrees of control. If an investor invests in your brand, and your brand is ‘Douglas Hand’ and you are Douglas, and the investor wants 33 percent of the company that holds the trademark ‘Douglas Hand,’ they’re going to have a lot of things to say about how the ‘Douglas Hand’ name is used.”
Hand said the result of that scenario is taking one’s own legacy outside of one’s control. “If you look at Calvin Klein in the 1980s, his name sold on really cheap underwear, and they made a lot of royalties from that — but I don’t think he was very happy about having his name on cheap underwear,” he said.