32 of 2016

Newsletter No.32      09 September 2016

Brands Take on a life Of their own

By Glen Isserow – Prime Fastener

From humble beginning as the signatures of clay pot makers on the underside of their wares, logos have emerged as the calling cards for brands, transcending language and culture.

We are living in the Brand and Label age where you are defined and accepted by what you wear.   Not long ago famous brand names like Levi Strauss, Calvin Klein, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent were within reach only of the rich and famous, but now who within their immediate family or close circle of friends does not possess at least one, let alone a dozen international brands of apparel?

For an apparel company to succeed in today’s tough and competitive times, a crucial element of its success is to market a logo brand and/or promote company identity.  The magic of logos is that they begin to take on a personality, bringing to life their own character, style and formality, this derived from the underlying activities of the organisation that they symbolize.  Symbols have become global empires, instantly recognisable and crossing all race and language barriers.

In addition to symbols, company script, logo and font are of great importance to brand identification, such as the famous brand Calvin Klein, often represented only by the letters C.K.

What’s the fuss?

WCan a successful brand appeal to everybody?  No.  The concept of uniqueness and personal individual preferences makes certain that no one brand can possible have a universal appeal.  Further, it has been said that the power of a brand in inversely proportional to its scope in short, if the brand name is over exposed, the brand loses its power and uniqueness.

If expansion of your range is not always a good thing, why do so many companies over-sell their brand?  The answer is simple – in order to increase sales, which in the short term, it does.  But in the long term it undermines the brand name in the mind of the consumer.  So do you build the brand today in order to move merchandise tomorrow?  Or do you expand today to see its decline tomorrow?

Sales are not juhy is logo apparel branding so important?  And why do some clothing designers and retailers spend up to a third of the selling price of a garment on packaging?  Firstly, apparel branding adds value to the product and is therefore able to be sold at a higher price.  Secondly, it creates individualism and uniqueness, and thirdly, the branded item now appeals to a specific “type of person” through marketing and sales techniques.  Finally, apparel branding helps to prevent brand imitations, as most replicas are never quite identical to the original.

The logo branding of a garment can either take the shape of a brand name, individual letters or multi-coloured embroidery shouting out the logo name.  Alternatively, branding can be a subtle understated logo, letter or symbol on a jean rivet, zip puller or a back pocket sidewinder.  The accessories of a garment are the most revealing elements that witness its style, quality, attention to detail and finally its overall success in sales.  The garment designers and accessory suppliers need to work in close co-operation with each other to achieve a harmonic and consistently branded clothing collection.  Non-functional branded garment accessories are usually produced from woven or printed labels, ribbons, laser die cut badge or emblems of any shape, patched in plastic or woven material and name tags;  all the above are available in any shape, colour or size to meet the designers specifications.  While ‘functional’ branded accessories such as jean buttons, rivets, sew-on buttons, swing tickets that support the size, price and barcode, toggles, eyelets and press-studs, all fulfill a function at the same time enhancing, advertising and promoting the brand.

What is successful branding?

From a business point of view, branding in the apparel industry is the application of a name or symbol onto a garment.  A branded product should be designed so that it is unique and different from all other similar products available in the market place.  The power of a brand lies in its ability to influence purchasing behavior.  st a function of a brands power, sales are also a function of the strength or weakness of a brand’s  competition.   If the competition is weak or non-existent you can often increase sales by weakening your brand.  That is by expanding the brand to not only the apparel industry but to all additional non-apparel products.  Expanding the brand in the products for which you are known helps to maintain a loyal and brand-dedicated consumer.

To sum it up, brand line extension works while deviation and unfocused branding does not.

To build a successful brand, you don’t necessarily have to follow or imitate what successful brands do, but rather initiate and create new avenues or products.  Think of the steps and actions taken by a successful brand.  Here is one five-step plan to successful branding:

  • Narrow your focus by contracting not by expanding the product range.
  • Carry sufficient stock in the lines in which you specialise.
  • Negotiate and purchase wisely, maintaining high quality and value for money.
  • Sell at prices that are affordable to the market you target.
  • Dominate your product category – this is the ultimate objective of branding.

Marketing and Advertising your brand

Brand building and brand maintenance are two very different areas of marketing.   While large advertising budgets are needed to maintain high-flying brands like Levi Strauss and Daniel Hechter, advertising generally won’t get a new brand off the ground.  Publicity is generally free while advertising can cost the earth.  We live in an over-communicated society with tools like billboards, newspapers, magazines, Internet and SMS messages screaming out the advantages of millions of products.  Today brands are born, not made.  A new brand must be capable of generating favorable publicity in the media or it won’t have a chance in the market place.

The best way to generate this publicity is usually by being first.  In other words, by being the first brand in a new category.  When your brand can make news, it has a chance to generate publicity, and the best way to make news is to announce a new category, not a new product.

What others say about your brand is so much more powerful than what you can say about it yourself.  That’s why publicity in general is more powerful than advertising.   Today brands are built with publicity and maintained with advertising.  However, once the brand is up and running a shift from publicity to advertising is inevitable.

Advertising a brand does not necessarily buy you anything, but rather keeps you from losing market share to your competitors.  Leading brands should not look at advertising as an investment that will pay dividend, but rather as insurance that will protect them against losses caused by competitive attacks.

Advertising an individual branded product is not always as powerful as advertising the company who is responsible for the brand.  Consumers want to feel that they are purchasing the best product money can buy and like to be associated with this product.  Therefore, companies who advertise that they are ‘brand leaders’ with clever marketing strategies, generally appeal to the person on the street.  ‘Success through association’ is a well-known marketing tool.  People like to wear clothing from successful companies as this makes them feel successful.

If you want to build a brand you must focus your branding efforts on owning a word in the consumer’s mind.  Once a brand owns a word, it’s almost impossible for a competitor to take that word away from the brand.  Consider the following apparel brand names.  Carducci, Levi Strauss, Versace and Hugo Boss. Definitely brand labels.  Each brand conjuring up it’s own image.  The product itself might have a visual reality but it is the brand name and its associates that give the product meaning in the consumers mind.  Words are the key to building a successful and long-term brand.  When you use the right credentials to support the brand, the consumer is likely to believe almost anything you say about it.

The following are some credentials to support a brand:

  • The first brand to …
  • South Africa’s most popular …
  • SA’s largest selling …
  • The first brand of its kind to …
  • The brand leader in … (Never assume that people know which brand is the leader in a specific category)

Why do denim jean buyers pay R300.00 more for a pair of Levis, Calvin Klein, Guess or Diesel jeans?  Would they pay this price if the label were on the inside of the jeans instead of the outside?  These questions will draw varied replies.  If you want to build a powerful brand you have to build a powerful perception of quality, durability, cost effectiveness, consistency, reliability and innovation.  By narrowing your focus you become a specialist and not a generalist, and a specialist is generally perceived to know more.  In other words, a specialist is perceived to produce a better product than a generalist, and who doesn’t want to wear a better item of clothing!!

Brand Competition and Naming

Contrary to popular belief product competition is healthy even though the leading brand’s share might decline.  The rise of competitive brands can stimulate interest in a brand category, thus, in the long term increased public interest equals increased sales for all concerned.

The most important branding decision you will ever have to make is what to name your product.  In the short term your product has to be unique, the first in a new category and conjure up a word in the public’s mind, but in the long term, this uniqueness or concept disappears and all that is left to differentiate your product from the competition is your brand name.  The difference between brands is not in the product, but in the consumer’s perception of that product.  For example, the most valuable assets of the multi billion rand international Levi Strauss Company is the Levi Strauss name.

The art of branding has become a science, but why some brands never make it to the top remains a mystery. The key is to think like your target customer and your brand is more likely to be successful.

Mozambique firm forward integrates into weaving & stitching

Yarn producer Mozambique Cotton Manufacturers (MCM) is planning to forward integrate by investing around $35 million to set up weaving, dyeing, stitching and other support facilities. MCM is a partnership between one Mozambican and three Portuguese companies and will export these textile goods to newer export markets on the African continent.

“Stakes in MCM are held by Intelec Holdings from Mozambique and Mundotêxtil, Mundifios and Crispim Abreu all from Portugal, which had earlier invested $20 to set up the yarn production unit,” Mozambican media reported.

MCM is currently exporting 100 per cent of its output to South Africa and also Portugal, and will now export to countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), including the US. (AR)

Fibre2Fashion

Nigeria imports textiles & clothing worth $4bn per year.

“Nigeria spends over $4 billion per year on importing textiles and clothing,” a statement from Hamma Kwajaffa, director general at the Textile Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (TMAN) revealed.

“However, the country’s textile sector can manufacture textiles and apparels for the domestic market as well as for the countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” he said.

“These products can also be exported to the US under AGOA and to the European Union under its GSP scheme,” Kwajaffa added.

“He was but worried over the huge imports of textiles and clothing, which according to him, not only weakens the domestic industry, steals jobs and reduces government revenue,” Nigerian media reports said.

In the statement, Kwajaffa urged the government to address the eight challenges which were earlier brought to the notice of the government.

They include re-scheduling of the CTG loan facility, high tariff on gas despite fall in oil and gas prices, supplying fuel to industry, consistent supply of certified seeds to farmers and lastly allocating forex at official rates. (AR)

Did you Know………

Facts About Clothes Rationing In Britain During The Second World War

·    Women were still encouraged “to keep up appearances”

An Air Raid Precautions (ARP) volunteer applies her lipstick between emergency calls, c.1940.

In wartime Britain it became ‘unfashionable’ to be seen wearing clothes that were obviously showy, yet women were frequently implored not to let ‘standards’ slip too far. There was genuine concern that a lack of interest in personal appearance could be a sign of low morale, which could have a detrimental impact on the war effort. The government’s concern for the morale of women was a major factor in the decision to continue the manufacture of cosmetics, though in much reduced quantities. Make-up was never rationed, but was subject to a luxury tax and was very expensive. Many cosmetics firms switched some of their production to items needed for the war effort. Coty, for example, were known for their face powder and perfumes but also made army foot powder and anti-gas ointment. Make-up and hair styles took on an increased importance and many women went to great lengths to still feel well-dressed and stylish even if their clothes were last season’s, their stockings darned and accessories home-made. As with clothing, women found creative ways around shortages, with beetroot juice used for a splash of lip colour and boot polish passing for mascara.

To Advertise………………….. Click here to see fact sheet.

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