Updated: Apr 15, 2022
"Strategic Branding" is defined, in my opinion, as the 'building of a culture'. How do we build a culture?
By responding to the following statement: "People like us stand for...".
You see, the direct marketer is focused on metrics. It's all about data. Most of the focus is on selling products and services to the masses - they look for the largest audience because they figure it shows the most promise.
"A certain percentage of this audience will buy, then we can recoup the cost of the ad. When we have a positive return, we scale!"
Branding goes beyond that. It's about the feelings created within a select audience. It's the impression we leave them with - the impression that encourages them to share our products and services with their friends, family, and associations.
If the statement goes: "People like us stand for...", we need to identify what that is.
I, as a graphic designer, am known for edginess and fun.
ChoosING a specific audience:
As a graphic designer, I want to focus on creating designs for clothing companies/clothing brands. Particularly, for a clothing brand that also stands for edginess and fun.
The change we seek to make:
The reason we're graphic designers in the first place is to entertain and spread ideas. We're opinionated, pensive people, and we're not afraid to show it. We're observant. We like to try things, and we're tired of the same old monotonous, "safe", "in the box" designs. Essentially, we're trying to spark joy in the lives of others. We're trying to generate new, exciting, fun emotions in people.
OUR audience's worldview:
The clothing brand dreams of breaking free from the typical, bland clothing, and seeks to create something very special for their audience. They don't want to distribute their apparel in big box stores. They dream of having hip, boutique shops in specific city centres. They want to leave a mark.
They want to have interesting, slightly provocative designs and patterns for new lines. They want to have a great relationship and connection with the right designer - so they can bounce ideas off each other. They want to have the type of love from their fanbase where they camp outside just to be the first in line for the new launch.
Anticipation for the next item coming out.
They believe in free speech. They believe in having fun, enjoying the time we're given on this Earth, and not taking things too seriously. They believe in quality, doing things right, and not cutting corners. They believe that if they can have an impact on just a small group of people, those people can go out and affect more people. Energetical contagion.
Now that we've painted a good picture of WHO we seek to serve and their worldviews, we'll need to figure out what kind of problem(s) they're having and offer a solution.
In this example, the clothing brand is still fairly young - let's say less than 2 years old. They've had a bit of success with a handful of products already, but they feel they've plateaued. Also, they're having problems getting repeat business - they've noticed their products are purchased as a "one-off" - as a "gag" gift.
Perhaps we can take a page from big corporations - oftentimes, they'll create the problem for which they sell the solution. The difference here is that I wouldn't be using this method in a manipulative or negative way. I'd create some sort of content (like a video series) aimed at Gen Z and/or Millenials.
In this very unique, entertaining, and addictive content, I'd make sure to invent terminology or catchphrases. These unique thoughts, or this unique language, would be the inspiration for designs. Why?
Firstly, you're creating a group people would be part of - "if you don't get the joke, you're not in the club". When you see someone else wearing something from this clothing brand, you instantly recognize them as a friend - similar to Harley Davidson.
Second, we'd have the opportunity to push the boundaries as much as we'd like, and only those who agree or resonate would partake. There's something magical that happens when you pick an extreme rather than the middle.
Third, having a group of insiders helps you come up with future products and ideas. You can go directly to the source.
The 'network effect' is created when the Millenial or GenZ fan of our video content shares it with their friends on social media. It also happens when they wear our gear when going to a party.
While I'm not a graphic designer, I'm only assuming all the above is possible.
Also, this is one of many possibilities.
If this is something you might be interested in implementing, simply leave a comment below or contact me.