(excerpt from Footwear Design & Manufacturing) 5 Elements of Brand Building…sort of like writing an essay. 

Designs by Tanita S. Gray - brand building.
Designs by Tanita S. Gray

When you think about starting a brand, don’t think about the product. Sounds absurd, right? Well although it seems counterproductive, branding has little to do with the actual product, but more about the vision and voice of the overall concept. So let’s say you want to start a shoe brand — you will be presenting the shoes yes, but what is the story behind the shoes you are designing?

Get in touch with brand storytelling. The connection it has with others is direct result of the brand’s vision. The way people relate to the product on an emotional level is the brands’ success. Quality and durability will determine the life cycle of the product. But what makes a brand iconic is its story. A product can break, be thrown away and forgotten. A story is timeless and lasts forever.

So crack open the third eye and dive into developing your idea and design your brand.

Start with developing 5 points of interest for your brand:

  1. What
  2. Why
  3. Who
  4. When
  5. Where

Sounds like the format for your first essay but that would not be too far fetched. You are creating essentially a short essay describing your brand. A little creative writing will be applied in this exercise. Write down 1 paragraph for each of the 5 points and get as elaborate as possible. Add some imagery to support your ideas as well.

Images are great visual aids because when we think of ideas we have these images and creative thoughts in our minds. Getting them out of your mind and down on paper is a great way to make your vision come to life. Get a out a pen, pencil and a journal or keyboard and develop your brand’s story.

5 elements of brand building.

1 — What 

What is this brand about? What purpose does your company serve? What is the reason behind this idea? Once you have stated the why reasoning, you can integrate a logo or brand image. Logos are visual aids to help people identify your brand. It is the WHAT balled up into one definitive image. Think the infamous NIKE swoosh. This artwork immortalizes your brand. Even a signature can be a logo. Whatever the vision of your brand — make it come through in your artwork. With little graphic skills, you can develop a logo. If you are not able to do this on your own, hire someone that can execute this integral part of brand building.

If you are good at illustration, sketch out your design and pass on to a graphic artist to bring your logo to life digitally. There are also some other great design tools you can use to help you. But the best way to bring out your passion is to sketch it out yourself (don’t worry about your drawing skills). Since you are the one with the vision, you are the best person to know what the logo should look like. A good graphic artist can take your primitive drawing and turn it into something fantastic and exactly what you want others to see.

2 — Why 

Why did you design this product? Why is it necessary? A designer is a problem solver. Telling us why you came up with this idea is like telling us how you will solve a problem. To solve a problem you first have to have, well, a problem. This is the WHY. Identify here if the why is fashion or trend motivated or is the why more profound like a medical, industrial or functional performance piece?

Any of these are all good “whys” to develop a concept. For example; I started this brand because I see a void in the commercialism of compression socks. I could not find any readily available in the market and in attractive colors and patterns…

The why promotes a solution to a problem and that attracts consumers to your brand.

3 — Who 

Who are you? It’s always refreshing to put a face with a name. Maybe you are starting a family footwear boutique and you want your customers to experience a family-friendly environment by showing off yours. Hang some photos on the wall behind the register. For sure customers will want to know who are the people in the photos. If you are running an online e-com site, a nice layout of who the team members are is a great way to share the faces behind the company’s vision.

Presenting who you are may have relevance to the product. A former podiatrist starting a house slipper brand can be a perfect combination. An outdoor enthusiast designing a collection of waterproof hikers with built-in tracking device. Knowing about the person or people behind the product and seeing the connection will make your consumers appreciate your validity. Camera shy? It is not necessary to show your face — just tell us about yourself and relevancy can be important. Tell us if your professional skill set has anything to do with the product or your passion.

4 — When

When did you come up with this idea? Think of this as a date of establishment. “Kickin’ it since 1995.” Give birth to your idea and nurture it. People can appreciate an idea that has some chronological milestones to talk about. Its ok if the idea just came to you today. But maybe its something you’ve always wanted to do. If the idea is brand-spanking new, then talk about how fresh it is. An idea born in 2018 may not have a long historical life, but maybe for you 2018 is the best year ever. No matter when you gave birth to your idea, it is always a great time to tell the world.

5 — Where 

Where are you located? Does it matter where you are located? No not really. However, if you found out your favorite designer lives in your hometown, would that motivate you to learn more about them? Every idea has a birthplace and where the idea hails from.

The where does not have to be your home. It can literally be the place where the idea was born. Were you inspired during a trip to Caribbean? Did the idea spark while commuting to work? Consumers can relate to locale same way they can relate to when, why, what and who. Concluding the where will bring the story together nicely.

So did you write all that down? Great. Now sit back and read aloud your brand’s story! Read it aloud and imagine a slideshow of images of your product going by…isn’t that a wonderful vision? Essentially you have just written your About Us page for your website or marketing collateral.

Along with your mission statement — these 5 essentials are very important for building and designing your brand. Your vision comes through with a clear and distinguishable brand story that consumers can relate to on an emotional level. Your story is what draws people to you and inspires others to believe in your product and share your information with others.

Want to know more?

  • This excerpt is part of Lesson #1 of the marco-course Footwear Design & Manufacturing. The course is just one of the courses offered in our Education & Training segment.

Please REGISTER HERE as the Lesson reveal is October 15, 2018.

Tanita Gray

Editor-In-Chief, Publisher and Founder of Last-Report.com, and CEO of Shoes Waste. Gray is a footwear, accessory and apparel designer/developer by day - writer and content architect by night. With over 17 years of experience in the fashion industry, you can find her teaching sustainability classes, drawing thumbnails, writing in her journal, giving her husband & children enormous hugs, or eating french fries.

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