How to market a clothing brand in 8 strategic steps
- A well-defined target audience is essential to market your clothing brand
- Your brand identity should appeal to your target market
- Spend extra time on the visuals—from your logo to your product photos
You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating your fashion line—but your work isn’t finished yet. Now it’s time to figure out how to market a clothing brand and capture your share of the $2 million spent on fashion each year. A marketing plan defines the tools and strategies you’ll use to advertise your clothing line to your target market.
This step-by-step guide will lead you through the marketing process, even if you’ve never done any marketing or sales before.
First, you’ll need to specify your target audience, craft a strong brand identity, create a website, and shape your marketing strategy.
Follow these eight steps, and soon you’ll have a bulletproof marketing plan for your brand.
1. Define your target audience
Most entrepreneurs like to think their product line will appeal to everyone. But the fashion industry is a crowded place, and you’ll find a better path to success if you carve out a specific niche.
Will the people who wear your clothes most likely be struggling college students or mature fashion mavens? Do they wear your fashions to the office, grocery store, or opera? People buy clothing to tell the world who they are. Determine if your target customers see themselves as polished professionals, bohemian free spirits, outsiders, or something else.
Define your audience as narrowly as you can, then translate your ideas into demographics. For example, outline your ideal customers’ age range, annual income, marital status, level of education, and other factors.
Knowing your target market is the foundation of marketing a clothing brand, so take your time with this step and be as specific as you possibly can.
2. Establish your brand identity
A brand identity is a personality that your business will project. Just like people wear clothing to express themselves, companies use colors, fonts, words, and images to tell the world who they are.
Your brand identity should appeal to your potential customers. For example, Nike uses short sentences, heavy fonts, and images of hardworking athletes wearing their clothing to send a powerful message to its target market. On the other hand, Prada uses images of runways and trendsetting models mixed with elegant fonts and seasonal colors to tie in with the opulent fashion world.
What is the personality of your clothing line? Is it whimsical, casual, cutting-edge, elegant, or rough-and-ready? You can tell your brand story using colors, fonts, and images.
Try to express your brand identity in five words or less—this will become your company tagline. When done right, your tagline can be immediately recognizable, convey a particular feeling about your brand, and stand the test of time. Examples of great fashion slogans include:
- Levi’s: A style for every story.
- Adidas: Impossible is nothing.
- Oscar de la Renta: Isn’t it time you got an Oscar?
- Nike: Just do it.
3. Design your logo
Once you define your image and who your target audience is, you can design your small business logo. Hiring a designer or working with templates using a free app like Canva can make this task much simpler.
For inspiration, look at logos from designers you admire—and remember to keep it simple. Your logo needs to look just as good printed on a handbag as it does on a T-shirt. The most iconic logos are super simple—think of the Chanel double C, the Hollister seagull, or the Tommy Hilfiger flag.
4. Schedule a photoshoot
Many people shop online these days, which means people can’t feel the fabric or even try things on. As such, you must have good product photos of your clothing line. According to Printful, “customers presented with high-quality product photos are 3x more likely to buy.”
You can take your own product photos or hire a professional photographer, in which case you’ll want to take your time choosing the right person. Try to talk to some of their clients to get direct input about their experiences, and peruse the photographer’s portfolio to see if their style fits with your brand.
Discuss your brand identity with the photographer and decide how to reflect your brand in the photos. The models, background, poses, and lighting in your photos will become a big part of your marketing, so choose wisely and create a signature look.
Take a look at some of your favorite fashion brands and notice how they tie all their photography into their brand image. Will your models be leaping in the air to convey youth and energy or striking poses against a brick wall to convey a more edgy style?
5. Create a brand identity kit
A brand identity kit is a quick reference that you and your team members can use to keep your branding consistent. Creating a kit will help build your company a strong identity and provide a great headstart on your marketing strategy. A comprehensive kit includes:
- A palette of 3-7 signature colors
- Two fonts, one for headlines and one for body copy
- Your logo in several forms: color, black and white, transparent, vertical, horizontal
- Your tagline
- A few social proof statements—evidence that other people like your clothes—such as quotes from customers, statistics, or a list of high-profile people who’ve worn your label
- A handful of your favorite images that capture the spirit of your brand identity and clothing line
Store your brand identity kit in a shared document that anyone who works with your brand can access. The kit will keep your marketing materials and social media posts consistent with your brand identity.
6. Build a website to market your clothing brand
You’ll need a website to act as a hub for your online marketing. If you’re not selling directly to the public, your website can feature lookbooks and information on where to buy your clothing line. Most fashion brands—especially startups—offer online shopping directly from their site.
There are ways to build a small business website for free, but you can also consider hiring a pro. Remember that your web designer is an expert at building websites but likely not an expert on how to market a clothing brand. Here are some items to discuss with them to ensure your website accurately reflects your brand:
- Sticking to the brand identity kit for consistency
- Choosing an e-commerce platform (such as Shopify) that makes it easy for you to add new products and for your customers to checkout
- Keeping your target market in mind (e.g., larger fonts for older people, trendier apps for a younger audience)
7. Strategize your marketing plan
Your marketing plan is a list of the tools you’ll use to get your clothing line in front of your target audience —social media, online advertising, shopping marketplaces, and so on—and your budget for each one.
One way to structure your plan is to consider the “buyer’s journey,” or the path a new customer takes from discovering your brand to becoming a customer.
Advertising and social media influencers are great ways to connect with a new audience and raise brand awareness. After that first connection, you might want them to go straight to your store and make a purchase if you’re an affordable brand. But if your clothing is more of an investment, you might want to invite them to follow your social media accounts or join your email list instead so that you can persuade them over time.
Many customers’ buying journeys include using Yelp to check out a business, so make sure you claim your Yelp Business Page and link to it from your website.
Here are some questions to answer as you build your marketing plan:
- Which social media platforms does your target audience use?
- What demographic groups (e.g., income, age, gender, location) will you target with digital advertising?
- Do they follow specific influencers, media, hashtags, or fashion bloggers?
- Which online marketplaces are they most likely to shop in (e.g., Amazon, Zulilly, eBay, Etsy)?
Ready to try Yelp Ads?
Put your business in front of more customers.Start advertising
8. Add the final touches
As you build a brand identity kit, website, and marketing plan, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your customer’s buying experience. For example, you can:
- Incorporate your brand identity into your packaging, labeling, and fulfillment as well as your website and marketing materials
- Create an email marketing plan and connect it to your online store so anyone who visits your site is invited to join your email list and new customers receive a warm welcome
- Create a calendar of holiday promotions, giveaways, and incentives to feature in your newsletter and social media outlets
Learning how to market a clothing brand can set you up for success
From defining your target audience and designing your logo to taking great product shots and building your online presence, putting together a successful marketing plan for your clothing business takes time and effort. But as with any meaningful endeavor, it’s well worth the effort.
As you fine tune your marketing efforts, explore the diverse benefits that online platforms have to offer with these social media marketing tips.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.