You Should Be Reading: Fashion and Branding

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In the world of fashion, branding plays perhaps the most important role in attracting consumers’ attention, interest, and dollars. The ways in which a company promotes its image and creates awareness of the brand can have a positive or negative effect on the consumer depending on his or her values. The three articles below highlight different aspects of fashion branding, from the effect that color can have on the consumer to the innovative branding strategies of online retailers and sustainable fashion brands. These articles will make you more aware of the ways in which brands seek your attention–we hope you enjoy!

1. Lapolla, K. (2014). ModCloth: A case study in co-creative branding strategiesGlobal Fashion Brands: Style, Luxury & History, 1(1), 85-102.

This article examines how to integrate co-creation into the foundation of a brand for female millennials by using ModCloth as an innovative example. ModCloth is an American online clothing retailer that specializes in vintage, vintage-inspired and indie designer apparel. The observational research uses the building blocks of co-creation (dialogue, access, risk assessment and transparency) defined by C. K. Prahalad and V. Ramaswamy as an initial framework for understanding approaches that invite and encourage customer participation in a brand. According to Prahalad and Ramaswamy, value creation is shifting from product-centric to personalized consumer experiences based on interactions between consumers, consumer communities and companies. An analysis of ModCloth’s company, e-commerce website and online community provides insights for opportunities to enhance company/customer interaction. This analysis extends the building blocks of Prahalad and Ramaswamy and is simplified into a new framework that places dialogue at the centre of a co-creative branding strategy. As a result of this research, the framework serves to illustrate dialogue as an entry point to access, risk assessment and transparency. — Full Article Abstract

2. Ridgway, J., & Myers, B. (2014). A study on brand personality: Consumers’ perceptions of colours used in fashion brand logosInternational Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 7(1), 50-57.

Creating a likeable, relatable brand personality is one way that fashion brands can connect with consumers and increase profits. However, few studies have investigated how consumers perceive personality traits from a fashion brand’s marketing communications. The colour used in marketing communications is a powerful tool that helps consumers to make inferences about fashion brands. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether, upon exposure to a brand logo, consumers will assign personality traits to the brand that correspond with commonly held colour associations. An online survey was conducted with a national sample to test the hypotheses of the study. Findings indicated that consumers attributed brand personality traits to brand logo colours according to commonly held colour associations for some of the colours in the study. Knowing how consumers perceive the colours used in brand logos will help marketers to convey the appropriate brand personality traits of their brand. — Full Article Abstract

3. Weiss, C., Trevenen, A., & White, T. (2014). The branding of sustainable fashionFashion, Style & Popular Culture, 1(2), 231-258.

The major focus of this article is to highlight the consumer’s understanding of sustainable practices in the context of fashion branding and how it relates to purchasing behaviour. The authors questioned 151 consumers through snowball surveys transmitted via social media to measure consumer receptiveness to sustainability as a marketing issue. They suggest there is potential value for both wholesale and retail companies to create sustainability standards and branding methods in order to highlight this important message; such efforts could include an industry-wide logo, trademark or rating system. The authors argue that a concerted educational campaign is needed to promote mainstream consumer awareness and adoption of sustainability standards. The results of the study show that consumers do value products made using sustainable practices. Moreover, when asked if it made a big difference in their purchasing decisions, the answer was yes, as long as the price did not increase significantly. The conundrum was that many respondents we surveyed just did not seem to fully understand the meaning of sustainability. As a result, the authors recommend a threefold action plan for the fashion industry: 1. Convey and educate in an easy, transparent way what sustainability means for the consumer, clarifying the myriad of mixed meanings within the industry; 2. Consolidate and streamline industry standards and create federal benchmarks for measuring the sustainability of fashion manufacturing processes. This will prevent companies from ‘green-washing’ their products through trumped-up advertising; and 3. Establish and publicize a standard sustainability logo, trademark or ranking system to provide consistent product labelling and allow consumers to choose sustainably manufactured products. — Paraphrased Article Abstract


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