When you think of your favorite brand, what comes to mind? Colors? Fonts? Logos? While these elements are important to brand recognition, they don’t explain why people purchase from that company. For example, when I mention Nike, you might first see their famous Nike swoop. But is that what makes you want to purchase their merchandise?
What Makes a Good Brand?
Nike has spent decades telling the same story: People who wear Nike merchandise are brave, strong, and independent. Nike partners with prominent athletes for advertising, their ads depict people who ultimately win or dominate in their sport, and, whether you agree or not, they consistently take strong social justice stances.
All these things feed their brand personality. They understand that while having strong brand recognition – logos, colors, and fonts – is essential, the brand personality is what sells their products.
Cultivating a Brand
To create a brand that speaks to people, you will want to consider the story you want your company to communicate. This story should include the following things:
- Your mission and values. What does your company stand for? How do you give back to the community, whether local or global?
- Emotions. There isn’t an entire offshoot of psychology dedicated to consumer choices for nothing. Research tells us that emotions play a huge role in consumer buying and loyalty patterns. With Nike, the emotions could be pride or self-improvement. What emotions do you want your company to elicit?
- Your target audience. Nike commercials commonly depict people, typically between the ages of 20-40, in excellent physical shape. Nike then attracts people who appear or seek to appear like the folks in their ads. Ensuring that your target audience can easily recognize themselves in your brand’s story will prove crucial to its success.
Branding and Custom Apparel
Branded apparel is one of many ways to tell your brand’s story, and it can go a long way to help build brand loyalty. Athletic teams do the best job of building brand (or team) loyalty with their merchandise by creating a story about the kinds of fans who wear their merchandise. Philadelphia Eagles merchandise, for example, often reflects the rough edges often associated with their fans. They lean into the story of passionate, “hardcore” fans, driving consumer loyalty and sales.
Here are a few other ways that custom apparel aids with brand storytelling:
- Spreading the word. Custom apparel is a highly rated way of supporting businesses. Using images and phrases can help tell a story associated with your brand. If the apparel can elicit a conversation, you will likely see your brand spread.
- Team Spirit. There are often two primary reasons students cite for joining a club or organization in college. The first is their perception of the group (the story), and the second is the free swag. It allows students to feel part of something larger than themselves. This is the same in any organization. The feeling of camaraderie, fellowship, and understanding when everyone in your organization or group is wearing the same apparel is unmatched.
Cool logos can only go so far. It’s not enough to build a brand if there’s no story. But a well-crafted story built into a recognizable brand is sure to build customer loyalty and contribute to company success.