Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How To Get a Clothing Label Recognized by Department Store Buyers

women standing

When it comes to buying mass market products at a reasonable price, many consumers turn to budget retailers like Target or Amazon. For those interested in buying luxury goods, however, department stores continue to be the go-to shopping destination.

Brands that sell apparel and accessories labels have an immense opportunity to gain by selling to department store buyers. In addition to selling alongside coveted brands and luxury designers, department stores can increase the perceived value of a brand, making it easier to command a higher price point.

So if growing your clothing brand is a top priority, here’s how selling upmarket benefits your brand and your bottom line.

Brand Positioning

Selling luxury clothing is nearly impossible without a well-defined brand. To understand what your brand needs to succeed, Jim Snediker of the men’s lifestyle brand Stock MFG. Co., shares three important elements. These include:

  • identifying an initial target market
  • creating a compelling hook
  • telling a powerful story.

When selling to luxury consumers, creating a powerful story is perhaps the most important aspect of branding. That’s because a powerful story can elicit human emotion and make a customer feel more drawn to the meaning behind your product. Gautam Sinha, founder of deluxe leather goods brand Nappa Dori, says that customers “need to feel invested in the product and the story it carries and the experience they have from the time of entering the store to the time they make the purchase.” If a customer isn’t invested in your brand’s story, they’re not likely to shell out a pretty penny for it.

When considering how to move your brand upmarket, Carol Davies of branding agency Fletcher Knight recommends assessing your current brand first. If people already recognize your brand as a reputable and valuable force, it might make sense for you to maintain some of this brand recognition with a new product line. If you’re looking to create a high-end luxury item under a new label, it’s important to disassociate your brand from lower end products.

Most high end brands differentiate themselves from mass market brands through high quality imagery and powerful storytelling, according to fashion and tech reporter Hilary Milnes. Establishing your brand as a luxury label using these techniques can help you attract attention of department store buyers.


Establishing a Lifestyle

A key part of luxury brand positioning is establishing a certain lifestyle. Kylie Ora Lobell at Creator says that in the luxury marketplace, brands are selling an aspirational lifestyle. Whether its people who love to travel, stay healthy or simply celebrate life, all aspects of your brand need to communicate those ideals. Think about it this way: You want your customers to envision how your product enhances their lives and helps them reach their goals.

Social media is a great way to help establish and sell your label’s lifestyle. When choosing and curating these channels, digital media agency Graphic Alliance writes that it’s important to be selective. This means that instead of going over the top with imagery on every social platform, you should stick to just one or two medias. Tapping into the channels where your customers are most engaged and inspired allows you to have the greatest influence.

Creating Value

To sell a luxury item successfully, it’s important to understand how perceived value and worth relates to apparel items.

As explained by Cheryl Snapp Conner, founder of SnappConner PR, items perceived to be scarce are also seen as more valuable. Meaning, if your product is rare and hard to get, people will demand it more.

Creating limited edition collections, for example, can make a certain set of apparel designs feel finite. This creates a sense of urgency that compels people to buy. Lauren Sherman, editor at Business of Fashion, uses the example of a Hermés Birkin Bag to get this point across. Since they were first released over three decades ago, Birkin Bags have remained some of the most coveted handbags in the world. While the handbags are high quality – each made by hand by a single craftsman – it is their scarcity that has kept them popular.

To buy a Birkin Bag, a customer must have a relationship with a Hermés sales associate. As Sherman puts it, “to be sold a Birkin, you have to have bought one already.” Bags are released sporadically, and those who want one are put on a waitlist, which can sometimes last six months. By making it difficult to obtain a Birkin Bag, Hermés is able to drive high demand among luxury shoppers.

To create scarcity with your new label, marketing coach Vinil Ramdev offers a few tips. First, limit your channels of distribution. By selling only on your website, or only in a certain pop up shop, you can create a brand that feels rare and unique. Secondly, limit your production lines each season. Having a finite amount of product attracts consumers because they only have a small window of opportunity to obtain them.

mens wear

Expanding Luxury Appeal

Many of today’s leading luxury brands are looking to blend retail experiences with cutting edge technology. Creative agency Sideshow suggests using interactive retail stands to establish stronger customer experiences. These in-store stands are equipped with motion-activated screens, which provide information about products on the shelves. Similar stands can also be used to collect information about a customer’s preferences (such as which product they looked at) by tracking movement through smartphone frequencies.

This reflects a growing trend towards technology-driven retail experiences, which are becoming more popular in department stores. Brands that can show their interest in and commitment to technology may be more appealing to department stores because it shows that they’re willing to embrace new trends.

Diversifying Product Lines

Creating new collections and expanding product offerings is an important way to keep your brand fresh and relevant. Kelsey Lindsey at Retail Dive writes that by making new items available, both in-store and online, brands can attract a wider audience base. For brands with high-end customers, this is an especially important way to continue commanding a high price point. One way to diversify a product line – and grab the attention of department stores and luxury buyers – is to take advantage of trending events.

Fashionista west coast editor Dhani Mau points out that many brands have been using this strategy to capitalize on the buzz around Coachella. The music festival has become known for its fashionable guests, and many of the year’s top fashions are seen there. Brands are getting in on the buzz by creating festival collections and hosting specialty in-store events during the weeks leading up to the concert. This helps a brand become associated with Coachella’s fashion-forward audience, which includes celebrities and Hollywood icons.

Brand Partnerships

Associating your brand with another designer or store can have a similar effect. Osman Ahmed at Business of Fashion explains that partnering with another luxury brand can help attract that brand’s audience. Such a partnership can also help establish cultural relevance, which gives your brand lasting power.

When co-branding with another luxury brand, don’t be afraid that they’ll outshine you. According to Promo Marketing Magazine, having your logo appear next to a luxury brand on product packaging and marketing materials lends authenticity and value to your product.

Images by: StockSnap

The post How To Get a Clothing Label Recognized by Department Store Buyers appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Design Trends: What’s Driving Generation Z

girl shopping

When marketing and selling an apparel brand, it’s important to understand the trends and styles driving your target market. We’ve just discussed millennial trends — and how technology, minimalism and a splash of pink can win over that generation’s hearts. Now, it’s time to dive into Generation Z.

With many in their teens and early twenties, this group of young adults has an immense consumer influence that’s only poised to grow. Here’s how to tap into the right trends and develop brand loyalty with the next generation.

Understanding Generation Z

According to digital marketing expert Jennifer Shaheen, Generation Z commands a whopping 44 billion dollars in purchasing power each year. As an apparel brand, understanding what this generation wants is essential to your long term growth.

So where should you get started with this emerging demographic? For starters, brands need to understand how this generation values diversity and universal equality. In a study by Millennial Marketing, members of Generation Z said they prefer advertisements that promote racial, sexual and gender equality. They also prefer branded materials that feel realistic, rather than idealized.

One apparel brand that’s hitting both of these marks — and seeing huge financial gains because of it — is American Eagle. As pointed out by that company’s CMO, Kyle Andrews, Generation Z is less interested in big brands and designer labels. “They’re less brand-conscious and they are not spending as much as millennials do,” Andrews says.

The Importance of Value

In order to resonate with Gen Z, then, brands have to show what they value and how they make a difference. Simply being a big brand isn’t enough to sell.

Influencer and marketing strategist Nicolas Cole adds that just like millennials, Generation Zers are conscious about their collective ecological footprint. This means that they’re more interested in brands that are making a positive impact on the world. Accessories brands like Warby Parker and Toms are popular amongst this generation because they give back to people in need.

Another interesting point is that Gen Z’s commitment to ethical brands is inspiring change within the fashion industry. Emine Saner, feature writer at The Guardian, says this generation is introducing a change in mass consumption. Rather than gobbling up any new fashion trend just because it’s emblazoned with a certain brand name, members of Gen Z are careful and conscientious about their purchasing habits.

Yael Aflalo, founder of the clothing brand Reformation, explains that “people are actively looking to make a change. They want to know more about the “how” and the “who” behind the clothes they wear – to understand the story behind their clothes.” The moral of this story? Creating a message of giving, sustainability and authenticity — and incorporating that into your in-store retail strategy — can go a long way in helping to attract and retain these customers.


Self Expression

Generation Z’s desire for inherent value is just as important as their need for self expression. Wearing a brand that everyone else is wearing makes these consumers feel like everyone else, when in reality all they want is to stand out.

Investor and Gen Z consultant George Beall says brands help Generation Z stand out against their peers. This is especially true on social media, where trendy, expressive photos can thrust a teenager into instagram fame. To tap into this trend, try positioning apparel brands as vehicles for self expression.

The retail business blog Fierce Retail writes that nearly 60 percent of Gen Zers say they prefer to create their own fashion statement. Hang tags and other printed brand materials can be used to reinforce this message, helping consumers feel a sense of self ownership when they wear and interact with your brand.

Short Attention Spans

If there’s one thing brands should know about Generation Z, it’s that they can’t stay still for long.  Marketing expert and influencer Deep Patel says this generation has incredibly short attention spans.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t able to concentrate or get tasks done. It’s simply due to the digital environment in which they were raised, and how they learned to process information. To reach these customers and grab their attention, it’s important to make an impression as quickly as possible.

Marketing and creative agency Zion & Zion says that marketers can attract consumers by keeping all messaging simple and clear. Sometimes, this means eliminating wording altogether and opting for impactful imagery.

Photographer and design expert Igor Ovsyannykov says image-heavy hang tags are a great way to influence the consumer to buy your product. For example, on a hang tag for a blouse, an image might showcase that blouse being worn with a bottom or a skirt that your brand also sells. This strategy works well for gifts, because a compelling and visually-stimulating hang tag can make a person feel excited and happy — emotions you’d want your friend or family member to feel when receiving a gift.


Design Trends

Brands can also tap into short attention spans by utilizing the latest trends in graphic design and color. Digital Arts staff writer Miriam Harris points out that millennials and their younger counterparts are drawn to simple lines and bold color patterns, much like the designs seen on digital interfaces. Brands have also been modifying their logos to align with this trend. Simple, square-shaped logos that are unified in color work well both on digital and print surfaces.

Plus, having a logo that easily translates across different mediums helps a brand establish a consistent and more memorable image. Steff Yotka, fashion news and emerging platforms editor at Vogue, adds that unfiltered content is essential for today’s brands. She says that Gen Zers want to see authentic imagery and models that aren’t photoshopped. When incorporating images into a hang tag design, keep in mind the appeal of realness and truth.

The Power of Simplicity

Another way to keep your hang tag simple is add a clean, minimalist brand name.

Accessories designer Jenny Luckett of January Moon uses this strategy on her hang tags for teething jewelry — stylish jewelry for moms that’s safe for babies to bite. Featuring a white circle with a clean, gray font, these hang tags are bordered by a bright pop of color. This design helps allude to a childlike feeling, which supports the main theme of the jewelry. It also helps draw in young mothers and their friends and family, and the simple brand name gets to the point and remains memorable.

Full-service inbound marketing agency Weidert Group adds that content should be well-organized and created for skimming. Although this strategy is typically applied to digital mediums, remember: Generation Z lives in the digital world. So even when you’re printing print brand materials, you should be following this same approach.  

Real World Shopping Experience

Despite a recent trend towards online shopping, Generation Z is still committed to buying in stores. In fact, Fashionista associate editor Maria Bobila writes, a full 90 percent of Gen Zers prefer traditional in-store experiences. This means that apparel brands shouldn’t skimp on their in-store marketing and branding efforts even as they ramp up online selling goals.

Bobila adds that brick and mortar stores allow Generation Z to get closer to brand experiences, satisfying their need for authenticity. It also helps them discover brands and stores that represent their personality and goals in life, which in turn meets their need for self expression.

Images by: StockSnap, Jan Vašek

The post Design Trends: What’s Driving Generation Z appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Branding for Millennials: Best Practices and Trends

man shopping

The millennial generation comprises a signification portion of today’s consumer base. These twenty and thirty-somethings are also responsible for defining many of the trends that brands use to market their products. And when it comes to apparel, the competition is fierce.

How can your clothing line stand out in millennial minds when there are so many other brands vying for the same customers? To help you answer this question, here are the most important design and branding trends driving millennial shoppers today.

Positioning Your Brand for Millennial Consumers

So, where to start? Millennial marketing expert Jeff Fromm explains that millennials are largely interested in authenticity. Brands who convey a humanistic approach in their marketing are more likely to resonate with those consumers and build brand loyalty. Employing these strategies on your hang tag can take many forms.

First off, consider how to create hand-drawn elements on your hang tag. Ryan McCready, content editor and data analyst at Venngage, says that brands are reaching towards hand-drawn illustrations and graphics. This makes products seem more accessible and aligns with the millennial generation’s need for authenticity. Hand-drawn images are a step away from corporate imagery and feel more natural and honest.

Kavita Daswani at Style offers another idea for targeting millennials through hang tags. She uses the example of a luxury swimwear and resort brand that wanted to create a more intimate brand experience through closer customer connections. They approached this goal by investing in educational hang tags that have details about where the garment’s fabric mill is located and how the product was made. This anchors the garment to a place and a story to show why it’s special.

The target group is also passionate about business ethics and eco-friendly practices. The marketing organization SEMPO says that 87 percent of millennials believe that brands exist not just to make a profit, but to make a difference in the world. Being more transparent about your practices, or touting a sustainable commitment, can help please these earth-minded customers.

Copywriter and lifestyle journalist Philip Mak adds that 70 percent of millennials are more willing to spend money on a brand that does good in the world. This means that making a sustainable move on the corporate level – and marketing that through a hangtag – can have a huge impact on your bottom line. It’s also important to be personal with this message, helping the consumer understand how your product fits into their commitment to make the world a better place.

girl millennial pink

Millennials and Technology

According to Millennial Marketing, a site dedicated to helping brands understand this cohort, 58 percent of millennial consumers feel more loyal towards brands that create multisensory experiences.

Multisensory interactions can be created in a variety of ways, including virtual reality and other technologies that blend the physical with the digital. Perhaps the best way to bridge this gap is through new mobile technology. Michael Wang, President and CEO at Onestop Internet, says that brands that want to engage with millennials must focus on mobile experiences. This is because the majority of millennials use their mobile phones to browse products and make online purchases.

Hi-Tech Hang Tags

Modern brands are capitalizing on this passion for technology and excitement in a variety of ways.

Journalist and tech consultant Rachel Arthur explains how handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff incorporated technology into her hang tag design. Before Fashion Week 2017 in Los Angeles, Minkoff released ten limited edition bags featuring tech-enabled hang tags. When scanned by a phone, the hang tags revealed a free ticket to Minkoff’s Spring/Summer runway event. This tech debut wasn’t just a one time event: It served as an announcement that all of Minkoff’s handbag hang tags were going to be tech enabled in the future. This strategy helps meet the millennial need for instant satisfaction while also bridging the gap between fashion and technology.

Another innovative approach to hang tag technology is incorporating a QR code for scannable coupons and access to brand social sites. QlikTag says that this makes it easier for millennials to share their experiences with others. Organic, peer-to-peer sharing is one of the most influential ways that brands can discover new customers. By simply tweaking your hang tag design to incorporate new experiences, you can harness this strategy for your brand.

mobile shopper

Millennial Color Trends

Millennial color preferences play a large role in how apparel companies market their brands. To make sure you’re incorporating millennial ideas into your hang tags, it’s important to stay updated with what colors are in – and which ones are out.

Betsy Mikel at Inc. writes that millennial pink is a popular color many millennial-driven brands are turning towards. Imbued with tones of peach and salmon, this is neither a bright pink or a baby pink. It’s also a slight departure from the 2016 Pantone color of the year, rose quartz, which has been splashed across pop culture in varying forms.

Another popular millennial color is beige. Reflecting a shift towards naturalism, creative consultancy FranklinTill says that the popular pink color will lean more towards a more neutral tone in the coming future. This reflects concepts of purity and a closeness to nature, and beige tones are showing up more and more in branded materials.

Typography Trends

Inspired by the glitz and glamour of the Great Gatsby days, luxury-driven millennials are drawn to gold foil lettering. In branding, gold type is often set against dark backdrops that evoke a sense of elegance. Adrienne Wolter, team coach at WebpageFX, explains that this trend is showing up across the most popular pinterest pins, DIY blogs and even wedding invitations. This shows that it’s a current design element that won’t be going away anytime soon.

Geometric designs and bright pops of color are also taking over typography, Envato editor Brittany Jezouit says. This old school look caters to millennials, who are obsessed with the pop culture and design trends of the 1990’s. She adds that mismatched fonts and creative type pairings are gaining popularity on printed branding materials. This is a smart way to grab the attention of a millennial audience and create an exciting contrast.

The Future of Millennial Branding

Staying up to date with the latest trends affecting millennials can be challenging. Communications consulting for Remake.world Lauren Friedman offers a few tips for how brands can remain in the know.

She recommends social listening as a key way to garner customer feedback, adding that watching social media posts and descriptions can help a brand determine how customers feel about certain products and styles. This can help you see what the millennial generation is enjoying about your brand’s marketing materials, and also where you might need to improve.

Images by: bdcbethebest, StockSnap, antoniadiaz/©123RF Stock Photo

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

15 Brands Using Technology to Lead the Apparel Revolution


Clothes provide us with warmth, coverage and protection from the elements. They also allow us to express our feelings and embrace our own styles, helping us fit in with or stand out from the world around us.

These days, though, clothes are capable of much more than that. From solar-powered charging jackets to health monitoring performance tops, modern designers and clothing brands are redefining the functionality of clothing. Read on see what these brands have in store — and what it means for the future of apparel.

The Unseen

Pioneered by award-winning “material alchemist” Lauren Bowker, The Unseen creates accessories that change colors based on environmental factors. Bowker’s line includes everyday items like backpacks, phone cases, scarves and more. The accessories change color when exposed to heat, light, pressure, wind and body temperature. They also transform when night turns to day and adopt new identities with each changing season.

Pauline van Dongen

While her home office is in the Netherlands, this emerging fashion designer is gaining global attention. Pauline van Dongen’s solar windbreaker incorporates integrated solar panels that harness their own energy. It collects enough energy to charge a cell phone or GPS device. The jackets were designed with nature reserve guides in mind, enabling them to use their phones and GPS devices even while they’re off the grid for ten hours or more.


Nanotex is a textile retailer that provides innovative fabrics to apparel lines. Their line of products ranges from odor control fabrics for professional clothing to athletic fabric that wicks away moisture and keeps the wearer cool. Nanotex also creates fabrics that resist stains, spills and water from the outdoor elements. These advanced fabrics make use of a hydrophobic layer, which allows liquids to bead up and roll off of materials rather than soaking in.


Gensole leverages human foot scans to create customized 3D-printed shoe insoles. These insoles were designed by Steve Wood of Gyrobot, who’s an expert at creating flexible and malleable 3D printed materials. The shoe insoles are designed on a computer, then printed with varying material densities. This allows the shoe to support certain areas of the foot, like the arch, while reducing painful pressure in others. The insoles can also be printed with perforated holes to support airflow.


Auria creates fashionable, eco-friendly bathing suits made from recycled fishing nets, old carpets and other types of nylon waste. Since being founded, Auria has rescued thousands of tons of nylon waste from countries including the USA, Egypt, Greece, Pakistan, Norway and Turkey. Auria also collects waste directly from the ocean itself. Once collected, the waste is shipped to Slovenia where it’s transformed into an innovative yarn called ECONYL. Materials made from this yarn are 100 percent regenerated and recyclable.


Wearable X

This clothing line focuses on combining technology and clothing design to create movement-focused apparel pieces. One of the most popular Wearable X designs is its football fan shirt. The jersey helps fans embody the spirit and energy of a game by transmitting live sports data directly from the field to the electronics within the material. This means that everything on the field — from touchdowns and fumbles to turnovers and interceptions — are felt through haptic vibrations.

Modern Meadow

Modern Meadow creates high-quality leather goods that rely on biology and materials science to create durable, cruelty-free collagen. In the same way that oil and petroleum led materials innovations in the last century, Modern Meadow believes that biofabrication will define the future of technology. Its leather production processes are extremely low impact and can be scaled infinitely, making it a viable alternative to animal and oil-based materials.


Spiber harnesses spider silk to create sustainable, outdoor apparel. Tougher than steel (by 340 times), spider silk demonstrates how natural proteins can be used to create dynamic and powerful materials that don’t harm the earth. Spiber says fabrics made from proteins are extremely dynamic and customizable, and can be mixed with other natural proteins to mass produce new fabrics. The company recently launched a collaboration with The North Face, helping them market their protein-based materials on a large scale to everyday consumers.


This brand’s outdoor apparel was designed for the age of personal technology. ScotteVest creates versatile jackets with a multitude of pockets. These pockets include space for life’s gadgets, including cell phones and headphones, cameras, chargers, sunglasses and wallets. Freeing women from purses and men from trying to fit everything into traditional pockets that were too few and small, these vests and jackets make it easy to enjoy outdoor adventures without having to worry about where one’s valuables are kept.


BioLogic is a project from MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group. Essentially, BioLogic harnesses the power of natural behaviors and organic movements to create smart apparel that changes form. Specifically, BioLogic uses a bacteria that responds to atmospheric moisture. When the bacteria is woven into textiles for apparel, the clothing itself expands and contracts based on the amount of humidity it’s exposed to. Since the bacteria’s cells expand when there’s more moisture in the air, BioLogic’s clothing becomes more breathable when worn by someone who’s working up a sweat.

connected clothes


OMSignal designs clothing that bridges the gap between the clothing and the person who wears it. So far, they’ve been focused on creating clothing that monitors and sensors the body, giving cues and information to the wearer. One product that accomplishes this task is a sports bra called the OMbra. It’s the first bra that combines data on heart rate and breathing to give women a more accurate read of their body’s athletic performance. These reads come from small embedded biosensors that capture information in real-time, using bluetooth to stream that data to your iPhone.


Hexoskin is a brand that makes smart athletic shirts that capture precise data about the wearer’s heart rate and breathing rate. They also obtain information regarding an activity’s intensity, steps taken per day, peak acceleration and sleep positions. These smart shirts have over 14 hours of battery life and easily connect to an iPhone, an iPad or android phone via bluetooth. Hexoskin offers a variety of clothing options for fitness, including short and long sleeve tops for both men and women.


Athos is another performance-based apparel brand, yet it’s focused specifically on the movement of muscles. Athos also differs from other smart sportswear brands because their technology is great for helping injured athletes recover and get back on the field faster. Athos’ layers extract extensive heart rate and muscle data and sends it directly to an app, where the information can be viewed by players and coaches.

Cityzen Sciences

Cityzen Sciences works with apparel brands to create connected fabrics that harness and evaluate large quantities of data. The smart wearable creator has worked with companies to create clothing like a smart bra that monitors posture and performance, and a rugby shirt that evaluates both the physical and physiological state of players on the field. Cityzen technology can be adapted to any fabric, across sectors.


Owlet is another health tracker, but this one is designed specifically for infants. These smart wearables, including socks and onesies for babies, provide new parents with peace of mind about how their little ones are doing. Data is sent directly to an app that includes historical heart rate, oxygen levels and sleep trends, making it easy to compare and contrast new information.

Images by: Free-Photos, StockSnap

The post 15 Brands Using Technology to Lead the Apparel Revolution appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Creating The Perfect Sports Swag for Your Clients’ Next Event

tshirt design

Having a client in the sports industry provides endless opportunities for promotional marketing. Whether it’s a golf event for charity or a club team basketball game, each has its own unique audience.

If your client wants to hand out promotional swag at their next sporting event, it’s essential to understand what that audience wants and needs. Here’s how to market to those desires through on-brand swag that promote your client’s brand and creates a lasting impact.

Choosing The Right Swag

When deciding which type of materials will be best for your client’s sporting event, consider the audience of that event. A men’s basketball event likely has many millennials in the audience whereas a golfing event is more likely to have members of the entire family present, including children and older generations.

That’s why in order to have a powerful impact, branded items need to be carefully targeted to the right audience, Tim Donnelly at Inc. writes. A brand also might benefit from testing out a new promotional product that differs from what they’ve offered in the past. If they typically hand out water bottles, for example, offering a patch or a t-shirt might help attract some attention.

Informz adds that changing promotional materials also helps promote a company’s agility. Being agile helps a company adapt to the changing tastes of its audience, which can improve its overall success rate.

promotional shirt


T-Shirts are a popular form of promotional marketing that sports fans never tire of. When you’re helping a client choose a promotional tee, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

First of all, it’s important to discuss the brand’s desired goals:

  • Who is the target audience for the promotion?
  • What is the intended impact on the brand?
  • How will these goals be measured?

Minuteman Press explains that all of these factors need to be considered before jumping into a design. This helps you present the brand with tangible results later on, further increasing the chances that customers become repeat customers.

On that note, brand promotion should always be the a key goal of a promotional T-shirt design. Talkroute explains how tees are great conversation starters, especially when labeled with a company’s brand name. This prompts people to ask the wearer about the brand, which usually ensures in a brief elevator pitch about your company and what it does. The result? Free peer-to-peer marketing amongst curious, like-minded consumers.

Once you’ve established the goal, it’s important to create a design that’s on-brand. If it doesn’t include a company’s logo, slogan or other brand elements, it won’t serve its purpose as a promotional item.

According to Printsome, it’s important to sit down with a company and discuss their brand and style guidelines. By reviewing fonts, colors and logo specifications, you’ll ensure that the tee effectively communicates the brand’s values. The design should also be scaled to size, so it’ll look balanced when worn on someone’s body. Alex Bigman explains that properly weighted design elements help a T-shirt design become more flattering, which in turn increases the changes it’ll be loved and worn often by the owner.

Size and Style

Sizing is another important consideration, especially when marketing to millennials.

Kristin Sundin Brandt of Sundin Associates explains that promotional shirts need to appeal to both genders. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, offering tees in a women’s fit increases the chances that women will actually wear the shirt (and therefore promote your brand). This ensures that your brand is accurately represented by a broader pool of people, making the promotion more universally appealing.

If your client wants to go above and beyond the average T-shirt, consider hoodies, tank tops and other apparel. Amber Lee at Bleacher Report gives the example of a Dodgers hoodie being a great freebie. Since official sports gear is typically expensive, this giveaway had fans jumping for joy. If your client happens to be the sports team itself, work with the team to create branded items that look and feel like official team uniforms.


Sports Patches

Similar to T-shirts, patches are a powerful way to promote a company or brand.

Advertising patches are becoming more common on major leagues sports jerseys, which boosts their popularity among fans and everyday consumers. Specifically, it’s becoming a popular advertising method for NBA teams. According to Will Jarvis at Ad Age, the NBA has always been ahead of other sports in terms of branding, and its longstanding history and global fame has helped it become a leader in sports branding.

Business Insider sports editor Cork Gaines explains another reason that the patches trend is gaining momentum so fast. Gaines says advertising patches promote actual business partnerships that a team and the business are proud of. Pairing the patch with the team brand on a jersey shows the bond that these two businesses have, mutually benefiting them both. One team, Utah Jazz, uses the advertising space to promote a charity, which helps reflect its values as a team.  

Patches in Action

Sportswriter Jimmy Carlton tells the success of another team, the Milwaukee Bucks, sponsored by Harley-Davidson. The iconic patch is placed opposite the Nike logo on the jersey, effectively becoming part of the uniform itself. Sean Cummings, Harley-Davidson’s senior vice president of global demand, calls the sponsorship a perfect fit, because the brands complement each other and says that “the crossover appeal can grow both fan bases.”

Looking at trends on the major leagues level can help you think about what type of swag might be popular at club, college or charity sporting events. Think about how popular teams wear advertising patches and how they market those through swag.

In addition to wearing patches on jerseys, many sports players and fans wear patches on plain ball caps. Golf Digest’s Ashley Mayo writes about official U.S. Open hats that featured a branded patch decal. Since this is a trend happening at one of the largest professional golfing events, it will probably be relevant at lower levels of the sport, too.

When you give away patches at an event, you can feature a patch on a baseball cap as an example of how it can be worn. This adds a usefulness to what your client is giving away and makes it more appealing. If your client has more than one sporting event, creating a promotional calendar can create excitement and energy around your team’s giveaway. Matt Snyder at CBS Sports explains that many teams get creative with their promotional calendars, which helps them stand out amongst other teams. When your client’s giveaways go beyond the predictable, they will been seen to set the bar and and stand out above the competition.

Images by: Alterio Felines, Pexels

The post Creating The Perfect Sports Swag for Your Clients’ Next Event appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How to Elevate Your Brand with a Well-Designed Hang Tag


Providing information about a product and the brand that made it, hang tags are an everyday part of shopping. Consumers don’t think too much about what the tag means or how it affects them.

But as brand owners, we know just how much influence a hang tag has. And in truth, the colors, designs and information on a tag provide subtle, yet powerful clues that influence brand relationships, product perceptions and purchasing decisions.

Here’s how to create a powerful and eye-catching hang tag design that drives brand awareness and revenue.

The Role of Hang Tags

Hang tags are an opportunity to reach your target customer, so design them with your buyer persona in mind. Themes, design choices and color palettes should all be centered around your customers’ needs and desires. Hang tags also reflect your brand identity and reinforce your company values.

As shown in a design roundup by graphic artist Yesta Desamba, hang tags can display the same design elements as those found on the inner garment tag, button and outer garment tag. The Rare Collection is an example of a brand that achieves this goal, modifying its colors and sizes for each tag while adhering to the same logo design.

Having a creative hang tag can help you stand out from the competition. Kelly Morr at 99designs writes that packaging design serves the purpose of standing out on the shelf. For apparel brands, whose products are often hanging or folded rather than packaged, hang tags serve as one of the focal points for brand differentiation. This is another reason why it’s so important to display your logo on your hang tag.

And it’s okay to opt for a large logo on your hang tag. You want people to see and remember your brand right away, and a big, bold logo can help accomplish this.

Product Information

Regardless of design and style, a hang tag should always include details about your product. If it’s a piece of clothing, incorporating the item’s size and materials are a good place to start.

Lumi, a packaging design company for online brands, explains how these seemingly ordinary bits of information can be displayed creatively. Tobacco Road Purveyors, for instance, has a space for sizes small-2XL on its label. Once the tag is attached to a garment, the size is circled in a pen by hand. This handcrafted touch makes the tag a bit more personal.

clothes rack

Technology and Hang Tags

A recent trend in apparel tag design is incorporating digital environments into physical tags. According to Apparel Magazine brands may opt to incorporate shopping experiences into their hang tag design by adding a scannable code or picture. These images, when scanned by a smartphone, take a consumer to a branded web page or shopping site that encourages brand interaction. In addition to helping a brand stand out from competitors, this method also helps create a strong brand experience that customers remember.

Hang Tag Design Inspiration

When choosing imagery and design elements for your hang tag, it’s important to opt for something that reinforces your brand.

Graphic designer Cole Baldwin showcases a beer label design that takes traditional hang tag functionality to the next level. This hang tag features multiple pages, which go into detail about the beer’s history and how it was made. The brand’s colors and fonts reflect the bold and experimental nature of the homemade craft beer brand. The tag also displays fun, on-brand taglines, contact information and social media tags.

This approach would work especially well for a local or small-scale brand that has a strong story to share with customers. The design shows that your hang tag doesn’t have to be limited to a single tag. In fact, many brands are experimenting with layered pieces of paper and plastic to create more interactive tags. Graphic designer Callie Teetaert created apparel tags for We Happy Few, who sold locally made clothing. She layered multiple pieces of textured paper, evoking a rustic theme and playing up the brand’s commitment to handcrafted merchandise.

Another way to incorporate different materials into your hang tag is to consider recycled items and unwanted fabrics. Menswear boutique shop McKilroy covers its tags with cheesecloth and textured paper. The cheesecloth covers the logo, adding another layer of texture. It also makes use of a material that isn’t used all that often today — a nod to the hands-on production methods of days gone past.

design inspiration

Hang Tag Style

Brands can also experiment with the size and shape of their hang tags. Neat Designs shows hang tags that are circular, oval-shaped and varying sizes of rectangles. If your brand is more traditional, it makes sense to stick with a classic tag shape that your audience will find familiar. If you’re a more experimental brand and you’re trying to target young people or those who are more creative, there’s more room to play with tag size and shape.

Attaching your tag is another important consideration. What materials will you use? How will the tag connect to the garment? Catalpha explains that hang tags can be attached with anything from swift tack and zip ties to different types of string.

Beyond the Tag

The main purpose of a hang tag is to display information about a company and its product. However, that doesn’t mean the tag can’t serve a greater purpose.

Creative agency HOOK designed a tag for Grady Mac, a denim brand. This design is letterpressed and uses traditional script for a classic vibe that evokes feelings of heritage and history. The tag is versatile, serving as an envelope holding four informational cards about the brand and the product.

Another way to repurpose a hang tag is to make it double as a business card. One side can serve as a regular hang tag, with information about the product and its uses. The other side can include business card and contact information. This creates a more interesting experience when someone’s reading the tag, plus it saves money and paper on printing.

Images by: BRRT, Daiangan, itsbytespixels

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How Great Swag Turns Customers into Loyal Brand Ambassadors


Consumers are bombarded with digital advertisements and online marketing content every time they go online. These tactics have become so common that many people tend to tune them out.

If you want to transform customers into brand ambassadors, swag might be the best option for you. Even in the digital age, promotional products remain a highly effective way to target audiences and establish brand relationships. Here’s how to create memorable, modern swag that earns loyal brand ambassadors.

Consumer Expectations

There’s no debating it: consumers love free stuff. But could it be true that your customers expect you to give them something? As explained by Brains On Fire, they just might. In multiple studies, consumers said that they expected some sort of promotion or freebie in exchange for liking or following a brand. At the same time, few of the CMO’s surveyed said that they thought their customers expected something in exchange for brand engagement.

This shows that there’s still a huge market opportunity for brands to connect to their audiences by meeting their expectations through promotions. It also shows that there might not be many other brands in your industry giving away swag at random, and that there’s an opportunity to surprise customers with swag when they aren’t expecting it.

Aligning Swag with your Brand

From t-shirts to tote bags, branded swag has the ability to forge a lasting and memorable impact in the minds of consumers. But if you don’t choose the right items for your customers, you could be missing out. That’s why it’s important to make sure your swag is well aligned both with your brand and your needs.

Kristie Notto, author and host of the podcast Be Legendary, says that you can choose something that aligns with your brand’s theme. Since she’s promoting a book called Ignite Your Impact, branded lighters would be a great way to reinforce their message. Aside from aligning swag with your brand message, ThriveHive points out that swag should cater to your customers’ behaviors and fit into their lifestyles. Think about it this way: if a piece of swag is irrelevant to someone, why would they even want it? Instead, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think what they might really want. As Corporate Specialities puts it, swag provides an opportunity to impress your customers and elevate their brand experience to the next level.


Successful Swag

Creating love for a brand can be equated to building a sports team following. Stephanie Wheeler of Boundless explains that the most successful brands build communities around their brand. Regardless of where people come from or what they do in life, they can all unite around their same love for a sports team. Similarly, brands can help cultivate this feeling by helping people unite and come together around a shared item.

So what kind of swag creates a sense of community? As pointed out in Monaica Ledell’s website Truth Hacking, the best swag is memorable, shareable and useful. When your swag achieves all of these elements, it’s much more likely to stand out in consumers’ minds and make an impression.


Successful swag evokes emotion in the hearts and minds of consumers. To create this emotional connection, your swag should be customized. The Noise Lab suggests providing a selection of related, yet differentiated items to let customers to choose what they want. This allows you to create a conversation with people, asking them why they chose what they did. Once you open up this door to conversation, you can also ask people to share their swag on social media and spread the word to their friends. This creates a stronger experience with your brand and helps the consumer feel connected to it.

You can also tug at your customers’ heartstrings by personalizing your swag. For example, crowdSPRING suggests creating handwritten notes and messages that help customers feel important. It’s easy to send an email, but email has become such a common way to communicate that it can feel impersonal. Since people rarely take the time to write handwritten letters, doing so shows that your brand truly values that customer.


The best swag is that which delivers immediate recognition and shareability. Caroline Ruggerio at Marketo says that wearable swag provides immediate returns because it showcases your brand to other people in the real world. Glasses, hats, socks and shirts are all easy pieces of swag that can feature your logo. Badges and patches are another way to incorporate wearability into your swag while standing out from others.

No matter what you give away, it’s important to think outside the box. How can you really wow your customers and keep them coming back for more? The Brandling says that brands can try appealing to consumers by giving away recycled and reused products rather than new ones. Since today’s consumers are more socially and environmentally conscious, they may not want to take home disposable items they’ll only use once.

For example, fair trade, eco cotton shirts printed with a fun message can be part of the perfect Instagram photo. Or, you can turn to items that promote sustainable behavior, like reusable lunch bags and water bottles. This can help you stand out from your competitors and create a social buzz around your brand, all while reinforcing your values.

brand ambassador


According to Orange Label, “eight in 10 consumers own between one and 10 promotional products, six in 10 keep them for up to two years, and about half (53%) use a promo item at least once a week or more often.” What’s the differentiating factor between swag that’s kept, and that which is discarded? Usefulness. If your swag doesn’t provide benefits for your customer, it isn’t going to last.

Carrie Melissa Jones at Lonely Brand uses the example of Lululemon to show how a win-win strategy works. The activewear brand sends free swag to its brand ambassadors, who then wear these clothes in social media posts. Lululemon also helps these ambassadors promote free events in stores, which entices potential customers and creates strong relationships between ambassadors and the brand.

Swag and Your Bottom Line

It’s clear that swag can make people happy and excited in the short term, but can it have lasting impacts on your bottom line? When done correctly, it absolutely can.

Digital marketing and social media agency Brand & Mortar explains that giving away swag is a method of initiating reciprocity. When a brand gives away something of value to a customer, they subconsciously generate in that customer a desire to give something in return. Even when this doesn’t come in the form of an immediate purchase, people who receive swag are often more likely to follow a brand on social media, sign up for their newsletter or check their website more often. This means they’re more closely engaged with the brand, which now has more opportunities to reach this person in a sales funnel.

You can also use swag to impress new customers and transform them into loyal ambassadors. SessionCam recommends giving away free swag to users during an onboarding process, or right after they’ve made their first purchase. This sets a positive tone and makes people feel good about their decision to buy your product. You can involve your customers in raffles, giveaways and other exciting promotions that show you value their business.  

Jodi Shapiro at the Pardot blog says that swag sends a message of reliability. “You’re building a relationship with your client that goes beyond selling them a product or service they need.” As a result, your buyers will trust you and remain loyal to your brand. Instead of browsing competitors when they’re in need of a product or services, they’ll head straight to the brand they already trust.

Images by: Pexels, StockSnap, Amîlcar Vanden-Bouch

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Look Good, Do Good: Eco-Friendly Materials in Apparel Manufacturing


From guzzling up water to emitting toxic byproducts, new clothing manufacturing certainly takes a toll on the environment. And when working with eco-friendly clients, traditional clothing production methods often don’t align with their sustainability goals and business values.

Fortunately, modern innovations have allowed many apparel companies to breathe new life into materials that were previously often ignored. From plant-based materials like hemp and bamboo to those made from recycled plastic, here’s a roundup of resourceful fabric, textiles and other materials your eco-friendly clients will love.

Plant-Based Materials

Although plant-based materials aren’t recycled from other apparel items, they offer many benefits for the environment and customers’ wallets. Nadine Farag at Man Repeller writes that common plant-based materials include hemp, linen and raffia among others. Hemp, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular material due to its low ecological footprint.


As Ministry of Hemp explains, hemp uses 50 percent less water than cotton. Plus, it doesn’t require pesticides to grow strong and ready for harvesting. Cotton, which is traditionally the most common apparel material, is a water intensive crop that also uses 25 percent of the world’s pesticides.

In addition to being better for the environment, hemp also lasts longer and provides better value to customers. Sympatico Clothing says that hemp is a durable material that withstands many washings and never requires dry cleaning. It also gets softer the more it’s worn, making it the perfect material for nearly any article of clothing.


Bamboo is another crop that grows tall and strong without the need for pesticides. Nomads Hemp Wear says that it also requires just a small amount of water to grow, meaning that its conserves much more water than cotton production methods.

Bamboo Fabric Store Australia adds that bamboo also has antimicrobial properties. This natural function means that bamboo clothing is a great choice for those with allergies or skin sensitivities. The added plus is that these antimicrobial properties make bamboo clothing naturally deodorizing.



Lyocell is a fabric that’s often made from eucalyptus trees and involves a closed-loop production process. According to Good on You, this allows the manufacturer to capture and reuse 99 percent of the chemical solution used while creating the process. This prevents it from being released into the environment and protects nearby land and water from being contaminated.

In the world of eco-friendly fabrics, lyocell is definitely a cutting-edge, revolutionary material. Simplifi Fabric says that lyocell is also 100 percent biodegradable, giving it one of the lowest ecological footprints of all fabrics available today.

When searching for lyocell online, it can often be found under the brand name Tencel. Christina Sterbenz at Business Insider explains that Tencel was first created by the Australian textile giant Lenzing. Now, it’s commonly found in athletic wear, bedding, denim and other everyday clothing pieces.

Fruit By-Products

Pinatex is a revolutionary material made entirely from waste products. Senior writer at TreeHugger Katherine Martinko explains that pinatex comes from the leftover dead leaves of pineapple trees. Pinatex isn’t just an alternative to cotton, it’s actually similar to the texture of leather. This makes it a viable cruelty-free alternative to plastic-based vegan leathers – most of which are made from plastic.

Pintex founder Carmen Hijosa says that the core value of the material is that it’s a byproduct of agriculture. “This really means that in order to have Pinatex, a textile, we don’t have to use any land, water, pesticides, fertilizers … we are actually taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it, meaning that we’re giving it added value.”

Another company that recycles fruit materials is Orange Fiber. Based in Italty, the company makes high-quality, sustainable fabrics from citrus juice by-products. Orange Fiber focuses on products that would otherwise be thrown away. The material is incredibly soft – perfectly suited for high fashion.


Recycled and Upcycled Materials

Luckily, recent innovations in recycling and upcycling have allowed even the most pollutive materials to be rescued from landfills and given a new life.

Textile Recovery System

Take the Recover Upcycled Textile System, for example. This is more of a system rather than a material, but it relies entirely on recycling old cotton clothing scraps from around the world. The Recover Upcycled Textile System doesn’t use any chemicals or water, but it transforms existing, resource-intensive cotton into long lasting clothing yarn.

Another benefit of this process, according to Dr. Kate Goldsworthy at the University of the Arts London, is that it doesn’t require additional dyes to create vibrant colors. “One of the most exciting innovations is in the way they can mix pantone-accurate colours like mixing paint to create new tones from waste fibres. No additional dye is needed,” she explains. Reducing the need for toxic dyes and their byproducts is yet another feature that makes this process so valuable.

Recycled Yarn and String

Yarn isn’t typically thought of when it comes to recycled apparel, but it’s another way to create sustainable apparel. Recent innovations have pushed traditional string beyond its limits, allowing fresh garments to be created from old materials.

Row and Rue cites one type of string called Bionic Yarn, which is a fabric created from ocean plastics. This yarn includes three layers, which gives it the desired stretch, durability and feel that customers desire.

Another popular eco-friendly string is jute. Offset Warehouse writes that jute relies on natural rainfall and grows without the need for fertilizers or pesticides. Jute also takes just four to six months to grow and reach the age of harvesting. This makes it a much more sustainable crop that yields high turnover.

Similar to bamboo, growing jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a faster rate than trees – far exceeding what traditional cotton manufacturing is capable of. Trusted Clothes adds that jute has excellent tensile resistance. This means it has a similar stretch to that found in polyester clothing, yet it doesn’t rely on fossil fuels.

Images by: gunter, Bruno Glätsch, Public Domain Pictures

The post Look Good, Do Good: Eco-Friendly Materials in Apparel Manufacturing appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How New Clothing Lines Can Craft a Seamless Branding Strategy


When you imagine the most successful names in fashion, brands like Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton might come to mind. But what makes these companies so successful? High quality materials and on-trend styles do make a difference, but that’s not all. More importantly, it’s their branding which has truly helped them shine. From memorable logos and fonts to a story that captivates, all clothing companies need a powerful brand that customers can relate to.

When you’re just starting a clothing company, however, carving out a unique and innovative brand identity isn’t easy. To get off on the right foot, here’s how to craft a branding strategy that sets your business apart.

Stray from the Ordinary

There are thousands of clothing brands competing for your customers’ attention. To stand out, your brand needs to create a dynamic identity that resonates with consumers in a personal way. CrowdSPRING says that since people choose clothing to express their own identity, apparel brands need to create an identity that people can relate to. New clothing brands should consider not only what identity they want to become, but also the customer-identity types they want to attract. This will help guide important brand decisions in the right direction.

Furthermore, Go Media says that businesses have to determine a few unique brand traits and hone in on them. Whether it’s how you design your t-shirts or where you source your jean materials, find something that stands out and use that to market yourself. As you do, use these details to create a tagline, slogan, or rallying cry.

According to Mash Bonigala, a startup investor and brand strategist for luxury and apparel brands, a tagline can help unite your target market under a single idea. In addition to bringing your target audience together, a catchy slogan adds dimension to your brand and makes it more memorable.

To understand how a well-established brand defines their brand values, consider how Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture defines her brand values. Hilgart’s brand is committed to using ethical textiles, treating and paying workers fairly and being vegan. While they may not be the biggest brand on the market today, their small size enables them to adopt an ethical business strategy and tell a story of caring and compassion.

Positioning Your Brand

Most emerging brands feel pressured to create something completely new and revolutionary. But in reality, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to carve out a space where your brand has a powerful message in a reliable target market. James C. Gibson says that brand leaders can help encourage innovation in their company by clearly defining where the company is positioned – and where it’s set to go. This helps employees understand how they’re supposed to act and where the company is headed, which creates stronger internal and external brand alignment.

Another way to position your brand in a unique niche is to determine your brand personality. StartUP Fashion suggests finding your brand’s personality by thinking about your brand’s voice, tone, point of view and values. Then, you can think about your ideal customer. What are her or his values? What pain points does he or she have? These questions will help you define your buyer persona.

And if developing a buyer persona wasn’t first on your list – it should be. Why? Because ESTILA Magazine says it’s one of the main branding mistakes businesses make. They explain that failing to define your brand’s buyer personas is a fundamental part of your branding journey and that it becomes harder to fix over time.


Logo Design

Whether you’re planning your first logo or undergoing a rebrand, it’s important to know all the logo designs and styles available to you. T-shirt printing company Printsome explains that a typographic font logo can exude a sophisticated, minimalist feel. Symbolic logos, on the other hand, can be either abstract or figurative. Abstract logos involve geometric shapes paired with letters, and figurative logos take the form of animals, objects and other everyday objects.

Another apparel brand logo tip comes from design expert Ali Qayyum who says that high fashion logos should feel chic and stylish in order to attract people to the brand. Elegant fonts and classy scripts can help you evoke this sense of sophistication and class. Design is important for establishing your brand, but it’s important that it’s considered with caution. As reporter Lindsay Rothfeld puts it: “be wary of becoming inspired by only aesthetics rather than deeper meaning.”

Crafting a Digital Presence

In today’s age, it’s impossible to create a new brand without considering your digital presence. For most brands, a digital presence is key to telling an intriguing brand story. Amit Bhardwaj explains that showcasing your brand story on social media helps build trust with consumers while involving people in the brand experience.

HubSpot marketing blog editor Karla Cook writes that the fashion industry is leading the way in visual brand storytelling on Instagram. The most successful fashion brands have mastered how to tell their brand story through inspirational images, lifestyle shots and carefully curated posts that showcase what the brand stands for, not just what their product creates.

Another way to promote your digital presence on social media and on your website is to put together an online style guide. Uhuru Network says that having a guide will inspire customers and help them visualize how to wear your clothes. This makes it easier to tell a story about your clothing, which helps customers better understand your brand story and the lifestyle it promotes.


Product Descriptions

If you’re stuck on how to tell your story specifically, consider touchpoints on your website. For example, your product descriptions are an ideal place to start. Poq Commerce writes that product descriptions can reinforce your brand values through a consistent tone of voice. If your brand is a sustainably-sourced jean brand, for example, you’ll want to take on an approachable yet sophisticated tone. Product descriptions can be further enhanced through user generated content like reviews and ratings. Jignesh Gohel explains that having real feedback from buyers helps increase conversion rates, decrease bounce rates and boost organic search rankings.

Consistent Messaging

When you’re starting a brand, it’s important to give your customers a powerful experience they’ll remember. Enakshi Sharma stresses that the best way to do this is through consistent and reliable brand experiences. Your typography, brand colors and all other design elements must be uniform across in-person and digital brand experiences. Additionally, these visual elements must reinforce your brand values and beliefs.

As you build your brand and time goes on, your brand will inevitably change and adapt. It’s important to continue testing, tweaking and adapting to your audience’s needs and desires. Toby Nwazor explains that entrepreneurs should always re-examine their business model to ensure that they’re maximizing profits in every area possible.

Images by: tookapic, Francisco Venâncio, Rawpixel

The post How New Clothing Lines Can Craft a Seamless Branding Strategy appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Connect With Dedicated Superfans With Limited Edition Patches


Downtown San Diego. More than 130,000 people convened in one area over a weekend. Shields, light sabers, elf ears, capes and masks.

No, it’s not Halloween — it’s the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), better known as Comic-Con.

For the uninitiated, Comic-Con is the premier event of its kind, a meeting place for superfans and geeks, many of whom come in costume, to bask in their love for comic books, TV shows and movies.

Since 1970, this annual convention has brought together hundreds of thousands of lovers of popular arts. If this kind of fandom, and how powerful it can be, is foreign to you, this piece is for you.

In this article, we examine the roots and power of fandom, and how producing limited-release clothing patches can be a great way to create collectibles and expand the reach of your brand.

Fandom is Family

So, what exactly is “fandom?”

Meredith Morrison at The Odyssey Online calls it “a subculture that celebrates a mutual bond formed between people over a book series, TV show, movie, band, or other form of pop culture.” Often, large fandoms self-identify by creating a group name: the “Potterheads” for fans of the Harry Potter series, “Trekkies” for fans of Star Trek and “Swifties” for fans of musician Taylor Swift.

Beyond popular culture and popular art, the term “fandom” can also be applied to sports fandoms. Think of the die-hard fans of the Lakers or the Patriots. They display most of the same qualities and behaviors as fans of popular culture:

  • An unwavering love for the source material (their team)
  • Following every instalment of the series (games, instead of tv episodes)
  • An emotional attachment to what happens within the fandom community

Essentially, fandom is a community of people with shared interests, bound by a love for something that is seemingly inexplicable to others.


The Power of Fandom

The ubiquity of the internet has added to the rise of fandom, making it easier for people around the world to connect with others who share the same love for a band, TV show, book series or sports team as they do. Social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr have become gathering grounds for fans to have discussions and stay updated on their favorite fandoms.

Cultural anthropologist Susan Kresnicka sees fandom as something that meets our human needs. “It helps us meet core human needs surrounding self-care, social connection, and identity,” she writes

Fandom has also infiltrated our economy.

According to Nerdist, a digital media company dedicated to all things fandom, Comic-Con attendance has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1970. Comic-Con 2013 saw over 130,000 attendees, compared to approximately 30,000 in 1993 and 70,000 in 2003. This rise in attendance has correspondingly had a positive effect on the San Diego economy.

Today, Comic-Con has an estimated economic impact of $180 million on the city of San Diego and boasts commercialized booths selling all sorts of merchandise and collectibles for fans. Its popularity has led to the creation of other similar events in America and around the world.

The last 10 years have also seen the growing success of licensed merchandising companies such as Funko, Hasbro and Monogram International. Fans have the buying power and burning desire to collect merchandise related to their favorite movie franchise, book or TV show — and these companies know how to tap into that power.

For instance, while The Forces Awakens made more than $517 million worldwide during its opening weekend, the real money was in merchandise sales. According to Natalie Robehmed at Forbes, predicted Star Wars merch sales were $3 billion for just the film’s release year.

Kresnicka has an explanation for how powerful fans can be: “When we define ourselves as fans, we do more — we watch more, share more, buy more, evangelize more, participate more, help more.”

Even so, Brian Mariotti, CEO of Funko, thinks that the power of fandom is not fully understood or tapped into. “People understand being a sports fan and buying jerseys or coffee mugs of their favorite team,” he says. “This is no different. Instead these are fans of a video game or TV show. This is their passion.”

And passion leads to big bucks. In 2016, Funko earned $425 million in revenue.


Collecting Collectibles

The question to ask, then, is: What makes something a collectible?

The term “collectible” is often used in conjunction with antiques. Pamela Wiggins at The Spruce defines a collectible as “an item that someone takes the time to collect,” which means that the item could be something of high value or “simple things that may hold only nominal value to the person who gathered them into a collection.”

In the context of fandom, the same definition applies. Fandom collectibles can take many forms: posters, T-shirts, figurines, keychains, comic books, pins, bags, patches, and the list goes on.

For fans, collecting merchandise can be a pricey endeavor. According to the Back to the Movies blog, Star Wars fans spend an average of £800 ($1,040) on movie merchandise. As fandom grows, so does the demand for merchandise.

Limited-Release Patches As Collectibles

The economics of fandom collectibles are the same as other products: Create something that people want, and they will pay for it. Release limited quantities of the item, and chances are the demand for it will outstrip the supply.

As a clothing brand, how can you find your way into the fandom market? Tapping into fans’ passions and designing limited edition patches can be a fantastic way to celebrate fandom and bring in a whole new customer base to your brand.

Clothing patches date back to the 1800s, when they were used to patch up clothes. Then, during the American Civil War, patches were used to identify soldiers by rank. Over time, they have became part of fashion; a quick walk through an H&M or Forever 21 will show you racks of clothes with decorative patches on them.

In fact, Highsnobiety reports that patches have become a hot fashion trend, with high-end designers such as Gucci and Ovadia & Sons using them in their collections. Highsnobiety attributes the current “it” status of patches to “the ability to play off current cultural themes … [and] tapping into that popularity and adding a clever twist.”

Patches can be woven, embroidered or made of other materials such as leather or suede. Regardless of what they are made of, they add personality and individuality to one’s style. It is thus a perfect item for fans to display their love for their favorite characters, shows or books.  

The wonderful thing is that patches are relatively inexpensive for brands to produce, and also for consumers to purchase. Patches can be added to different items ranging from bags to T-shirts to jackets to caps. It’s possible to add a patch to any item of clothing, and this widens your potential customer base.


Creating Clothing Patches That Appeal To Fans

With so much fan merchandise available on the market, how can you stand out with fandom-based patches?

Find the Right Fandom

The key is choosing a fandom that resonates with your brand and customers. Think about your core audience: who they are, what they like, what fandoms they could be interested in. The connection between your brand and the fandom you choose to celebrate can make or break the success of your clothing patches.

For instance, a brand that has a strong, independent woman as its buyer persona would benefit from connecting with the Wonder Woman fandom due to the convergence in values. This would resonate with your existing target audience, and also attract Wonder Woman fans who were not initially aware of your brand.

Andrew Nodell notes how brands, both mass market and high-end, are producing clothing items inspired by Wonder Woman. As consultant Kim Vernon tells Nodell, “People buying Wonder Woman merchandise are buying into the ideology of the strength of women.”

Keep Up With Trends

Tapping into the fandom market requires you to have your hand on the pulse of what’s currently resonating with fans. This means doing research into which characters are fan favorites, which movie moments got the most Twitter discussion, or what new releases fans are most looking forward to. If you’re able to tap into what’s hot with fans, and then create limited-release patches that match their interests, you’ve got a winning product.

Jeremy Goldman points to clothing brands like Welovefine, TeeFury and Her Universe as companies to look to when it comes to creating clothing that fans want to buy. Built by fans for fans, these companies use “obscure fan references and occasional crossing-over of multiple fandoms” to appeal to fans.

Go For Evergreen Fandoms

Pop culture comes in waves, but there are fandoms that are more evergreen in nature. Years after the last book in the series was released, the Harry Potter fandom is still going strong. Star Wars fans have only multiplied since A New Hope was released in 1977. The Marvel and DC fandoms have seen exponential growth since they introduced movies and a shared cinematic universe for fans to delve into.

Such fandoms that have developed a solid fanbase are excellent choices for brands to align themselves with. The strength of their fanbases mean that demand will always be there. Once a fan, always a fan.

One company that has done extremely well by appealing to fans is Black Milk Clothing, based in Australia. Samuel Hun credits their strategy of producing apparel based on popular movies, comics and TV shows as a key factor of their success. Whether it’s Star Wars-inspired swimwear or Marvel Comics leggings, Black Milk has successfully (and stylishly!) combined fandom and fashion. Their limited edition collections tend to sell out very quickly, showing that the demand for such products are high.

Nostalgia Sells

Nostalgia is another strong selling point. Popular bands, movies and TV series from years past evoke warm memories of good times and create a strong emotional pull. As Lauren Friedman puts it, “Aligning marketing strategies with emotion has already proven to be successful, but tapping into fond memories can be an invaluable tactic, especially for engaging millennials.”

Combining fandom and nostalgia can be a winning combination. Simply look at the rebooting of old cartoons or movie franchises such as the Power Rangers movie or the new Ghostbusters to see how Hollywood is leveraging on nostalgia to bring in dollars. When creating fandom-based patches, this could be a good approach to follow.

What it boils down to is congruence between your brand, the fandom you choose to celebrate, and your target audience. If all are in alignment, developing limited-release clothing patches could be a successful new venture for your company. You could even end up creating a new fandom for your patches!

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