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Archive for July, 2010

BRANDING 101

July 19, 2010

 

Wow, it’s been so long since I last posted anything on my blog.  Sorry, to leave everyone hanging.  I’ve been so busy lately getting everything in order for our event at the Malibu Beach House (pictures coming soon!), our trade show coming up, and on top of that, working a full time job!  Work never ends.

 

I digress.

 

Last time I left off on branding 101.  Branding is probably the most important part of your business.  I always thought “Product is King,” it is King, but branding is the crème de la crème!  Think of how many times you’re in a store and you see something that is really dumb, and you think to yourself “How are they selling this?”  It’s called branding my friends, the company selling that dumb product has branded it as a must have. 

 

All my lady friends understand what I’m about to say – while walking in Bloomingdales, why does your eye land on an Alice + Olivia dress instead of a Guess dress?  Branding association is what I call it.  You associate Alice + Olivia with a higher price, exclusivity, and of course higher quality.  Growing up with a seamstress of a mother who was a stickler for quality, I can say that price doesn’t always mean better quality.  Alice + Olivia have branded themselves as a higher end/classier company, and women just eat it up. 

 

Another thing I want to touch upon is price, and I have to thank Mr. Christian Louboutin for teaching me this.  With a high price tag comes exclusivity, and a frenzy.  Put it this way, do you think the red sole would be such a hit if the price were $100?  I don’t think so.  The fact that his shoes go upwards of $800 proves that this is an exclusive item that only certain women can buy.  When we see this certain woman wearing them in the street, we easily recognize the red sole, then easily recognize that she paid $900 (including tax), and she lands herself in the exclusive-high-end group, and she’s happy.  Does this mean than Louboutin is better than any other shoe company out there?  No, I actually think they’re very uncomfortable, but….Branding is a powerful thing!!  If Steve Madden made red sole shoes first for $100; there wouldn't be such a craze because the shoes are affordable – no exclusive group to put them into.

 

 

When establishing your company, whatever it may be, you have to understand your brand, customer, market, and where you want to go with it.  Do you want to be in the luxury category, i.e. Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton?  Do you want to be in the affordable luxury category, i.e. Elizabeth and James, L.A.M.B, French Connection?  Or do you want to be in the affordable – mass retailer category, i.e. Target, Wal-Mart?  There isn’t anything wrong with any of these options, but you need to pick what you like and then brand it according to your chosen group, and of course, price your product properly. 

 

Apple is one of my favorite companies because they started out struggling and grew to this wonderful, successful corporation that has become a cult.  If all Apple products were sold hundreds of dollars less than they currently are, and if there wasn’t a fancy Apple store, do you think people would be lining up outside for hours?  I think not!  When you walk into an Apple store, you think luxury, cool products, and they’re the best.  If Apple were sold at RadioShack, they would not have their luxury/cult status attached to them.  Of course all their designs are far superior to what any other company has produced.  And that all adds to their branding, but you pay the extra money for that cool design to be in the exclusive Apple cult. 

 

You see where I’m going with this?

 

Now, let’s say you happened to score a sales account with Saks Fifth Avenue.  You would be jumping up and down at this point because that is an awesome account to land – congrats!  You roll out to 30 Saks stores and your product starts to receive more press and sales go up.  You’re happy and the people at Saks are happy.  All of a sudden, QVC contacts you to be the next feature value of the day.  Any sane person would be doing back flips out of sheer joy that they’ve scored two huge accounts.  The following week you are in talks with the QVC people and you both agree on a deal to sell your product at a discounted price.  In your mind you think sure, everyone buys things on sale.  HOWEVER, and this is a big however, what about your product being full priced at Saks?  Do you think the Saks people will be just as ecstatic as you are?  They are about to lose big money because everyone will buy the product on QVC and not at Saks.  You are about to lose a big account that has more value than QVC.  I’ve spoken to a few ladies who this has actually happened to.  They scored a big, valuable account and then tried to get on a home shopping network, and they almost lost their big accounts.  They received phone calls from the department stores threatening to drop them if they went along with the shopping network.  Guess what?  The ladies didn’t go with the shopping network. 

 

 

 

 

At then end of the day, your company is always worth more at a valuable department store such as Bloomingdales, Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc.  As soon as you go to a chain bargain store, such as Duane Reade, Wal-Mart, Target, the value of your company drops.  This doesn’t mean you won’t make money at a bargain store, but, if you are at a high end store and want to sell your product to Target as well because you think you can capture another market share, think again.  This is why Sara Blakely from SPANX created ASSETS to be sold at Target.  SPANX keeps its high end value and it allows for its other brand, ASSETS, to capture another market, and all your retailers are happy. 

 

I tend to babble but this is all something to think about when starting your own company, whether it’s a restaurant or a furniture outlet.  Next time you walk into a store, look at products from a branding perspective and think about where they're trying to go with it.  I always stop and stare at signs, and logs, and packaging, and think about what they're trying to prove and if it's visually attractive.  It will help you in your decisions.

 

Next time I’m going to talk about the process involved to build your brand with your logo and packaging.

 

Keep reading and spreading the love!

 

Sotiria

Enter our GIVEAWAY!!

July 6, 2010

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend!  If only every week was a 3 day weekend. 

I wanted to remind everyone that we have a giveaway going on over at Galtime, a fabulous magazine publication providing information for ladies from beauty and fashion to parenting.  Check out their website now and don’t forget to enter the giveaway .  It ends Friday July 16th, so hurry up and enter…what are you waiting for!!

The first step in starting a business is to create an idea. I remember like it was yesterday when a light bulb hit me with the idea of Relax Missy. Women would get it and they would fall in love with such an ingenious design. But how do I go from a pretty picture in my head to holding the product in my hands?

Manufacturing a product is not easy. It takes a lot of research and planning, and I knew nothing of this. My family was not in the manufacturing world and therefore I didn’t have any hookups. I was completely on my own. Actually, there were tons of things I needed to do before even getting into the manufacturing phase. I hadn’t even begun and I was already frustrated!

Borders is one of my favorite bookstores and since it was a 2 min drive from Stony Brook Campus, I took a drive to see if there were any books on business or manufacturing. Again, I was coming up short, until I walked one aisle and saw a lady on the cover smiling at me in colorful clothing. Her smile and her bright colored clothing, including white, green and pink, caught my eye. I picked up the book and read the title: Mommy Millionaire, How I turned my Kitchen Table Idea into A Million Dollars and How You Can, Too! Hmm, the title was catchy, so, I sat down and started reading. Instantly I was drawn in because I realized this book was not just a motivational book but it was a real HOW TO book, with step-by-step details. I bought it and sped home to dissect every word. If there is a book out there for entrepreneurs, it’s this one. Go out and buy it!

I finished Mommy Millionaire in about a week and used it as my guide. I discovered the USPTO website which became my new best friend as I was researching patents and trademarks. Everyone has a different opinion on patents, mine is – don’t waste your time on it. Unless you are TRULY inventing something, and not re-inventing, then get a patent. As you get into the market, expect to see competition, it’s just a given. If you want to write a provisional patent, which is a shorter version of a patent that you can do yourself, then do it, but don’t wait years for it to be approved before you develop and market your business.

Now, Trademark, is a MUST!! This protects your product name and it makes sure that you are the only XYZ brand name with a lip gloss in the market. You can’t have two XYZ companies because it will get confusing for the consumer. This is no good. All you have to do is hit the Trademark tab on the USPTO website and type in your potential product name. If you see it’s taken, move on and pick a different name. I went through about ten names before I chose Relax Missy. When thinking of a product name, you have to think about branding and your customer, this of course, is another topic itself.

Once you finally decide on a brand name, you should register it ASAP before someone else does. You don’t need a high priced attorney for this. I successfully registered my own Trademark with the help of a NOLO book. NOLO.com is a great free legal website with templates and advice and inexpensive books you can buy to help you out.

I tend to ramble because I have so much to say and teach!! Tune in next time for Branding 101 – the do’s and don’ts.

Unleash your inner millionaress!!
Sotiria

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