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There is a disconnection when starting to work with any brand, as well as in creating one. In the initial process of attempting to understand the entirety of a brand's DNA, there can be difficulty finding clarity and confidence. Causing designers to fill up the gaps in the sequence with personal mislead sources. Prior to commencing design, there is a fundamental need for a concise handbook that communicates the brand and its purpose directly and visually. This dissection into words and visuals helps to compose a detailed story. Making it easier to work with any design task by cutting down the research time, optimizing the results of in-tuned designs, and having a reference source for the workings of the fashion industry.


Learning the universe in which the brand operates, "l'univers" as the french say, frees mind space to envision the possibilities of the brand.

+ Key points in a brand's history are important in understanding the brand's conception and trajectory.


+ A perceptual map is a diagram used to visualize customers' perception of the brand using key attributes on the x and y axis. Showing the relationship to contemporary brands on the market. These attributes can include factors such as: distinctiveness, centrality, sales volume, price, social media presence. It can also give insight on potential merges and gaps within a market. 


+ Key points in a brand's history are important in understanding the brand's conception and trajectory.


+ Honing in on a specific group that share similarities enables the brand to focus in on those in the market most likely to buy their products. This allows the brand to market its effort to better reaching these people and to better analyze their needs, ultimately aiming their products for this target. 

+ The mission statement is used to communicate the distinctive purpose of the brand, giving direction on how to serve the defined market.

+ Designers look to a specific muse that carries the essence of the ideal customer and epitomizes the brand. This becomes a reference point when designing. Allowing you to ask, would this person wear it? Where? Does it enhance their style? What activities or interests influence what they wear? Knowing real details of their lives brings a greater sense of the subtle style distinctions.


+ Examine the go-to outfit of the muse. Revealing what makes the muse feel the most comfortable and reasons on why that is. Do they like to blend in? Or be bold? Do they choose style over function? This is a baseline in understanding the foundational pieces the muse is continually searching for, as well as complimentary ones to this existing wardrobe.


+ A style breakdown examines where the proportion of a set of design attributes falls in relation to the whole style. The dominant traits help to identify the overall goal and feel of the aesthetic. This is useful in classifying what draws the target market to a particular product. These descriptions can further identify the subtle peculiarity of a brand's style.


+ Three most important words / emotions / ideas that are synonymous with your brand. Narrowing them to three is essential. These three words have to be present in every product of design or experience.


+ Common themes, like a story, are the revisited main topics and outlets the designer is interested in exploring when they create a collection. These themes speak to the condition of the relationship people have to their clothing. Themes may deal with a specific time period, a principle in design, a group it identifies with, or an abstraction.


+ An overall examination of proportion. Praising silhouettes that have excelled at containing the balance of brand attributes and positive feedback for the brand. Pointing out the specifics to what makes this piece successful. These sections should evolve with the brand and the direction it wants to head in.


+ This is essential when conceptualizing, in order to not waste time following the wrong direction. Critique silhouettes that are not in tune with the brand. Accompanied with elements or combination of elements to avoid when designing. This can be of certain styles, fits, and lengths. 


+ Roger’s curve is a tool used to trace the diffusion of a trend in the market throughout time. Starting with enthusiasts in line for reinvention: fashion influencers, high fashion promotion, and commercial introduction. Then early adopters: fashion opinion leaders, local promotion, early trend-seekers. Early majority: mass market consumers & mass merchandising. Late majority: non-fashion followers who buy what is common. Lastly fashion isolates & clearance/obsolescence. Consider where your main customer takes action in the cycle in order to reach them at the opportune time.


+ Products can be classified by the rate in their duration of the market.  Classic products: such as t-shirts, have a long product lifecycle with few style changes. Fashion products: relate the style of the time, adopted by a large scope of people. Fad products: have a short life cycle, usually emerging from a particular sub-culture or demographic. Brands can build their line of products to include an appropriate percentage in each group to maximize sales, in-line with good, better, best products.


+ Indicate major lifestyle changes that are influencing the behavior on what people's expectations are in a product or company. The company or product's ability to adapt to these new lifestyles and exceed expectations, will determine its' success and feasibility as a relevant trusted brand.


+ Understand the landscape of the time and what social shifts and topics are at the forefront. This helps to identify the motivations and insights on patterns of what is influencing the motivation of the consumer. Inspiring better solutions, not focusing on what people want, but observing what is influencing their thinking and behavior.


+ This is an explanation of what the brand strives for in addressing a well defined problem. What quantifiable value does the customer search for and derive from the brand? What is the degree of loyalty to the brand or product? It is important for designers to start thinking of design in terms of problems and solutions.


+ A traditional fashion design process is linear and based on comfortable stagnate numbers. Where you would research market trends, brainstorm concepts, then design and edit samples. There is a new system in the design process that attempts to integrate immediacy in feedback of a product and business. The customer experience is forefront and embedded throughout in an effort to innovate and create value, along with a data driven ease of risk and adaptability growth. 

[ Excerpts from a branding handbook template I created. For the free template download, contact me! ]

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