I’m a graphic designer, and also now is a student in managing a creative business. I thought the two courses were completely different. However, when I actually started the course, I found some similar points between two majors. For instance, I realized that design also serves the brand. The education I received before taught me that the traditional purpose of design is to achieve a certain aesthetic standard. Design is for beauty. The primary goal of design is to please consumers and serve the public. All these other standard symbols still exist, but business decisions are more focused on whether it can support a brand or goal that people desire. In other words, make your brand stand out.
The content of this course is extremely comprehensive and complex. It consists of many dissimilar modules, and you need to choose different focuses according to your professional needs. These parts (such as IP/finance/branding/business models) are all your bricks. You need to combine bricks together with your unique style. In other words, you need to create a new business models and methodologies that have your style. I knew a lot of business secrets during the study: the importance of brands / New venture development / how to promote my brand and financial knowledge et al.
As a summary of stage learning, this reflective article will focus on how to realize the uniqueness of the brand from the poster design of the brand part, and how to gain some practical experience from the business strategy simulation game
We were asked to design our own posters in the Branding part. Throughout the process, I realized the importance of the brand uniqueness.
According to Kimbarovsky(2020), semiology is the study of signs and symbols and is the theoretical basis of all brand strategies. How to make your brand different is an ongoing question. The brand uniqueness some how create desire from customers. No one really needs an additional T-shirt or a pair of jeans, but we will continue to buy them. Some how, the way of banding strategy also highlights the value and energy of brand culture and brand background.
For many people, our choice of clothing is just a way to express our identity visually in the fashion industry. But why elements attract consumers to choose our products over others in the end.
The answer is the distinctive way of branding which means companies, designers, retailers use their different strategies that consumers an emotional attachment, thereby motivating consumers to buy it. For example, the high-end lifestyle conveyed by LULULEMON. And the factor that stimulates the desire to buy is not only the unique constituent elements behind the brand but also the combination of the elements of brand marketing, apparel, physical store display space, business model; it is the combination of these elements and more than this factor. These elements combined, if understood by consumers, will lead them to buy products or services of characteristic brand retailers or a certain designer.
The LULULEMON brand promotes the brand by building realtionships between customers and the brand. Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, is a yoga enthusiast. He designed clothes that target the women’s yoga clothing market. And designed to take into account women of all sizes. Lululemon has earned great returns with the start-up period of “Precision Serving the Vertical Segment of Women’s Yoga Wear”. The relationship between consumers and the LULULEMON brand is the symbol and emotional bond of the brand.
The LULULEMON brand promotes the brand in a special way to maintain customer loyalty. They attract consumers with group culture: regular free yoga events are held to drive brand influence with KOI. Unlike traditional brands invite celebrity endorsements, Lululemon invites famous yoga teachers and fitness instructors to build a stable KOL team. Lululemon refers to these KOLs as brand ambassadors, using these KOLs to influence consumers. Lululemon taps the 20 most popular fitness instructors and yoga teachers to become their brand ambassadors, provide free clothing to brand ambassadors, and hang up brand ambassadors wearing Lululemon posters in the store. In return, these ambassadors also want to introduce their customers to Lululemon. Let the brand spread slowly in these KOL circles. LULULEMON establish a community-based marketing strategy through social networks, crowds, and store activities which makes them different.
In addition, LULULEMON maintain their branding effect by choose their target customers correctly. The customer segments are targeted at people of the middle class and above (Female-dominated). Usually, they are well educated and have a certain level of consumption. They can afford a slightly higher price for the product. As the economy develops, these people are paying more attention to their additional attributes, such as design and brand value. At the same time, they have requirements for health and quality of life. The average price of each legging is around £ 40-50. So even LuluLemon pricing is not cheap compared with other similar sports brand UNDER ARMOR. The customer segment will choose this brand when they need a legging for yoga. The scientific way of customer segmentation and the choice of right target customer help LULULEMON to have their loyal customers.
Lululemon’s success is not accidental. They have a rounded system of business models. It accurately locates the customer base on the premise of fully grasping the market rules. At the same time, they will develop a new marketing communication model, relying on KOL’s word-of-mouth influence and meticulous community cultivation to achieve economic benefits and customer loyalty. Brand marketing does not refer to a trend, but continuous communication by giving the brand a story background (including online, offline, mobile devices, sales staff, loyal customers). Sometimes Brands will keep to strategies such as limited production/unique design and other product development methods to create exclusive concepts for their mass-produced products. Brands make consumers feel that they are not a group but an independent individual.
When designing business models, I usually use a lot of notes to write down different elements to form a visual map, just like I used brainstorming when designing. Keep these elements easy to move and adjust at any time based on strategic changes. This approach is conducive to strategic changes and management of risks. A brief summary of the necessary elements allows us to see a lot of new visualization possibilities. Keep trying to produce important strategic innovations.
We have our own shoe company in Strategy Part. This is the first time we play a game like this and we have no idea at began. According to Bennett and Lemoine(2014) when we in a VUCA (Unstable, Uncertain, Complicated and Vague) business environment, what our team needs is specifically based on SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis Choice and the decision of strategy. We did well in the first two decisions.
But there are two problem we found during the game. First, we didn’t analyze our competitors correctly. we failed to analyze the underlying threat from our opponents which leads to an overly optimistically estimation compared the true future situation. Second, we are unable to react to the market responses calmly and perfectly. Every time we make a decision, we get feedback the next day. The effect of our attempts is not hundred percent same to our expectation, and each solution is not a “one-time operation”, then multiple subsequent choices will be needed as well. Because there is no chance for you to solve a problem with a simple attempt. It is a process to learn from marketing response and our corresponding de attempts. However, each step has to pay a price. There is no right or wrong solution, only good or bad. After all, companies have never been able to perfectly predict what new strategies their competitors will develop when they respond to changes in strategic direction, and how they will react when the market direction changes. It is essential to master accurate and scientific means of predictive analysis and develop the ability of continuously giving countermeasures based on market feedback.
There is also a very meaningful harvest for me. My teammates and me, as a team, the communication with my teammates helped me have different perspectives and improve my ideas. The accuracy of expressing my decisions is the weakness of mine which affects whether my teammates can understand my thoughts or not. Besides, it is inevitable that differences of opinion arise during the exchange, and you need to manage your emotions. Better give and receive feedback. This is the significance of teamwork.
Kimbarovsky, R. (2020). What is Brand Identity and How To Create a Unique and Memorable One. Available at: https://www.crowdspring.com/blog/brand-identity/ [Accessed 7 Jan. 2020].
Bennett, N. and Lemoine, J. (2014). ‘What VUCA Really Means for You. Harvard Business Review Home’, Journal of January–February 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review.