This industry is saturated with talented designers. In all this noise, the 10% of applicants we take all have one thing in common – a great brand. How do you differentiate yourself from the millions of designers around you? More importantly, how does your consumer go from merely appreciating your design, to being able to recognize and love it in a sea of competitors?

A great brand means more than just a well designed logo. It means being consistent in the look and feel of everything you put out from garments to social content. It means being transparent in who you are as a designer and what makes you do what you do.  Here are five questions to ask yourself to help establish your brand identity:

  1. What’s your story?

    This is the first question we like to ask brand’s when they apply and is deceptively simple. A good start to thinking about how you answer this in a compelling way? Tell where are you from and how that has impacted you? How did you get into design? What inspires you? Every collection you put out should tell part of your story as great design doesn’t happen in isolation.

  2. Who’s your customer?

    Hint: The answer to this is not everyone. There may be a difference between who you think your customer is and who is actually buying your clothing. Think about niches and values. Interview current customers to get at the root cause of their reason for purchasing your brand and that piece. What did you learn? The sooner these two groups of people are the same group the easier it will be to grow your business.

  3. Who’s your competition?

    This answer requires a bit of research. There are the obvious more established brands but also newer/smaller brands that are entering the market everyday. Look at their brand, price point and demographics to find your true competition. Sometimes more established brands you emulate can help provide a jumping off point.

  4. What are they and the market doing?

    Knowing what the current market is doing is key to making educated decision and innovative choices when you are designing. Stay on top of what the brands you respect and emulate are doing by setting up Google Alerts, signing up for their newsletters, and following them on social media.

  5. How can you differentiate yourself?

    The last and most important question. What is your “thing”? What makes you – the designer, the brand, the garment – different from everything else out there?

Building a brand also helps build loyalty. Ask yourself why customers are coming to you? And if it isn’t already part of your brand, make it. Customers will come back to you for being authentic and if they don’t come back to you they are probably not your target demographic. Once you’re able to recognize these people, you can work on your own design/business to keep them coming back for more.

But what do we think is the most important reason for building your brand now? Legacy. Chanel, McQueen, Louis Vuitton. What do all of these fashion houses have in common? They all have strongly defined brands. There is a great opportunity for the next big name in fashion, and we are committed to launching that talent here at Nineteenth Amendment. As an independent designer, it is important to step into marketplace with an authentic sense of self and brand.

In the future, what will you leave behind?

Welcome to Nineteenth Amendment and the new canon of designer brands.