Thoughts on branding

As I think I've mentioned on this blog before, what really got me into the tshirt scene was Threadless. I think I submitted somewhere between 20-25 shirts within a few months, and one of the reasons I was so drawn to the place was that it abandoned the "brand" mentality. I'd always hated shopping for tees and having nothing but logos and brand names to pick from. It seemed that not wanting to wear "NIKE" "ADIDAS" "QUIKSILVER" or "EZEKIEL" tees meant I was right out of luck when it came to tee shopping. And that was always a bummer, because I didn't really want to pay someone to advertise for them.

Threadless, on the other hand, offered a brand-less designing environment. There were no company names to be found in the designs, and on top of that the tees were very reasonably priced. So when I finally started Linty Fresh in 2006, I felt that sticking to this mentality was smart; I kept "Linty Fresh" off of the shirts' designs and focused on the graphics themselves. Besides, with LF I wanted to experiment a LOT stylistically, developing my design skills as I tried new things with each shirt. In short, I was trying to become a mini-Threadless.

The problem, of course, was that Threadless has hundreds (maybe thousands at this point) of designers working for them. This represents countless hours of experience in and exposure to styles I'd never even seen (let alone master). So I could only go so far. In the end, if my shirts were just about the designs, folks might as well go someplace else, because I simply couldn't compete with these huge teams of professional artists. So I decided to take another look at branding.

What makes a brand? It's not just a logo, or a typeface, or some catchy slogan. A brand is a style. It's little pieces that add up to create a look. And in order to do that, consistency is important. Every element must add up to strengthen the overall image of the brand. And the best brands (or at least the most noteworthy ones) are the those that create a unique look. The problem with the mega brands out there is that they can be lumped together in genres and their stuff looks the same. (ROXY, QUIKSILVER, BILLABONG, RIPCURL = surf, NIKE, REEBOK, ADIDAS = sport, etc) So if I were to go about creating my own brand, I'd have to figure out a niche I wanted to create, and really create a look for it.

Well, that was 8 months ago, and I've still got lots of work to do, but I do feel that it's given me important direction with Linty Fresh up to this point. And from time to time I get emails from people who are starting their own clothing lines, and I tell them the same thing: Create a brand. The trick, of course, is in how and when to brand. Branding does not mean slapping your logo some some different colored tees and jacking up prices. It takes a lot of thought and refining, and ultimately (as I said earlier), creating a look.


posted by Mr. Linty @ 9:11 AM,


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