By Daymond John

When people ask me, “What’s in a brand?” I have to work hard not to just say, “Everything!” Whether you realize it or not, branding drives almost every aspect of your life. Even if you’re one of those people who say, “I just wear whatever. I don’t pay attention to brands,” you might be surprised at how much branding matters in “whatever” you wear.

First of all, even if you only wear jeans and solid-colored t-shirts, you have to choose a store where you’ll buy them. You can go with a discount store that brands itself on savings. You can go with a boutique that focuses on ethically made products and durability. You can pick a brand that gives a portion of its proceeds to charity… And the list goes on. Unless you choose the store, brand, style, and color at random, you’re making decisions based on how the retail and fashion businesses you shop with have branded themselves.

People bought FUBU clothes because it was the first brand that really made clothing for hip-hop culture. I worked hard on my branding for FUBU to be really inclusive of all urban kids and hip-hop lovers, and that’s why my brand shot up so high and so fast.

Know Your Market and Your Industry

So, with all that in mind, you might ask, why aren’t more hip-hop celebrities absolutely killing it in the fashion world right now? P. Diddy made a killing when he moved into the fashion world, so why aren’t more well-known men in hip-hop getting a break in fashion?

You would think that anything with a well-known hip-hop star’s name on it would make a huge splash, right? After all, whether you love them or hate them, these men know how to keep people talking about them. And they’ve been able to carefully build and curate a very specific brand for themselves, too. So why doesn’t that always translate?

Well, as I mentioned in a radio interview on this subject, some hip-hop stars didn’t exactly bank on what it takes to cross over industries. No matter how much time and money you spend on a track, you can sell it on iTunes for between $0.99 and $1.99. And you can keep on selling it, over and over again. You don’t ever have to worry about running out of downloads.

The fashion industry is different. You have to consider what kind of material you’re using for your clothes and shoes. The same shoes in alligator skin are going to cost a lot more than they would if you made them out of vinyl. And you have to worry about just how much to make. If you make too many, you’re going to be left with a lot of inventory and a major loss; if you make too few, you’re going to have a lot of impatient customers waiting on you while you try to get another batch in the works.

Hip-hop star’s brands include a lot of the here-and-now. It’s built around what they just blasted at the media, and that doesn’t translate as well in the world of fashion. I’m not saying hip-hop stars can’t make it in fashion, but their brand and business strategy are based in commodities that don’t run out.

Build Your Brand with Your Business

As you build your business, think about how your branding affects it. Do you promise overnight delivery on all of your goods? If you had an explosion in sales tomorrow, would you still be able to honor that promise? Is your brand ultra exclusive? If so, how do you plan to grow it to maintain that image without undercutting your sales?

What’s in a brand? Everything.

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