My daughter Kristen has just graduated from college with a degree in fashion design and has been tapped to design a line for a luxury sustainable wood eyewear company. (whoooohooooo!) And in a series of conversations over the past few weeks we touched on brand positioning – as each of the people involved is representing and nurturing their own emergent brand.
From my outsider view – the eyewear company has a high-end, green/sustainable, kind of edgy but meticulously hand-crafted eyewear product/brand. (It’s a pretty cool product and I would like a pair myself… but I digress…)
My daughter’s brand perspective provides a global design aesthetic with a focus on the melding of color, creativity and texture. So then in this collaborative environment, how can each new brand be positioned synergistically?
In this case, the eyewear brand should lead and the designer should follow because it is important that a new product company with a narrowly focused line not be diluted or eclipsed by a designer’s brand.
However, the benefit of bringing a designer in (which btw is a great idea for other micropreneurs to consider) means that the designer should influence and add to the product story. It then becomes a great angle for the product company’s marketing and sales materials – even for those launches with a limited time engagement. With proper handling even an emerging designer with a strong perspective can help craft the story for the product company. And the benefits for the designer will be numerous as well.
I think there are other cases where mature companies can take somewhat of a back seat and exist more as the platform. Take the Target and Neiman Marcus collabo for example – a rather brilliant program all the way around. They sought to bring in hot leading designers to launch “affordable chic” lines for the following impressive design roster:
Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Band of Outsiders, Brian Atwood, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Eddie Borgo, Jason Wu, Judith Leiber, Lela Rose, Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Philip Crangi, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Robert Rodriguez, Rodarte, Skaist-Taylor, Thom Browne, Tory Burch and Tracy Reese.
In this case, all of the brands were well known – and each lends its own credibility and depth to the experience. It also broadens the reach for both Target and Neiman’s. The lines are introduced to an entirely new entry-level market and presumably as they mature (read: have more disposable income) they will seek out the true luxury buying experience with Neiman Marcus.
Ahhh…. yes, balanced collaborative branding takes a considered approach but as in these two cases, it can be a brilliantly executed experience for everyone involved – including the consumer!