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Language – the secret to brand success for fashion retailers?

Image credit: golibo via iStock
in Retail and Ecommerce

Of the various strengths and characteristics businesses need to succeed in the fashion retail sector, arguably the most important of all is a strong brand.

With so many providers vying for the attention of increasingly discerning and demanding consumers, individual brands must be well-defined and distinctive to stand out from the crowd.

So what are the key elements involved in creating and developing a powerful brand? As we will explore in this blog, one key part of the process is how your business uses language, something that can prove particularly significant in the fashion world.

Why language is crucial to branding

Effective use of language is a fundamental part of establishing a brand and building lasting associations with customers. One of the key reasons for this is that people are most likely to feel loyal to the brands with which they have a strong, rewarding relationship, and relationships are built on language and communication.

Used in the right way, words can be evocative, empowering and inspiring. They can make a powerful initial impact on consumers, creating the emotional foundation on which your brand is built.

Making a connection with people through language can give your company more humanity and help you earn customer trust by creating a sense of authority and confidence.

One of the world's most successful and recognisable brands, Nike, sends out an inspirational message with its slogan, 'Just do it'. As impactful as this sort of statement can be, the significance of language extends beyond soundbites. In order to create a coherent identity, brands must ensure they maintain a consistent style and tone of voice across all messaging.

When it comes to expanding internationally, a core slogan such as Nike's might not need to be translated, but it's crucial to invest in the translation and localisation of other campaign content, to make it relevant to the target market.

If you are using colloquial phrases, for example, care must be taken to ensure your words have the same meaning in other languages. Often, word-for-word translation is not sufficient and expert localisation is essential.

Consistency is another important consideration when you are communicating in different languages. If your business is targeting growth in foreign markets, the services of a dedicated, experienced language partner will prove vital to making connections with consumers and conveying your brand message.

Without effective localisation and tailoring to suit specific markets, your content and communications could swiftly lose their appeal, becoming at best ineffectual and, at worst, inappropriate or offensive.

In fashion, brand is everything

The fashion industry has given us some of the most distinctive and enduring brands in history, from luxury designers to the retailers upon which consumers rely to find the things they need.

In Forbes' list of the world's most valuable brands in 2018, the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nike, Hermes, Gucci, Zara and H&M all feature among the top 50.

Dawn Del Russo, founder of Bella Dawn and, told Shopify: "Branding is everything in business, especially fashion. It is part of the statement you make. It defines the brand more clearly."

She also emphasised the importance of maintaining brand consistency across all social platforms.

This is a unique sector, where brand perceptions and relationships are intrinsically linked to concepts such as individual self-confidence and how people want to present themselves. Consumers want to feel enthused and inspired by fashion brands, something that is very difficult to achieve without carefully tailored and conveyed language.

A recent Fashion United blog pointed out that online shops are placing a growing emphasis on being inspirational. One brand, Net-a-Porter, has taken the approach of publishing a weekly online fashion magazine and a daily editorial newsletter, clearly attaching a lot of importance to regular and consistent communications with customers.

An industry with a bright future

Fashion retail brands that get their language and customer engagement strategies right will be in a strong position to succeed in an industry with an exciting future.

Data presented by Shopify in its latest Fashion and Apparel Industry Report indicated that the ecommerce fashion sector is set to see worldwide revenue increase from $481.2 billion (£365.9 billion) in 2018 to $712.9 billion by 2022.

One of the key factors driving this trend is the expansion of global markets outside the West. This underlines just how important it is for brands eyeing international expansion to have strong language and communication strategies in place to target specific countries and demographics.

Rapidly expanding markets might offer some of the greatest potential for growth, but there are still big opportunities to be seized in established locations. In the UK, for example, online sales of clothing, fashion accessories and footwear increased by 17 per cent in 2017, according to Mintel.

There is clearly a lot of potential and scope for success in the fashion retail sector for businesses that are able to build strong brands and forge loyal customer relationships.

If your company hopes to achieve these goals on the international stage, make sure you can rely on the services of an experienced language partner to get full value out of your content and communications.

Image credit: golibo via iStock

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