Lingerie Manufacturers Reveal the Secrets of Successful Branding

Genie Davis

To keep brands fresh and memorable, lingerie and clothing companies are continuously evolving their brands and collections.

Jeff Baker, president at Magic Silk in Hauppage, N.Y., says his company has evolved and upgraded the photography they use in packaging and catalogs.

We have a very upscale yet sexy package design, that creates a high perceived value. Value isn’t necessarily price, it’s a component of value, but over all it is the feeling that an item is worthwhile. -Jeff Baker, Magic Silk

“We’re spending more money and putting more effort into model selection, locations and photography. We have the largest selection of packaging in the industry as well, so we keep it fresh, and are constantly updating it to creatively support our stores and our customers.” Baker notes, “We produce custom flyers by product, or however the customer prefers. We can create and print pretty inexpensively, so it’s easy for us to customize.”

Baker bases rebranding or updating his company’s look on feedback. “One negative remark registers, but three is the magic number. We’re very receptive and listen to our customers.”

Baker says his branding reflects his customers well. “We have a very upscale yet sexy package design, that creates a high perceived value. Value isn’t necessarily price, it’s a component of value, but over all it is the feeling that an item is worthwhile. We’re very big on garment quality, too. It’s important to us that when our customers take our product out of the box, they’re still smiling when they open it.”

Because Baker’s customers are wholesale, they are already very familiar with his brand, and he focuses on marketing individual collections. “We send out announcements, we print out a supplement to our catalog, do email blasts, mailings, and we get on the phone, as well as making direct contact at trade shows — all to let our customers know about our collections.”

At Baci Lingerie, media coordinator Veronica Rajadnya explains that Baci’s branding has always been and continues to be “rooted in elegance and impossible to ignore. Lavish photography, gold and white motifs and over-the-top presentations at trade shows are what made the brand one of the most recognizable in the industry.” Rajadnya notes, “At the heart of all Baci branding is the now ubiquitous ‘b’ ribbon graphic. It’s instantly recognizable as Baci’s.”

Rajadyna says, “The ‘b’ has also been integrated into our evolving marketing slogans. First used was the phrase ‘Affordable Luxury,’ which was a necessary introduction to the market. It summed up where we were positioned. Next, to show the brand’s intent, we used ‘Celebrate Every Woman.’ Then, once we began to use ‘b’ ribbon, we used phrases such as ‘b powerful’ and ‘b seductive.’ Most recently, to call up a message of personal empowerment, that wording evolved to ‘I can b.’”

Rajadyna knows it’s time to change or re-brand based on a variety of factors. “We look at market response, customer feedback, and sometimes it’s simply the next great idea comes along. We consider our updates an evolution, not a revolution. Each iteration must speak to its predecessors so we don’t lose established recognition.”

Baci’s branding reflects its primary goal to offer its customers personal strength. “We do that by providing garments that make them feel good, whether that means the fulfillment of a fantasy or just the sexy confidence of knowing that they’re wearing something special. Our ‘I can b’ campaign is a direct callout to that philosophy.”

Rajadyna notes that the company’s name, Baci, means kisses in Italian. “It’s a nod to the brand’s European roots. The refined lines and sensual shape of the logo can be used in many different ways, such as for our ‘b’ ribbon or the use of the ‘c’ as a moon on our After Dark packaging.” For Rajadyna, it’s more important for the company to be recognized as a brand first, and for its individual collections, second.

At Seven til Midnight in El Monte, Calif., sales executive Cathy Whorley, says that her company’s branding and marketing has changed primarily to reflect the prevalence of social media. “It’s the trend for this generation. Instagram, Facebook, people are all about taking pictures. We try to provide video images, which we call Flicks, and we work to create the best still images that we can for our catalog, online stores and social media. You want to reach as many people with hash tags as you can. Social media has definitely changed everything. It’s free advertising, and if you’re not on Instagram, you need to be. Everyone has access to it these days through their phones.”

Whorley says the company knows when re-branding is key by keeping up with the trends. “We like to feed off our consumers to see what’s popular. We had a cat theme because it was popular during Halloween, and then this year the popular looks are cowboy and Bohemian. We don’t want to change our look completely; we just incorporate something different every year. We couldn’t continue without our customers, so their feedback and opinions are very important. Our customers are very good as far as letting us know whether they like our look.” She notes that the brand has a sophisticated niche, “We have a range of fashion silhouettes that will appeal to many different types of clientele.”

Whorley says that the company’s name, Seven ‘til Midnight, was selected to represent the moment when the fun begins. “It’s that Cinderella moment, a rush of excitement and anticipating what’s to come.” As her customers recognize the brand more than individual collections, Whorley says the company works to introduce new collections with the same recognizable seductive sophistication.

At Shirley of Hollywood in Hollywood, Calif., Dana Walczuk, director of design, reports that as the company is geared to wholesale, the biggest branding change in recent years has been going online. “We also supply retail owners with images on white backgrounds as well as full backgrounds, so they can upload our fashion photos more easily. And of course, we now use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.” As far as re-branding, Walczuk bases her decisions, as do many of her peers, on customer feedback. “We listen. Our stores are very sexy, so we do everything to appeal to them in a classy but sexy fashion.”

The company’s name began with Walczuk’s grandfather when the company was founded in 1948. “It’s named for one of our customers. Using her name was a trade in lieu of paying her bills with the company.”

In regard to marketing the company’s brand versus a collection, Walczuk says both the overall brand and individual collections are highly recognizable. “We have four major lines. Shirley of Hollywood is our most sophisticated line of lingerie. We also have a plus size line called Intimate Attitude up to size 6X, packaged lingerie and plus sized lingerie in the Hot line, and our Hot hosiery for stockings, thigh highs, and panty-hose. Regardless of which line they buy, our customers know that when they buy from us, our quality is equal to our popularity. There won’t be any problems with returns or issues with customers.”

Marcus Horea, vice president of Coquette in Cambridge, Ontario notes that his company’s branding has evolved to include models with a slightly older look. “We use models that are between the ages of 21 to 35 whereas in the past we consistently used models in their early 20s. Our demographic is primarily women between the ages of 25 to 49. We continue to push the envelope with sexy shots that still look tasteful. We also updated our logo six years ago to create a more current look for Coquette.” The company made the change because “The logo used to have lips as a part of the graphic, and we felt they had a ‘70s feel.”

Making changes like these or any updating is based on awareness of the marketplace, Horea says. “We generally change the look of our website every two years. Packaging is something we seem to change quite often with the exception of our stocking packaging. We usually make packaging changes to accommodate our customers’ shelf space.” Horea’s customers recognize and respond to the company name primarily, rather than individual collections.

Overall, keeping brands fresh yet recognizable is a vital and on-going part of lingerie and clothing sales.

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