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Brand Positioning for Designers and Product Companies

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!




Planning your Portfolio Career

A portfolio career can be defined as having a collection of projects that provide you with your active income sources. Portfolio careers are a great choice for those with a wide range of interests. Whether those interests are in the type of work you want to do, the industries you want to work in, or the people and companies you’ve developed relationships with over the years. Having a portfolio career means that you are never reliant upon just one source of income – and should one source dry up, you can go about replacing it with a bit more peace of mind knowing your other project revenue streams are intact.

So how do you create a portfolio career? You start with the portfolio itself. A portfolio is a book highlighting your expertise. It should be designed to be opened and shared with the people you wish to connect with. It shows your best work, your ideas, your creativity and diversity. To create your online portfolio to highlight your career and the opportunities you want to pursue – consider these 3 critical factors:

  1. Register your main website  and give it a name that will stand the test of time – this is a must if you don’t want to spend money and time re-naming your site later. Your site name should be as versatile as the projects you intend to pursue for many years. Picking your main URL with a singular focus in mind defeats the purpose of a portfolio careerist’s pursuits. Use this main site to collect examples of your work and projects, clients, promote your services, classes and events, and provide your reader with high-level/global understanding of what you do. As your interests change and your portfolio blossoms, the page names, navigation and content should be edited to reflect your next career strategy.
  2. Then go about creating additional URLs to highlight your skills for providing service or sharing ideas in various markets. If for example your main page is named, and this year you decide you would like to narrow your focus to marketing for the food and restaurant industry – then your secondary marketing pages should be named and designed to connect with the best customers in that target market  – for example Any advertisements that you create to target your market should then link to these distinctly branded secondary pages.
  3. Understand your point of overwhelm and plan accordingly. Anyone that works independently and juggles their own clients, deadlines and opportunities in various stages of the sales pipeline knows that stress is definitely not limited to people with 9-5 jobs. Therefore, build your income sources wisely. Instead of taking on 5 clients – take on 2, and then create other leveraged, residual or passive income streams. At first these income streams may be more like a dripping faucet, but with time each can be nutured to grow to the point where you don’t have to pursue new clients unless you want to.



Have you heard of Google ThinkInsights?

Nerd and techie alert! Micropreneurs who are creating strategies for their online advertising spend should really take a look over here at Google ThinkInsights. It’s a FREE tool that lets you determine how you enter new markets, determine optimal times to create advertisements and the search terms you should be using to correlate with your particular brand. As I write this note to you, I am reminded of my colleague Peter Marino over at Reel Web Design who has been testing Google algorithms for a while to see how to optimize his SEO/SEM results – and it seems Google has become a bit trickier to set up your website to send you free traffic based on your keywords. I can’t help but think Google is making it that much more difficult because they want to capture more revenue.


Maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t time for us to forget the hunt for the elusive optimization and focus on smart advertising spend. But in the meantime, check out what this free tool offers to micropreneurs – a great deal of data to use as you search for the answer to your search and advertising solutions.