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What fashion and marketing have in common

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Ganguro girl, Tokyo. Photo credit: Alex de Carvalho

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Here’s something I hadn’t really thought about: the analogous relationship between B2B and haute couture. In fact, fashion in general. And marketing in general.

Both are often considered a bit lightweight and wishy-washy by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Both involve presenting an entity (be it a person or a company) in a particular way. Fashion designers who create something bespoke for an individual are presenting the person wearing it with a message in mind. Clothes make a statement, even if that statement is “I wear stuff that’s comfy” or “clothes are there to keep you warm and make you decent, beyond that I don’t care”.

Most of the time people do care what they wear, even if they claim they don’t. They’re identifying themselves with a particular group, even if it’s the green-hair-and-neon-knickers-with-leopard-print brigade that hang out in Hoxton. This gives out a message, which the person who sees them picks up on and interprets, which then affects how they interact with them.

You can’t complain that you didn’t get the job as a stockbroker because you wore PVC and a bone through your nose to the interview instead of a suit. People market themselves through their clothes. You didn’t position yourself as a stockbroker, and your messages were wrong for the market. That’s not prejudice, that’s marketing.

The bottom line is it matters how you market yourself. Whether you’re getting dressed in the morning or reassessing your company’s positioning and messages, if you ignore marketing you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Obviously there still has to be substance behind the style, otherwise it’s all mouth and no (forgive the pun) trousers. Marketing with no substance is quickly unmasked for what it is, but good marketing and a great company is a killer combination. We only do the latter here, naturally.

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