Branding is a fundamental for the success of any brand. For established brands, it’s all about making sure the brand remains instantly recognisable and for new brands, it’s about conveying the brand proposition to attract, engage and retain the customer.
For new brands exhibiting at Playtime Paris perhaps for the first time, branding can be a key factor for a buyer to decide whether or not to buy the brand. Does it match the target audience, how consistent is it and how is it communicated are all questions a buyer will ask.
We explore these factors with some of the brands that are exhibiting at the next show. Lara Muchin-Shaw from British brand Caramel is clear that their brand has a definitive USP (unique selling point) and that the brand is very much a symbol of understated luxury. Their brand proposition: "delivers finely crafted artisan pieces that are as beautiful as they are functional, British modern styles cut from heritage cloths".
She tells us that they "only use the finest quality materials, enormous attention to detail and an unflinching way with colour to produce a collection every season of modern classics".
Lara feels that the Caramel brand does have a personality and that there is nothing ‘shouty’ about the brand. She hopes that the clothes are like old friends in that they become much loved, well worn, wardrobe staples.
The Caramel brand has evolved over the years but most recently because they launched a womenswear and interiors collection last year. They guard their brand carefully and feel that there is a very specific way they like to communicate which adheres to the design vision of Eva Karayiannis, the creative director and founder of the brand. As the brand has evolved into launching brand extensions with Caramel Woman, the challenge has been to ensure it develops its own strong identity and it is just not the ‘mum’ version of their childrenswear. They recognize that the women who wear this are not necessarily women who have children but who appreciate Caramel’s idiosyncratic colour palette and approach to a relaxed, elegant way of dressing. Caramel exudes timeless simplicity.
Meanwhile, Dorina Hartman from Berlin based, fledgling maternity and baby change bag brand, mara mea sees their customers not just as mothers, but more importantly as women – a modern woman with high requirements of design, functionality and comfort. mara mea develops timeless but on trend products, which thanks to their versatility, support women in many aspects of motherhood and day-to-day life. All mara mea products can be worn before, during and after the pregnancy and nursing period.
Photo credit: Dorina and Maren from mara mea
In defining the mara mea brand, Dorina describes the brand as:
"A little bit of boho, a little bit of elegant. Colourful hippie chic for every day."
This can be seen through the use of vibrant colour and geometric print designs that make the brand recognisable whether in maternity, baby bags or childrenswear.
The mara mea diaper bag is a shoulder bag, shopper bag and backpack all in one. It is a shopping companion, business bag and baby change bag at the same time. The range also includes nursing scarves and dresses which can be worn during and after the pregnancy and nursing periods. The designers take their inspiration from trips to exotic countries and the discovery of new cultures. Clean, functional and graphic details from Europe in combination with extravagant ethno prints and embroidery create an urban, on trend and timeless mix, which distinguishes mara mea from other brands.
Photo credit: mara mea
So where does the brand name originate? The word ‘mara‘ comes from the Latin word 'Samara' and was chosen because it reminded Dorina and Maren of childhood memories of sticking maple seeds on their noses while playing. The maple seed, a symbol of happiness and life for Dorina and Maren, formed inspiration for the mara mea logo. The word Mea is Latin and means "My Love", and supports the company’s overall philosophy of promoting and reinforcing motherly love.
The mara mea brand is a fledgling brand as they only launched 18 months ago. In this time, they have embraced their brand and not deviated from it, receiving customer feedback that reassures them that the brand is recognisable. mara mea successfully marry up their branding with their communication through the support of their 'mara mea' world.
Ohma! based in Barcelona has a distinctive brand name which automatically communicates 'mum or mother'. They want to convey that Ohma! has soul and believe they can dress pregnant women in their usual style.
Photo credit: Ohma!
"Ohma! brand is young, cool, fresh, fashionable, friendly, technic, high fitting level, good quality, many fabric quality offer, our own branding messages, quite good and competitive price range."
The brand has evolved very quickly, adapting to new trends and technologies every season. It’s cool and at the forefront of fashion. They are a young team that is growing and interact with social networks almost daily.
Photo credit: Ohma!
Ohma! keep the integrity of their branding image consistent but have different colour ranges and formats depending on the season and media.
"Our first step challenge is to keep on growing the branding positioning. We want the brand to be in the top ten maternity well-known brands. Our optimum challenge would be that consumers will automatically associate pregnancy with our brand without even thinking about it."
From maternitywear and baby bags, we also explored the world of baby and children’s shoes. Australian brand Old soles jumped out at us with branding that delivers a strong message of “style, comfort and protection for growing feet” producing shoes that can be worn both everyday and for special occasions so that kids can show their true colours but at the same time explore a sophisticated fashion landscape.
Photo credit: Old Soles
Embracing catwalk designs, designer Vicki Lever endeavours to translate the adult shoe market and fashion trends into her baby and kids range but only when all features that are important for different stages of growing feet are in place, baby and kids foot health takes precedent.
"Old Soles branding is an evolving space, our marketing team ensure the message Old Soles wants to convey is up to date with the ever changing designs. Old Soles incorporates all countries branding requirements so to pass on the knowledge globally, the world is a small place these days."
Photo credit: Old Soles
Old Soles recognise the challenges going forwards but embrace the idea that there's no limit to being versatile. As a global company Old Soles has had to adapt to different markets and now successfully manages all countries with ease, doing the ground work and understanding different the different consumers.
Mona Moon from Ukraine believe that pregnancy is not a reason for compromising fashion and the perfect look. They believe that their brand cultivates fashion clothes for happy women:
"We are encouraged by confident and independent women. We work for women who are expecting a child and aware of the latest trends in fashion, technology and knowledge. We create collections day by day thinking about women around the world. Mona Moon is made by happy women for other happy women."
Photo credit: Mona Moon
Mona Moon is very much a young brand made with passion. From the beginning they have decided to be coherent with their brand mission. They don’t want to produce mass-market and concentrate instead on a combination of quality and fashion. They fundamentally believe that true beauty in clothes comes from premium fabric and that expectant mothers deserve the best. Mona Moon designers use only materials bought at the world famous exhibitions; Première Vision in Paris and Milano Unica in Milan.
Mona Moon produces four collections per year which focus both on basic and evening lines. When communicating their branding, they constantly ask; "Where are our clients, the happiest women in the world, now?" They prefer to obtain a low marketing profile but a strong and effective one.
Pregnancy is not an excuse to compromise with the world and its desires. Mona Moon helps to create a unique style, adapting the trends of high fashion. Waiting for the baby is a great event in a woman’s life - many continue to work, inspire colleagues and partners and lead them. To do this, Mona Moon understands that the consumer needs to feel confident, comfortable and relaxed. These two problems are solved by the brand: to maintain confidence and comfort for the mother, so their branding is paramount in maintaining this.
Look out for all these brands at Playtime Paris 28-30 January 2017.