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I’m always up for some inspirational insight into business and find branding especially interesting.  So, when my friend asked if I wanted to go to a workshop last night on branding and merchandising, I was in, no questions asked.  What I didn’t realize is the workshop was put on by Banana Republic in partnership with SFMADE and was held at the Gap, Inc. headquarters in SF.

I know Banana Republic well.  They have clothed me for years.  But, I didn’t know anything about SFMADE.  Turns out, SFMADE promotes local “artists” in all fields and serves as a support network for these folks.  Better said (in their own words!):

SFMade’s mission is to build and support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco,  that sustains companies producing locally-made products, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, and creates employment opportunities for a diverse local workforce (from sfmade.org).

It’s always fascinating to hear how a large, successful corporation tackles things like branding.  In this workshop, five BR Managers/Directors in the Accessories business gave their professional two cents on things from product assortment and long term strategy, social media, storytelling and merchandising.  Here are a few of my takeaways that might click for you too:

  • Think about what you want to be known for and don’t compromise
  • Decide on your target customer (even if fictional) and think about that person in every business decision that you make
  • Engage customers uses all five senses
  • Social media can do a lot for brand loyalty, but you have to be fresh, engaging and make your fans feel special or what’s the point.
  • Tell a story to your customers and read “Made To Stick” to understand why (I’m ordering it now!)
  • Check out SFMADE and see their pop up shop in Banana Republic – Grant Street

Not only am I little more educated this morning, I also have some shopping to do!  SFMADE has a holiday gift fair on December 11th at Fort Mason.  They also have cool factory tours and other events that you can check out on their website.  Thanks SFMADE, Banana Republic and my very connected friend for a fun evening – I didn’t know what I was missing!

 


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