In the world of fashion, the 2010s were defined by a blend of luxury, lifestyle, streetwear, and sportswear. We saw the rise of many high-end yet consumer-friendly brands, such as Outdoor Voices and Lululemon. Even more traditionally sport-focused brands, such as Reebok, Puma, Columbia Sportswear, and Chuck Taylor, took a leap into luxury with high-end collabs with celebrities and athletes.
What’s next for fashion? How do new brands find their place in the dense world of sportswear? And how do they become the next biggest sportswear brand? To take your vision from concept to consumer and thrive in the world of sportswear, it requires attractive branding, business savviness, originality, and market expertise.
A sporting apparel company won’t get very far in the world without attractive branding. Think about it. Would you support a brand in which you dislike its color, concept, and design? The answer is probably no—you wouldn’t.
Brand identity for a sports company often includes a logo, product design, typography, and the overall personality. It’s the tangibles—products, and services that an individual or company provides—and also the intangibles—the set of expectations, stories, connections, and purpose that tie together and influence a customer’s purchase decision.
In other words, attractive branding is the key to the success or failure of a brand in the fashion world. It has to be smart, reliable, and downright desirable. Why? Well, for starters, the athletic apparel market is highly competitive. And everyone, from athletes to designers, such as Rick Owens and Samuel Ross, seems to have taken their shot at the sports, sneaker, and athletic clothing market.
As mentioned, the last decade saw the rise of everyday sports and athleisure clothing. Yoga apparel, running jackets, leggings, t-shirts, and running sneakers are no longer reserved for the gym or outdoors.
Casual attire has become the new business attire, and comfort attire, casual attire. Because of this, high-fashion comfort sports brands such as Puma, Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Air Jordan have become household names.
This also applies to other brands such as Columbia Sportswear, Reebok, and Jordan Brand. However, each of these famous companies couldn’t have become a great lifestyle brand without attractive branding. This begins with a classy color palette.
Consider Your Color Palette
Your color palette is paramount to your brand identity. It’s displayed on your site, clothing, and shoes, and arguably center stage in the consumer’s first impression and a powerful purchase influencer. It’s also key to boosting brand recognition for your company.
Studies have shown that color can increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent. Color plays a significant role in public perception, so it’s essential to be mindful of what your color choice says about your brand.
It’s essential to understand your target audience before selecting the core color palette for your sports brand. What are their likes and dislikes? What motivates them to purchase a product or service?
Consider the mood you want your brand to convey. Is your sports brand meant to be fun and flirty, bubbly and optimistic, classy and sheen? Is your target audience youthful or mature? Once you understand your brand goals and buyer persona, you can narrow your color palette and understand how to well-represent your label.
A few popular color choices to consider are
Blue is one of the most popular color choices for sports teams, snow sports, outerwear, footwear, and apparel brands, such as the popular German brand Adidas, as it represents trust and dependability with the consumer. It is also the most popular purchasing color for a company looking to create a strong presence on their site as it is both familiar and desirable.
Consider the products featured in your favorite apparel, or footwear ads. Odds are, something is blue. This is because the best sportswear brands understand the importance of making a lasting impression on the consumer by showcasing well-established colorways.
Green is a natural and comfortable color. It represents clean, environmentally-friendly, and healthy products and sports brands and signifies wealth, good health, and earth-related concepts.
In recent years, there has been a push towards more sustainable brands in the world as the ice melt has put consumerism and overconsumption on people’s radars. Many brands and popular brand designers are even capitalizing on technical innovation and using recycled polyester and other materials to create new apparel and footwear lines.
An excellent example of a shoe company breaking into sustainable sports sneakers is Reebok. Their recent ReeGrow campaign introduces the world to a line of sneakers that are made from 50% plant-based materials.
Red is one of the most noticeable colors. It’s bold, strong, energetic, and signifies love, passion, and desire. Many of the best sportswear brands in the world use red as their primary color. In fact, in the past few years, red has quickly become one of the most popular sneaker and clothing colors.
Victoria Beckham is an excellent example of a designer capitalizing on this trend, as many of her new product lines include red options. And the recent Stan Smith collab with Adidas boasts red accents and accessories.
Yellow, like the sun, is happy and sweet. It often represents optimism, happiness, warmth, and positivity. The best sportswear brands in the world consider how they want the consumer to feel when wearing their apparel, sneakers, and sportswear.
That’s why yellow is a popular color choice for many famous sportswear brands, such as Columbia Sportswear, New Balance, Chuck Taylor, and Puma as it’s considered light and refreshing.
Purple signifies luxury, class, and sophistication. It’s a rare color in nature, which is why it also points to extravagance and exclusivity. This is a popular choice for some of the best sportswear brands as they attempt to reach a more luxurious market of consumers. And brands such as New Balance, Reebok, and Puma, originally known for their footwear, have maximized color choice to launch new product lines and sneakers that reflect this more classy look and feel.
White represents purity, sophistication, and efficiency. For many sportswear brands wanting to convey exclusivity and luxury, white is an excellent color choice, especially for sneakers.
When we think of traditional running shoes, we likely think of classic, white New Balance, Reebok, or Chuck Taylor shoes. Established in the 20th century, these are some of the most iconic brands in the world. And many of their most successful running shoes, outerwear, and apparel continues to be in the white colorway.
Black is traditionally seen as a symbol of seriousness and professionalism. It also signifies elegance, luxury, and sophistication. Some of the most established brands in the world use black as their consistent colorway. And consumers can’t get enough as it is the best color choice for a range of activities, from exercise to a night out, as it doesn’t show sweat. Many sportswear brands use black in their shoes, clothing, and accessories as it pairs with absolutely any other color.
In recent years, several sports brands have released monotone versions of their logo. Two brands in sportswear that have done this are Reebok and New Balance. This allows them to experiment with several different colors and combinations and test these amongst their audience to see what performs well.
Create an Emotional Connection
Another element that ties into branding is creating an emotional connection with your audience. This is essential to developing brand loyalty, increasing revenue, and thriving for years to come.
An excellent way to accomplish this is to focus on developing campaigns that build and reinforce memory structures in your audience, so when they think of the greatest sportswear brands, they think of you versus your competitors.
An example is the 2021 Lululemon FEEL campaign which addressed mental health and the importance of feeling your best. This campaign connected with their audience on a deeply personal level and boasted consumer confidence in trusting their sportswear products. This leads to increased respect, trust, and loyalty when done in the right manner.
For sportswear brands, consistency is key to success. This applies to your products and services, presence on social media, website, creative content, and messaging. The last thing consumers want is to be confused, especially by a sports and lifestyle brand.
The greatest sportswear brands are simple, attainable, and make you feel good. Sportswear brands need to be consistent, transparent, and boast a reliable track record to accomplish this.
Business savviness is used to describe an individual or company who is communicative, solution-driven, has a clear roadmap or business plan, is accessible, on-track with their goals, and sales-driven. This is the second pillar to launching a successful sportswear brand in 2023 as it is the foundation upon which your sports brand relies. Thousands of sportswear companies come and go every year, so it’s essential to build a solid foundation for your brand.
Create a Fool-Proof Business Plan
A sports brand can’t exist without a solid business plan upon which to build. A business plan gives investors a clear understanding of the sportswear brand, its products, and services, why it’s necessary for consumers, its marketing strategy, proforma and financial statements, and other relevant information.
This is typically the first step of any successful sportswear brand, company, or corporation. It creates the foundation for informed business decisions and investments.
Be Accessible—Online and On Social Media
In our modern world, you must also make your sportswear brand accessible to your audience around the world. Likely, this includes having an online marketplace with your sports products and a well-developed presence on social media.
Consider your social strategy, from ad placement to written and visual content. Remember to focus on your story and maintain a strong sense of your sports brands’ identity. Also remember that accessibility includes engaging with your audience around the world, responding to their comments, and heeding their feedback. This is the most valuable form of communication you can have and is business savviness at its finest.
Fashion is more than just a bodily covering. It’s the principal tool in showcasing our identity. Individuals around the world use fashion to control their outward appearance and personal brand. Fashion is an essential part of our lives because it’s a controllable factor in our lives. And sportswear is no different. This almost matters more as sportswear has combined with luxury and streetwear to become the definition of individuality in style.
Hone in on Your Fashion Skills
You can’t run a successful sportswear company without understanding fashion around the world and the processes within the industry. Hone in on your fashion skills by taking a course online, practicing sewing with a family member or friend, and understanding each part of the manufacturing process. Find your niche within the market, do your research to understand the competition, and have fun with it.
Find Your Niche
Finding your niche is key to lasting success. Ask yourself the reasoning behind the creation of your sportswear company. What consumer problem does it solve? Why is your sports brand important, and what is your differentiator?
By asking yourself the following questions up front, you’ll enhance your business niche and find that it’s much easier to tap into your specific market and gain traction.
Market expertise is essential to understanding what makes your company original. This includes understanding your competition, manufacturing, and your customer base. If you’re new to the sportswear game, don’t fret. There are plenty of free educational tools and resources available to you.
Additionally, it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced partner or agency. They can provide you with advice, guidance, marketing collateral, and more, streamlining your processes from start to finish and resulting in happier customers and fewer headaches.
As mentioned in the previous section, manufacturing is a significant part of launching a successful sports brand in 2023. Some elements of manufacturing are sourcing materials, fabric sourcing and pattern development, sampling, production, quality control, and delivery. In addition to this, to be successful, you must have designs that are well-timed and well-received.
Plan Your Campaigns Around the Seasons
Consider the time of year when scheduling and developing product lines. You likely won’t want to release new shorts and tank tops amid winter. Just like you likely won’t want to roll out a new line of puffers and vests in the summer. Of course, there are exceptions to these guidelines—some sports brands love the shock and awe that accompanies an ill-timed or eye-brow-raising campaign. But for most sports brands, you’ll want to remain in-season and on-trend.
Learn from the Pros
Learn, learn, learn from the pros. There are plenty of examples of successful sportswear brands and strategies that have come before you, and there will be plenty that come after. Similarly, there will be plenty of failures on both ends of the spectrum. Take note of your competitors and listen to what has worked and what hasn’t. This will help you to avoid potential mistakes.
To take your vision from concept to consumer and thrive in the world of sportswear, it requires attractive branding, business savviness, originality, and market expertise.