You hear a lot these days about being an 'authentic brand.' Perceived authenticity can be accomplished with the aid of brand guidelines and standards however the best examples are those companies that are living and expressing effortlessly their core brand “essence” with every action. Every communication exchange, post, product and purchase experience should tie back to a central idea. With small business this focal point or what I call ‘brand essence’ is usually rooted within the passion, personality and approach of the owner, inventor or creator of the brand. The people behind the brand, often are the brand.
Dotty Dress Studio is an example of a small business that exudes brand authenticity.
Heather Wilson-Bolt founded Dotty Dress in 2010. After many years as a sales representative in the apparel industry she saw a gap; a need in the marketplace. That, combined with her own personal passion for fashion design and armed with a problem to solve, she launched Dotty Dress Studio. It’s all about Heather’s lifestyle and how she chooses to approach her own wardrobe. Heather loves fashion, appreciates a practical wardrobe and understands wholeheartedly the closet crisis that many working moms face on a daily basis. She knows we want to throw something on that looks stylish and professional but that ultimately is comfortable and offers easy care.
Heather’s unique personality shines through her brand. She loves wine (and knows we do too), has a wicked sense of humour and is a staunch supporter of women. She is a working Mother of 3 and first hand appreciates the juggling act that us “Moms” go through. She understands us, because she is one of us. She understands our predicament: I need a great outfit that offers effortless style, that I can machine wash, throw in a bag for my business trip, that can take me from a work meeting to my kid’s soccer practice and oh yeah that camouflages my “trouble spots.” Heather’s solution is presented in a way that speaks to us – a great dress that does all of the above and more.
She gets real and doesn’t shy away from what many women are thinking. Many of us have “muffin tops” or what Heather likes to call “wine belly.” She designs tunics and dresses with a careful cut around the waistline that is forgiving to all body shapes. All of her tunic and dress fabrics are stretchy, machine washable and wrinkle free; perfect for work, leisure and travel. I am one of Heather’s customers and my key travel pieces are Dotty. You can dress them down with sandals and tights, and up with heels and jewels. She will tell you honestly if you look “hot” or “not” when you try something on in her Danforth Avenue boutique. Heather exhibits twice yearly at the one of kind craft show – she knows this is where her audience goes and you can count on Heather being in the booth 14 hours a day. She is hands on and plans to keep it that way. She can personally offer her style advice because she knows what style suits different body shapes and offers suggestions of staples in your own closet that will work with your new piece. Not only do you get a great new tunic, you get some great advice to go along with it.
Heather (center) with her models who are friends and customers. 2017
Heather gets it because she is designing her business for women like her. This gives her the voice to design, problem solve and communicate with her audience. She designs and manufactures her garments in Toronto, produced by an all female production team, hires female photographers and her models are her friends and customers; vibrant women of all ages, shapes and sizes.
Heather is in the business of making women look beautiful, but more importantly making them feel beautiful. At the end of the day that is her focus and she consistently delivers this message through her designs, marketing and communications, and the total Dotty brand experience.
In order for a brand to feel authentic is needs to be authentic; a natural extension of you and your approach. Articulate your brand DNA, craft a specific look, tone and feel and communicate a unique brand voice. Do this, and you are on your way to attracting customers who identify with you and your product or service. In the end, they are more apt to stick with you because they love your product and align with your brand values.
Find out more about Dotty at dottydressstudio.com
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