Here’s a quick challenge for you: take one minute to name your top 20 Christian brands.
If that’s too hard, name your top 10 from memory.
Okay, your top 5?
Unless you’re really plugged into the Christian fashion scene, most people will struggle with this challenge and if that’s you, don’t feel bad! I was the same.
Being a curious person, I decided to find out who’s out there and in doing so, I found tons of great brands – and they keep coming!
One thing’s for sure: it was a painful exercise. You could lose a whole day scouring the internet, and who’s got that kind of time?
I was determined to find as many as possible, but the more I searched, the more I wondered why they were so hard to find. So here’s my professional opinion on this, and what we can do about it (gotta have solutions!)…
There’s no marketplace.
What’s a marketplace?
Just like the place you go to for your weekly fruit and veg (or the shopping mall if you don’t have these), a marketplace is a gathering of business owners with something (hopefully) useful to sell and their buyers.
These gatherings have many benefits, such as having a single location for all of your shopping needs; this means there’s no need for you to hunt around town for your favourite shop – you go straight to the market because everyone is there.
Here in London, we have many focused markets for different products – think fish markets, clothes markets, cooked food markets, antique markets and so on. Focused markets mean that you turn up to the market day that relates to your interest.
Enter the Internet, and this model is blown to smithereens!
You have no central location, no gathering, no themed days, just… Google. This can be a recipe for disaster if you want to find or be found.
What we can do?
To tackle this, we need to create a new, virtual marketplace. This is actually not as difficult as it may seem.
I also think there’s a reason we don’t see marketplaces.
Fear is a common problem, and I think the world of Christian Clothing has been a target. One form is the fear of competition; the idea that if your customers are exposed to other brands, you won’t do as well.
This kind of fear is rooted in a lack of identity, confidence and faith.
The irony of this is that competition is good for business! It’s counterintuitive but true.
For one, when two brands are promoting themselves, they seek to stand out by improving their service, which is great for customers who will be more likely to tell others about it.
The other benefit is that friendly competition actually attracts attention to the market.
When I say friendly competition, I mean simply acknowledging that another brand is also in the market and offers similar products or services. It’s not bad-mouthing or one-upmanship.
Finally, most people don’t buy from only one clothing brand, so it’s worth noting that people will go elsewhere, regardless of how much they like a particular brand.
Another issue linked to competition is the fear of collaboration. Interestingly, at the time of writing this, I know of a few brands that are collaborating with secular brands (which I think is savvy work) but I am yet to see any Christian brands do this with each other.
Collaboration enables brands to create something more powerful than they could have individually; as it says in God’s word, one will put to flight 1,000 and two 10,000! (végéta gif) Brands can reach new audiences through collaboration. New ideas can be born by combining styles and approaches to products.
Finally and importantly, collaboration shows unity in the body of Jesus Christ, something we desperately need today.
To get there, we need to be willing to reach out to other brand owners and have genuine conversations. Becoming friends or associates is a great way to start, it can lead to collaboration and also squash fear and misunderstanding between brands.
Brands should also be happy to help each other, especially those starting out.
We should show the world how it’s done.
One serious reason it’s hard to find great Christian brands is technical ignorance. Brand owners are not necessarily techies, so there are many things they are not even thinking about.
Everyone has something to say, and using a blog is the best way to keep a site updated with fresh content that people want to read. A proper blog can seriously change things for a brand, drawing interested customers in from all over the web.
When blogging, it helps to know about search engine optimisation so that Google can find you and share your site for relevant searches. This means using the right titles, subheadings and keywords in your articles, and (super tip) making the article relevant for the keyword. In other words, you can’t just write any old drivel (link) and shove in the word ‘T-shirt’ here and there, because Google will smell that from a mile away. This is turning into another article, I’ve said enough.
- Helpful product description
Another great tech tip is to have distinct and useful product descriptions. This is helpful for customers and also for Google.
- Product listings ratings
Having your brand’s products added to online listings and rating sites will naturally increase its visibility. Here are a few examples to get you started:
· Google Shopping
Here’s what you can do…
- If you are new to the scene, check out our reviews and articles on Christian Brands as a great place to start, and share them with others to create market awareness! This is key, as sharing helps others find these central locations until they become the norm.
- Tell your church community about the Kingdom Marketplace! Why not? It will encourage Christian brands, the Kingdom economy and, I suspect, your pastors and leaders.
- Encourage brands to collaborate more! Reach out to brands you think should collab, and tell them to connect! Asking is free, and you can be influential in shaping the market.
I hope this has been insightful and helpful. We can each take small steps to cause big shifts in the shape of the marketplace. Let’s go!
Got any questions? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org