By Sarah Sewell
What’s a BRAND?
A brand is so much more than a pretty logo or catchy name. It is more than a great font and a business card. All those things are important to a brand yes, but a brand is MORE than that. Think of your brand as your business’s identity. It is the essence of who you are as a maker, the product you create and the values your hold in business. The image you send out to the masses, the message you state, the feeling you give out... that is all representation of your brand.
Have you ever seen something online, maybe an ad or a video or a product and known right away if it was for you, or if not for you perhaps a friend or family member? The feeling that ad gave you, the vision, the message… those feelings were representing that specific brand.
For example, when I say Chick-fil-a what does that make you think about? Perhaps if you are a more religious person you might think it is a stand up business with core values that are important to you, or maybe you are more liberal and are repelled by its stand on other controversial topics? Or maybe you could care less... you might just be a sucker for a good chicken sandwich and a frosted lemonade! Either way Chick-fil-a’s brand is well defined. There is a certain opinion or feeling around their brand. It will either attract you or repel you. Those it attracts is Chick-fil-a’s target audience. They have built their brand to attract in those they want to sell to and those they KNOW will buy their product.
Branding yourself and your craft business is like knitting a quilt... and all the little pieces that describe your brand are the squares you use to complete the whole blanket. These pieces will include the look and feel of your brand:
- Business Name
- Logo & Visuals
- Theme or Style of Shop (Physical or Digital)
- Materials used to create
- Brands Voice
- Words you use to describe your brand/products
- Graphics for ads and marketing materials
All of these things come together to complete the look, feel and message of your brand. This finished quilt tells the world who you are as a business. It is important that you take your time when building your brand and it is the foundation your business is built on.
Tips to get started:
- Decide on a NAME: Short and catchy is great as long as it speaks to your audience. Pick something that won’t be hard to spell or pronounce. As an ecommerce business you want to be found online, you won’t be found if your name is being misspelled in the search engines. Also, in the process of picking out a name, research to make sure nobody else is using it and make sure it is available. When you land on the one, go to google domains and buy your URL. .com is recommended as it is the most popular. If .com isn’t available, we like .co as an alternative. Grab your name on allllll the social media sites as well especially on the main ones: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter
- Make your Visuals SHINE: What does your brand stand for? Take Nike for example. When you think about the visuals of Nike you see all sorts of visuals of men and women doing some form of athletics. If you look at my own brand at Artisan Indie, I am always sharing photos of makers, artists, and designers creating something. You want to share and showcase BEAUTIFUL imagery and photos. If you aren’t a natural born photographer, then purchase stock photos or hire a photographer. Visuals and Imagery makes allll the difference when it comes to attracting people to your brand. Your photos should speak directly to your audience. The goal would be to create brand recognition, that when people see certain imagery or photos they would automatically think of your brand.
- BE AUTHENTIC: In today’s noisy digital world, the ads and the gimmicks are plenty. The brands that are going to have the most success are the ones who are REAL. You as a handmade seller has an advantage because YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. Consumers buy from artisans for a reason…. they want handmade or one of a kind for a purpose. They aren’t going to Walmart to buy your goods, they are on Etsy, or your own site, or at a craft show and they want something different than what they can find everywhere else…. they want real…. they want you.
All this being said you still want to leave room for your brand to evolve. You want to make sure when you pick a name, theme, slogan, visuals etc. that you aren’t boxing yourself in too much. There is a fine balance when building a brand. You don’t want to be too vague, but you don’t want to be to niche either. Businesses evolve and grow over time. You may be making nursery décor now but overtime it may evolve into home décor. A too specific name might turn some people away.
I had a client who started her entrepreneurial journey by making baby clothes. Like most crafters turned business owners, she started making things for her family. She was a new mom and decided to make clothing for her new little one…. this lasted for a few years but as the baby got older and as she started getting requests for older children and even shirts for moms her shop evolved into all type of clothing. She ended up having to do a BIG rebrand because her business was branded originally towards babies, with a name that included the word baby and pastel visuals.
Rebranding is sometimes what a business has to go through but know when that happens you can lose some traction in growing your business. As creatives we are continually changing our styles and methods….as humans we evolve and more than likely our products will too. This doesn’t mean to always go neutral in your branding, some of the most successful shops I know are very niche in their business and their branding, but if you feel like you could at some point branch out and include other products that might speak to different markets, you may want to pic a name that is evergreen, something that can move with you no matter what you add or take away from your product offering.
Challenge: What message or feeling is your brand giving to the public? Take a look at what you are projecting out there in the world. IS your message consistent? Do your ads and promotions have the same look and feel. Do they have the same underlying message.. or are they kind of all over the place? You want imagery of you and your brand to feel cohesive and well put together.
The same goes for yourself when you are presenting yourself as part of your brand. If you go LIVE on your social media pages are your appearance, attire, and background speaking for your brand? For example, if you have a rustic theme business you wouldn’t have hot pink neon signs set up behind you while speaking to your audience. You want the look and feel to be in line with the message your brand represents.
Today do a critique of your social media sites, websites, craft show set ups etc. and make sure you are being consistent and holding true to your brand. Recruit some of your best friends, fans or followers and ask them what they see and feel when interacting with your brand. Sometimes its feedback from others that helps us grow the most.