Whether you have your own web site to sell your work, an Etsy shop, or just a presence on a site such as ArtFire, it is important to have a distinctive image for yourself, your business, and your products. The work of creating such an image is called branding, and a having good/effective brand is essential to your success. Getting the brand right can make the difference between people lingering (and buying!) or just taking a quick look, only to click away and never return.
Your brand is like the front door of your business, or the sign that leads people to it. You wouldn't open a shop without a well-designed sign, would you? The goal is to get people so familiar with you (and the symbols/images that help to shape your image) that your ideal customer recognizes it, thinks about it (positively), and seeks it out as their most desirable source for what you are trying to sell. Creating a brand isn't as simple as just putting up a shop or web site and selling products. Some companies spend billions a year to develop a distinctive image. Think about Apple's famous apple image, the big bald man with an earring (Mr. Clean), or Xerox (so popular it became a synonym for photocopying). Obviously you can't spend that kind of money, so what can you do to develop this essential business advantage?
Here are a few tips for developing your own distinctive brand:
- Define who you are and what you stand for.
Let people know who you are, what you care about, and why they should care about your product. Make sure they know what they can expect when they do business with you. (This can be achieved through your shop and product descriptions, the type of photographs you take, the way you interact and market, your customer service, the product itself – and even through the type of policies you put in place for returns, shipping, customer satisfaction, etc.) Here are some critical questions to ask yourself as you begin to develop an idea for your brand:
o Why do you do what you do?
Think about how your story fits into your brand. The story behind your products attracts customers because it helps them understand that what you're buying is special – and by extension, it makes them feel special. Etsy has a great article about how to tell your story here: https://blog.etsy.com/en/2012/get-gift-worthy-how-to-market-your-products-for-the-holidays-and-beyond/
o What is it that makes your product important, consistent, and special? How is it different from similar items found elsewhere?
What does your product reliably and uniquely bring to the table? You need to clearly articulate what you offer, what you value, and what people can expect from you and your product. What makes your handcrafted jewelry (or other product) different from that of others'; how do your gemstone earrings kick the butts of gemstone earrings of your competitors? What is unique about you that can serve your customer's needs?
- Develop an eye-catching logo
If you have your own web site or shop, make sure to develop an eye-catching logo. It can be anything you want, but make it memorable, make it relevant to your product, and make it high quality. If you have a choice about where to invest your start-up resources, invest in an excellent graphic designer. You can search google for talented people who will do this for a reasonable fee; if you're on Etsy, there are many people offering their services to create your shop logo. Consult with the designer to make sure they truly understand you, your business, and the image you are trying to project. They should also understand your 'target market' – who is your ideal customer, and what type of image would appeal to them? If you can do some market research to determine who your audience is, prior to development of the logo, even better. Small Business Development Centers (as described in my previous post here: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/249-living-the-life-of-a-jewelry-entrepreneur) have experts who can help you with this, for free! And don't forget, your logo is the gift that just keeps giving. You can use it not only on your 'banner', but on business cards, letterhead, signs, and even product packaging as well – to constantly reinforce that image you want to make unforgettable.
- Make your packaging pop!
The care you put into packaging and shipping orders is an important part of your brand. If you sell an item that could be a gift, consider offering free or for-purchase gift wrapping services. Also, what message are you sending with your packaging choices? Think carefully about colors, material, and overall composition. Another great article on Etsy provides some helpful advice – here: https://blog.etsy.com/en/2012/packaging-ideas/
- Make it Memorable.
Customers are delighted when you include some small, unexpected gift (a discount coupon for their next purchase, a free chain, or other thoughtful detail). Whatever it is should compliment your item and further your brand message.
Most important of all – never underestimate the power of a strong brand! It can be your company's most valued asset. Brands are based on a promise and built through consistent customer experience. Each customer interaction is an opportunity that can make or break the customer's relationship with the brand. And when you develop a consistent brand image, your target customers will invest emotionally in your business, become loyal to it, and be your biggest advocates.
For more reading on branding your shop or site, check out this great blog post from Etsy: https://blog.etsy.com/en/2014/5-branding-opportunities-to-boost-your-sales/
And here are a couple of examples of branding strategies we love:
Here, Sabine of Eon Design on Etsy deftly communicates her brand of organic, unpretentious jewelry inspired by nature: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EONDesign/about?ref=shopinfo_about_leftnav
And we are impressed by the 'Bohemian' brand Sabrina and Dante exhibit here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Mocahete/about?ref=shopinfo_about_leftnav
We hope you will take the time to comment here (pretty, pretty please!!) about any thoughts/questions, and your own experiences with branding. We love hearing from you!!
Until Next Time,