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Friday, April 10, 2009

Shop Talk Friday: Branding

The concept of branding is actually very simple, and it can be a powerful tool for the handmade entrepreneur. When you create a brand, you are using design to create a unified picture for the customer of a way of life, an idea, value, or feeling that you wish to relate to your products.

Victoria’s Secret is a good example of branding - everything from their packaging to their signature colors, signs, ads, and stores reflect a cohesive idea that resonates with their customers.

Another example of this is Starbucks’ emphasis on the coffee house atmosphere - the idea of a European-style, relaxed environment where people could come, drink excellent coffee, and relax is integral to the image they want to create in their customers’ minds. That initial concept formed the foundation for their brand, and they built upon it with colors - peaceful, darker greens, beiges, wood and earth tones, signage that was recognizable but lower-key (no neon), and so on.

There are three things you need to know to create a brand for yourself:
  1. Your target audience and your competition
  2. The visual identity that you want to create - product, packaging, logos, promotional items and ads
  3. How your products and services are/will be delivered to your customer (quality, reliability, uniqueness, price, speed, etc.)
Think about what makes your product unique. We’ve covered this part in past Shop Talk articles, but if you need some help, ask friends, coworkers, family, teammates for some help in this area. I will also be recommending some links and books at the end.

What makes your product different from the competition?

Think about who you are talking to (potential customers) and what you want to tell them. How you do this is your visual identity.

A well-designed product is the most important part of the branding idea. You can have all of the other components in place, but without a good product that people connect with, you won’t be successful in the long run.

Now, let’s boil this down to the practical:

You can design everything you need (banners, business cards, promotional postcards, etc) with simple tools like Gimp, Picasa, Microsoft Publisher, and other software, or you can research online printers like Vista Print who can provide templates, or work from your own designs. It may cost you time, but it doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money, and it pays for itself in the long run.

The goal of branding is to create a recognizable look for your items that set them apart from the parade of things people see on a daily basis. It takes creativity (the Chick-Fil-A cows, for example), consistency (Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses appear in every holiday ad they create) and a cohesive idea of what you would like people to think about when they see your products (every Old Navy store emphasizes relaxed style).

So your homework over the next two weeks is to gather together your current business cards, your shop banner, website colors and signage, promotions, ads, packaging. Do they look cohesive? If yes, do you like the look? If not, what changes can you make? Experiment with various looks, colors, and type styles to see what you like, and what appeals. Ask yourself what kind of “look” your design has - does it fit your product and the people you are trying to sell to?

Some additional resources for practical application:

D.I.Y – Design It Yourself , Edited by Ellen Lupton. Covers everything from basic design, to business cards, branding, packaging, and more. A very helpful beginners’ resource.

The Creative Entrepreneur- DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam.

The Etsy Storque also has articles on branding, packaging, and more that can be very helpful.

~ Kristen
Team Co-Leader


Pretty Cheap Jewelry said...

I've seen my own biz cards/banner/photos and the like so much for the past several years it's hard to be objective and use a fresh eye!!

maybe I need a PCJ vacation...

kristen said...

I think that's a really common thing :)

You could trade with another team member and each of you look at the other person's designs. The more you see your own stuff and work with it, the harder it is to decide if anything needs changing or if its all good...

Of course, heading to the bahamas would probably give you some fresh eyes too :D!

Noadi said...

Good post. Branding is something I work very hard at. I'm still piecing together things but it's improving all the time.

I also wrote a little article on branding here:

RAWVOLTA said...

Hello, everyone..
I have a technical question.
I would love to get to know artsy twitters, but it seems like there is no list on this web site of people from Etsy who twitt.. What's the purpose of putting Etsy twitter (Team badge) on my web site ?
Please, help!;-)

Ambient Lights said...

Great post! This is something that's a work in progress myself also but I'm getting there =)

Kristin at My Art and the Mom in Me said...

What a fantastic post, Kristen!! Gives me a LOT to think about! :)

Linda said...

Thanks for the article. I surely need to think about branding. (teammate)

Stacie said...

Great post- thanks. I also like the idea about fresh eyes to look things over.

LAURA said...

hmm... never thought about needing branding for my ETSY shop and my jewelry. Something to work on this week- and good examples you gave here!

Amanda Conley said...

Very good article with great tips! Thanks!

Exquisite Accessories said...

Thanks I think I am getting there so it all flows & looks the same I will deffinetly keep working at it.

South Paw Studios said...

SO glad that this article got featured on etsy success! GO Team! great article.

steph said...

really well written article guys!

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