What is Branding?

I know that this may not be the "big time" and for some of us who are just looking for a little extra spending money it's not all that important of an income. For others though, this is what they hope will bring in a little extra to live on, or a lot extra to actually earn a living from. It all takes work, and it always takes time.

Branding is a way to make yourself more recognizable, professional, polished and differentiate your shop from the hundreds (thousands?) of others out there. Think of the commercials you watch on TV, or see in print ads. When you see the red dot with a red circle around it, do you know what store that is? What about the "double arches" or the kingly dude who apparently raps about square butts now? Yeah, once you see that, you tend to remember it.

When you go to the store to get shampoo and look down the aisle, do you read the labels to find your shampoo? Nope, you look for the color and shape of the bottles lined up. They all have something unique that makes them stand out among the others.

A buyer also has the option usually, say in the cereal aisle to get the brand name in the fancy box with the athlete or cartoon on the front, or to choose the little bags down below with the usually cheaper price. Which do you choose? If your favorite cereal or brand changes their packaging, can you find it? Does it drive you nuts when they do this?

I brand my items because I want to be easily recognized and hopefully it makes an impression. In addition, some feel that it shows a businesses intention to persist and be around a while. It's an investment in the future of your shop and identifies yourself to others. It is also important to check your fellow sellers and try to stand apart from them as well. Take a look around...

Your brand also signifies everything about how you do business. It's not just your logo, or what you put on your business cards or stick to your packages. Do you have a mission statement? Some kind of tagline that you want people to know? Lots of people sell what you sell, what can you do to let others know that yours is different? I have experimented with several taglines from "More than just TP" or "support the handmade revolution, buy local", to the current one on my business card "Handmade jewelry and supplies direct from the artist". I actually have two types of business cards depending on where I give them out.

I do my own logos and branding because I am a control freak over my business. Plus I want to be sure that I have all the tools needed to reproduce that brand and add it to other elements. Another thing I find rather important is branding each photo since it is very easy to lift them. If someone does take them for their own use, hopefully my little logo will still be there in the corner so I can be found.

Some branding costs plenty of money. There are however plenty of people on Etsy who are very reasonable with their time. Hunt around to find someone who's work you like and ask all your questions up front so you both understand the details of the transaction. Keep in mind that designing your branding/logo takes plenty more time than you may be aware. I spent about 2 weeks on all my branding before I found what I wanted. Then again, I try to stick my logo on everything.

It's important to get what you want for your business. Do you just want a banner? Maybe you want a banner, avatar, stickers for boxes, special wrapping, custom paper and envelopes, logo business cards, and a file for everything so that you can use it for other items as well. Having an editable file with all the individual pieces will allow you to edit and add your logo (and special text) to things into the future as well.

Spend plenty of time thinking about what will show your best side. Do you have a certain product that people prefer and is more "loved" than another. Do certain colors or texts represent you better than others? Maybe you are unsure, that is fine too, test it out on your market. Show people samples and ask around. I always like to see a selection of 5 or so options and then choose my favorite. Make sure your logo and text shows well both big and small. The avatars on Etsy for example are tiny. Do you need to have things altered to suit each size that it will be presented in? While you are at it, do you want an ad made?

Keep in mind this is a long term investment and will not likely have instant results in the way of sales. Everything takes time to get results, this just gives you an extra notch in your ability to be recognised. That is worth plenty in the long run.

One of the funnest and silliest things that happened to brand itself for me was the TP. It's funny, it's universal, and makes people look twice. I personally love it when I get the "Hey, you are the TP lady!" Being known for something, even if it is TP, is a great thing. Note the little L in the lower right on the photo.
I tried to work with it too. If something starts to lead you, use it! People respond well to humor and fun. It makes me feel confortable around a seller if I know they are a little funny. A sense of humor is important in this business too.

I hope this gives you a little more information and helps you succeed in your online business!
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Licia is the founding member of the Awesome Chicks blog. Its her attempt to bring you information on what she has learned over the years. She has worked in retail for 15 years , selling anything from toilets and concrete, to home equity loans, and has been a member of Etsy since December 2007.

9 comments:

Katy said...

I can't preach this enough. I think people highly overlook this aspect of business building when really it is one of the most essential parts. There are so many great ways to do this now at affordable prices too. This is great information and I agree 100%! Thanks for sharing your insight.

Christine said...

Your TP branding photo is very clever, memorable and recognizable. Thanks for sharing your tips!

GrandmaMarilyns said...

Thank you for posting this topic to your blog. I have been trying to figure out what I want for my shop. By the way, I have always loved your TP earrings.

Joyce said...

AMEN!

FlyingButtons said...

Love your tp stuff, that's how I recognize you! Branding is a great topic. It can be over-thought or under-planned, but the most important thing about it is find what works for you and resonates with you. All the branding in the world is not going to work unless you feel it really says who and what you are! That's why the TP works so well for you-that touch of humor or quirkyness sets you apart from other jewelry sellers.

Kristin :)
http://www.HappyFlyingButtons.blogspot.com

Leah said...

Great article - I'm working on upgrading my branding stuff right now.

kaboogie said...

I actually BOUGHT a brand for myself for Christmas. A sizzler style, smelly burnt leather brand. My logo is only a jenkins typestyle, but it's becoming recognizable to people who know me, with the fuschia color. Your brand doesn't have to be complicated! Sometimes less is more....

{The Perfect Palette} said...

thanks for sharing.

Nancy said...

You learn something new everyday. I never thought about doing this, but it makes perfect sense. I probably have 3 or 4 different photos I use to identify myself, and it confuses even me!

Thanks for this article. I'm going to work on finding my "perfect brand."

Nancy