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!
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.

Featured Chick: Happy Cloud Moments

Joyce from Germantown, MD joined the Awesome Chicks in January of this year and has been a energetic member ever since. Her Etsy store is called happycloudmoments which she began mid December 2008. It's obvious by her fantastic photos that she is a quick learner. Following is her interview:

Do you have a day job, if so what do you do? I am a software engineer and I specialize in web application development and user interface. It is really not as boring as it sounds :)

How did you discover Etsy? I was looking at new web application technology and stumbled upon Etsy.

How did you begin creating? It was preschool and we were going finger painting. It was just so much fun that I never stopped creating. Though for a while, the only creating I did was "software design".

Why do you enjoy creating? Why do I like yellow? I just do :) It makes me feel good.

What do you sell? Dazzling Swarovski and sterling silver jewelry. I plan mix it up with some cubic zirconia and czech glass soon.

Where is your studio space? Right now, it's the dining room table whenever we are not eating there.

How long does it take you to create a piece? Ranges from 10 minutes to 4 hours.

When do you do most of your creating? Weekends and late nights. My mind just works better when the stars and the moon are shining on me.

What is your most popular item in your shop? I am guessing my Nautilus earrings. Sold a pair on etsy and few pairs locally.

Any tips or advice you can give others who are new to Etsy?
Join the Awesome Chicks of Etsy! (is that sucking up? >.< ) Just get involved in the community. There's so much good information and inspiration here.

What do you do to promote your shop?
Participate in chatrooms and forums, facebook, flickr, and bribing my friends with free jewelry to spread the word.

What is your favorite part of being a member of Etsy? Etsy just has so much that I am interested in. The community is great and there are so much creativity and inspiration here. Also, Etsy is a very well designed website which appeals to my geeky side.

How do you balance your business work with creating and home life? I just sleep less now and stopped playing video games. I also prioritize everything now. What's more important? Software
deployment deadline or promoting (chatting in chat rooms) or having dinner with family. It's so hard to discipline myself, but I think I am getting better at it.

Any organization tips? I love making lists! I also love my Snap 'N' Stack containers. Have all my Swarovskis in one stack and metals in another. I also use gerber 1st foods containers to separate
my beads by color.

What inspires you? Life.

Do you have any favorite Etsy shops other than your own? Too many to list here.

What are some future goals that you have pertaining to your Etsy business? I am averaging about 1 sale per week. I am hoping to get that up to 2 per week by April. and 4 by August. That's as far as I can think about right now.

Joyce is the one with the cute little doggie in the scrolling chicks photos to the right. :) Aw, how cute!

I know you have a bright idea...

So, leave a comment as to what you are interested in seeing!

We have already blogged about some great finds, how to find how they found you with Google Analytics and alerts, how to advertise with Project Wonderful for pennies (or no pennies) a day, my best stab at the easiest Google Analytics tutorial I could muster, and a note about how to "work it" with that online salesmanship. If you look closely you can find my photography tutorial as well.

I know there are other burning questions on your minds, let me know what they are and I'll see what the team can do for ya.

It's almost craft fair season, so the group is getting information together for an article. It's our first group article! Yay!

There has been a little interest in a summer challenge. Did we like the Spring Chick Challenge? Ideas for a Summer Challenge (and what to call it) are welcome in your comments to this post!

Thanks for following our progress everyone! Happy Spring!