Developing a Brand for a Jeweler: Cajun Heritage Collection

Developing a jewelry brand: Cajun Heritage thank you cards

You may have heard us say (once or twice) that growing your brand can be like the awkward teenage phase of a business. That’s because we’re hard pressed to find a more apt metaphor. When you’re a young brand, identity crises can abound. Who are you? What is your purpose in this world? What do you have to say, and how will you stand out as you say it?

Though we’re still trying to crack the code on how to get actual teenagers through this phase, we’re experts at guiding businesses through it. So when jeweler Lindsey Baudoin came to us for help developing her new jewelry brand, we were thrilled to see her off on a fresh start. Though she’d spent the past 6 months designing her collection and taking crash courses on how to run a business, Lindsey quickly learned that there was too much important work at this stage for her to simply “wing it.” Lindsey knew her Louisiana heritage played a role in shaping her jewelry’s aesthetic and goals, but she wasn’t sure how it fit into the greater purpose of her brand:

“I have really struggled with designing my logo, figuring out what my story is, finding my brand identity, and designing my e-commerce site. I think Aeolidia could be the answer to all of my struggles!”

Developing a jewelry brand: Cajun Heritage logo stickers

Cajun Heritage business cards for a jewelry brand

Emphasis on the “figuring out what my story is.” After all, before creating a logo, a brand identity, or writing a word of copy, every business needs to know what they’re all about, deep down at their core. Thankfully, we have a resident business soul searcher—Caroline, our marketing expert—who worked with Lindsey to excavate her brand’s true purpose. Together, they defined the essential elements of Cajun Heritage Collection, such as its target customer,  its key differentiators, and its unique selling proposition. They created a mission statement that succinctly and proudly touched upon the brand’s manifesto and the emotional experience it creates. With this newly-discovered brand story, our team now had a frame of reference for everything that came next in Lindsey’s project—from the copy on her website to her logo and print work. We began planting seeds of her story on her home page:

A style so personal it reminds you of home.
Inspired by our southern Louisiana roots, Cajun Heritage Collection is a celebration of how we’re all connected: vibrant and unique gems coming together to create a beautiful whole. We hope our handcrafted pieces inspire you to embrace your unique culture—and those all around you—wherever life may take you.

Then, inspired by the brand’s bohemian-rustic style, Jess created a visual identity that captured the spirit of Cajun Heritage Collection in a way that’s classically nostalgic but also modern vintage.

Brand board for a jewelry designer. Developing a brand for a jeweler, by Aeolidia.

Lindsey’s Experience

Having her brand’s story come alive organically through words and design helped Lindsey realize her brand’s true identity. Rather than discovering it as she went, Lindsey could now proudly own her messaging and visuals with confidence and purpose.

“I first discovered Aeolidia while listening to a podcast that had a guest speaker, Arianne Foulks. I visited Aeolidia.com as soon as the podcast was over, and I just knew that they were going to be the answer to my current struggle—defining my brand identity and designing my logo.

I particularly loved the fact that Aeolidia only worked with makers. I also loved how they were so organized. They had every stage and step of my project scheduled before we even began. Their professionalism and organization was very comforting and reassuring. My initial consultation over the phone with Samantha gave me the clarity and piece of mind that I needed. I knew I needed help if I wanted to grow my business, and I knew I would be in good hands if I worked with Aeolidia.

Sam did an amazing job being the glue that held my entire project together. The marketing consultation with Caroline was invaluable. She helped me define my ideal customer and established our mission statement. She unknowingly came up with my business tagline; something that was not planned but I am so grateful for. Natalia wrote the most amazing copy for my About Page. I still get excited and re-energized every time I read it! Her copy gave meaning and emotion to my brand. One of my project goals was that I wanted my customers to connect with my brand and be inspired after they visited my website. Thanks to Natalia, I think we have accomplished that goal.

My designer, Jess, was truly magical. She delivered exactly what I envisioned, and then some! She just ‘got’ me from the very beginning. It was like she took everything I pictured in my head, and was able to make it a reality. She was reassuring when I was hesitant during the design phase. She graciously accommodated every request that I made. I really appreciated how she designed with my ideal customer in mind. She not only gave life to my brand, she inspired me to grow my business far beyond what I imaged. She helped me envision my brand on a much larger scale.

I am so much more confident in my brand thanks to the design work and guidance I received from Aeolidia! I feel more equipped to communicate who I am as a business and now have the confidence to reach out to editors and potential wholesale accounts in my field. Aeolidia is definitely the dream team that I was looking for. Thanks to them, I not only feel professional, I also LOOK professional.

I am so grateful for all the time and energy put into my project by the entire Aeolidia team. I truly appreciate everything they have done for me and my new business! I could not be happier with the final results and the overall branding experience! Everyone was so encouraging, excellent communicators, and delivered beyond my expectations! I can’t wait to work with them on future projects. To any business that needs help establishing their brand identity or logo: I would highly recommend Aeolidia! It is 100% worth the investment, and I promise you will not be disappointed!”

Could you use this kind of help?

Are you stumbling through a brand identity crisis? We got this. Contact us for help discovering your brand’s true self.

See this project in our portfolio.

Shop Cajun Heritage.

Announcing New Shopify Features – Unite Conference Recap

Shopify Unite conference

In our Facebook group for online shop owners, we often see newer members asking if Shopify is worth the price, or if they should just stick with Squarespace or Wix or some other software. This tells me that people just don’t get what exactly Shopify is offering, because the difference between Shopify and these programs is enormous.

The benefits of using Shopify aren’t equalled by any other software. And that’s even more true now that they unveiled the new Shopify features they’ve been working on for you lately!

We just returned from the Shopify partner conference in San Francisco, and we’re feeling excited about what Shopify has announced. Some of it is ready to go now and some is coming soon. I took notes on the features our clients are always interested in, and Shoshanna, one of our web developers, took notes on what our team can do on the back end to make your sites even more powerful.

Here is a quick overview of the news:

New sales channels

One of the coolest things about Shopify is that you aren’t just stuck selling your stuff on your own site. You can also set your shop up to sell your products directly on other platforms, such as Facebook,  Pinterest, Wanelo, Houzz, and more. They just announced that they’ve added more new channels, including one of our favorites: Instagram!

Learn more: Find New Customers Faster with Shopify Sales Channels

New chip and swipe reader

This thing supports chips, fits in your pocket, and uses Bluetooth. You can order it right now! It’s free for new POS customers, and $29 otherwise. It looks pretty beautiful, too.

Learn more: Meet the New Chip & Swipe Reader for Shopify POS

Accelerate checkout with Shopify Pay

This was one of the things that impressed me the most. The Shopify team showed us that their checkout performs much better on mobile than average. But with this big change, I think you’ll see a big conversion rate boost on mobile.

If your online shop is like most, your mobile shoppers have either surpassed your desktop shoppers in number, or they’re about to. But it’s hard to shop on mobile! So many bits of info to type in and maybe you’re swinging from a bus strap or you have a toddler chewing on your leg.

I’ve made a few purchases recently using Apple Pay and I loved how easy it was. Shopify Pay is going to do the same thing for your mobile shoppers. They can save their info once (via a “remember me?” checkbox) on ANY Shopify website, and then when they visit you, Shopify will have remembered their info, turning something like 16 fields to fill out into just two. I can’t wait to see how this takes off.

Learn more: Accelerate Checkout With Shopify Pay

Selling wholesale on Shopify

First, it appears that Shopify have solved online wholesale for their Shopify Plus customers. This is their enterprise-level platform, and wholesale is so important to many of our clients that I think they would be able to consider the cost of Shopify Plus as a worthwhile investment to grow the wholesale branch of their business.

If your business is not at that level, things are still looking bright for you, because there have been a whole bunch of APIs that Shopify has worked on and is giving developers access to: Order Fulfillment, and Draft Orders, in particular. That means that the somewhat hacky wholesale apps that exist today may soon be replaced with more robust apps that will do more of what you want them to do. We’re keeping our eye on that!

Learn more (Plus only): Introducing Wholesale: Your Next High Growth Sales Channel

Everything in the lounge was for sale with a QR code from Shopify stores!

Everything in the lounge at the conference was for sale with a QR code from Shopify stores!

What else?

We also heard a lot of interesting stuff about improvements to inventory tracking, a new admin design that’s going to let you instantly share new products to social and track your marketing conversion better, improvements to checkout, and to flash sales.

Learn more: Everything We Announced at Unite 2017 (And What It Means For Merchants)

Ready to make the switch?

If Shopify is starting to sound like the right place for you, I’d love to talk with you more about your business’s particular needs, the details of moving your site to Shopify, and how we can help. Please do get in touch so we can get your site up to date and selling more efficiently.

Like to give it a try yourself? Sign up for a free trial of Shopify here. That’s Aeolidia’s affiliate link (and then if you’d like, let me know you did, and if you could use any help with next steps).

Stunning Product Photography For Online Shops

I just had to stop and take a moment to share the latest photography for online shops from Jen Lacey on our team. She has been doing incredible work that is making our clients’ products SHINE! Even the best-designed custom Shopify site will suffer without amazing product photography.

Here’s what we’ve been working on:

Indigo Ember

Patricia creates laser cut wooden products, and her new brand, website, and jaw-dropping photography will make a huge difference to her online sales. Take a peek!

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Indigo Ember hero photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie

Robyn’s custom jewelry designs are perfect for celebrating family members. We also worked on a trio of photos that show the customization options and the additional charms that can be ordered with the jewelry.

Love, Georgie Father's Day photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie Father’s Day photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie Mother's Day photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie Mother’s Day photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie customization example photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Love, Georgie customization example photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Handcrafted HoneyBee

The Handcrafted HoneyBee team are always bursting with ideas, and this time they were looking for an amazing hero shot for their deodorants, so they could promote them better to wholesale stockists:

Handcrafted HoneyBee deodorant photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Handcrafted HoneyBee deodorant photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less

Jen took more than 80 completely different photos for Living Well Spending Less, all using different props and styling. The hero shots below feature the planner styled for different purposes and seasons.

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Living Well Spending Less planner hero shot © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Mafu

We designed this brand and the product packaging, then coordinated with Jen to shoot some stellar product photography and packaging shots for this skincare brand.

Mafu oils photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Mafu oils photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Mafu skincare photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Mafu skincare photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Swanky Press

Elizabeth is working on improving her online presence, and photography was an important first step! Along with these photos with a baby and toddler, Jen also created a set of styled card and mug photos using white blanks that Elizabeth can easily add her graphics to.

Swanky Press blanket photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Swanky Press blanket photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Swanky Press calendar photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

Swanky Press calendar photo © Jen Lacey for Aeolidia

What can we help you with?

When you’re working on your online shop, there really isn’t any area that I’d recommend skimping on. Everything is so important in hooking your potential customer and drawing them further in to your site. Their reaction to your brand and website will be subconscious, which means you have less than a second to help them decide whether they’re interested or not.

Photography is a huge way to tell your story, create interest, and get your visitor imagining their products in their life. Jen styles and shoots photos for our clients – hero shots, still lifes, tabletop scenes, model photography, products on white backgrounds, and will even create your own better-than-stock photography which you can use to drop your designs onto cards, mugs, totes, and more.

Contact us today to ask about photography for your shop.

How to Set Up Google Analytics For Shopify: Painless Basics

Why should you do pay attention to your website analytics? Here's how and why to set up Google Analytics for Shopify.

Do you keep an eye on your website statistics, and make plans based on what you learn? At Aeolidia, we start every website redesign by looking at the current stats: we see how much traffic the site is getting, where it’s coming from, if it’s on desktop or a phone, what pages the visitors are most interested in, how the site in general is converting, and where customers may be dropping out.

This gives us great direction for redesigning the site to have the most impact for the people who are actually using it. And it gives us an idea of what marketing/SEO strategies are working, and where the business could use a better strategy.

I’ve been mildly horrified a few times this past year when a client didn’t have Google Analytics set up to track their stats. Shopify provides some stats, but nowhere near the level that Google does. So much uncaptured data! It makes my head whirl.

So I would urge you to do these three things right away:

1) Set up Google Analytics for your site

If you don’t have Google Analytics set up to track your stats, get that set up! It’s free and it’s powerful. Even if you set it up and then don’t look at it for two years, maybe some day someone like me will come along and want to take a peek and then be able to make targeted changes to your site based on real information about your real shoppers. It’s great to have that historical data there to compare against and learn from.

Here are Google’s instructions on getting set up

If you’re on Shopify, double check these things

2) Enable ecommerce goals on Google Analytics

If you have Google Analytics set up, but aren’t tracking your ecommerce goals, do that next. Knowing where traffic comes from is nice, but without the money piece there, it’s hard to make decisions. Maybe you get a ton of traffic from Google and just a bit of traffic from Facebook, but the Facebook traffic makes you more money. That’s info you need to know!

Turn on ecommerce tracking through Shopify

If you’re using different ecommerce software, first check their documentation to see if they have information on how to set up ecommerce tracking. If they don’t, you can always set up goals manually (this is how I do it, since I don’t have a shop):

Setting up goals to track conversion rate/dollar value

3) Plan and schedule which reports you’ll look at

Pick a few basic bits of information that you’d like to know, and make an appointment with yourself to check on those things on a regular basis (maybe once a month or once a quarter?). If you don’t know where to start, I’d suggest:

a) conversion rate – what percentage of visitors converted into paying customers?
b) top revenue generating traffic sources
c) how paid ads are performing

Why should you do pay attention to your website analytics?

With the right information, you can decide where to focus your social media efforts, where it’s worth paying for advertising, and what types of features and collaborations you should aim for. Comparing your conversion rate to the past months, quarters, or years will let you gauge the health of your site and figure out when it’s time for a redesign (hint: if your website is converting poorly for shoppers on mobile devices, it’s LONG past time).

Next steps:

Ready to dig into stats? Here’s a good start: Finally learn how to analyze your social media stats

Want to get to know us a bit better before hiring us to strategically redesign your online shop based on real data? Our newsletter is the perfect place. I’ll explain it all bit by bit over a few weeks, right to your email:

join the aeolidia club

Subscribe Here

Behind the Scenes: Designing a Strong and Timeless Logo

Gift and housewares logo design

Whether you’re launching a new brand or redesigning for an existing one, a timeless logo is essential for creating a strong identity that’ll grow and propel your business for years to come. When you have to reassess and restart, this kind of work is not a step back, but rather, a huge step forward.

Samantha Leung of Handmade Sam Made came to us at a point in her business when she was ready for her visual identity to be realized to its full potential. Her line of brass geometric mobiles and wall sconces—inspired by traditional Finnish himmeli—had such a distinctly modern, minimalist style that it was easy for us to imagine her business evolving into a brand that encompassed not only an aesthetic, but a lifestyle. This would help position her brand as a leader in her industry, while also making the evolution of her product offerings, from air plants to plant-inspired enamel pins, a more seamless transition.

Sounds like a lot of big changes, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes, the true artistry of a redesign lies in knowing the difference between what to change, what to keep, and what to enhance.

hemleva-planter

Photo © Samantha Leung

hemleva-plant-pins

Photo © Samantha Leung

hemleva-wall-sconce

Photo © Samantha Leung

hemleva05

Photo © Samantha Leung

Transforming a strong brand foundation into a timeless logo design

When Samantha came to us, she’d already built an incredibly strong foundation for her brand. She was doing a stellar job of knowing what her brand’s style was, who her customer was, and her Instagram account (with its gorgeous photography) was driving much of her sales.

What was lacking were a name and logo that tied all these elements of her brand together in a way that was as beautifully cohesive as her products. The messaging, style, and vision were all there—they just needed to be brought to life. As our designer, Jess, got to work on the visual identity for the newly-named Hemleva, Arianne compared our creative approach to that of building a new “home” for it to live and thrive in:

“Samantha, I think of your work like the framing of a house. All the 2x4s and plywood are up in the shape of the house, and now it’s our job to add the design details. We might add decorative molding and beautiful windows or even a little tower, but we’re not going to tear down any of the work you did and change the configuration ‘just because.’ We definitely don’t want to change what you’ve already built, because your foundation is so strong.”

Before & after: how refining your brand sets you up for success

Hemleva before and after rebranding with Aeolidia

Hemleva before and after rebranding with Aeolidia

Sometimes a brand requires a complete makeover. Sometimes, it simply needs to have its true identity be brought out in a way that feels natural and timeless. Hemleva already had so many brand elements “playing well together” that our job was to tease them out and make them shine. Jess’s designs were meant to be ones that Sam and anyone familiar with her brand would recognize and think, “OF COURSE that’s what it should look like. That’s what’s always been there, just scratching the surface.”

This reframing and refining of a brand makes it that much stronger. We wanted to set up Hemleva to take charge of its identity with strong, iconic visuals that would make it easier for the brand to stand out as the original leader in its class. The long-term goal behind Hemleva’s timeless redesign was to convert it to greater memorability in customer’s minds, a more commanding presence in retail stores, and overall success for Hemleva that will stay true to Sam’s aesthetic for years, no matter how her product offerings evolve over time.

Gift and housewares logo design brand board Stamp/seal design

View the Hemleva project in our portfolio »

Visit the Hemleva site » (new look/name coming soon)

Do you have a strong, inspired brand that simply needs to be propelled to greatness?

Contact us about realizing its fullest potential.

Workshops & Events in California in April

Aeolidia workshop in California

Quick news update!

Aeolidia is going to be in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Ventura this month. Here’s where you can find us:

Shopify Unite

April 20-21, 2017
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California
unite.shopify.com

Arianne and Shoshanna will be attending to learn more about the future of ecommerce.

Make Your Website Smarter workshop

April 26, 2017, 7pm – 9pm $25
@ the pARTy Gallery 5522 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90018
creativethursday.com

 

Do you have a creative business that sells products? This workshop is for you if you’re either planning to set up an online shop, or you have a shop site that could use some improvement. The Aeolidia team will be sharing guidance about how to set up a shop, what content to include, and how to organize what goes on it.

The evening will begin with a presentation about website content, website design, and what you’ll need to see success online. Topics may include:

  • What pages should be on your website?
  • What content do you need to gather for a website?
  • What kind of photography should you have?
  • What software should you use?
  • Where do you buy your domain name?
  • How do you get people to visit your site?
  • How do you get people to purchase?
  • What about blogging and newsletters?

We’ll cover all this and more, as well as answer questions about your specific website. We will break into groups, and solve each other’s problems and make plans for your personal best next step.

We can help with:

  • Getting set up on Shopify
  • Choosing and adjusting design themes
  • Feedback on your existing website
  • Answering questions about design and strategy
  • Suggesting quick changes to improve sales

Please feel free to bring your laptop for some hands on learning.

REGISTER NOW

Craftcation

April 27-30, 2017
Ventura Beach Marriott in Ventura, California
dearhandmadelife.com

Arianne will be teaching two classes and she and Shoshanna will be giving one-on-one advice and feedback to attendees via Think Tanks and office hours. This event is sold out.

Benny + Lou: Starting a Baby Clothing Store with the Right First Steps

Primary logo for a children's brand

We love working with baby businesses as they get their big starts—and we mean baby both literally and figuratively, from young, new businesses to those like Benny + Lou, a baby clothing store that came to us right at its infancy for business branding and visual identity work.

Founder Marissa Cornetta, who named the online boutique after her grandparents, envisioned it being a retail destination for stylish, comfortable pieces made by small brands with high quality fabric. Her taste for classic, sophisticated looks with a playful, darling twist really drove the project’s creative direction, from the copy we developed for her home page to the business stationery and unboxing experience that Jess on our team designed once she finalized Benny + Lou’s logo.

Working with a design team like ours to create a visual identity when your brand is just a newborn definitely has its perks. Whereas many businesses often stumble and learn from their branding mishaps along the way, with Marissa we were able to apply our decades’ worth of design experience to her new boutique. She got to skip the growing pains, and we got to bring her vision to life.

Inspired by the child-like sophistication so prevalent in Marissa’s approach, Jess created a logo that paired a simple sans-serif font with a scripted type, showcasing the uniqueness of each element but also how beautifully they go together, like children. She also introduced an illustration of three leaves to be part of the Benny + Lou branding: “The 3 leaves remind me of little kids of different ages with their individual heights and personalities.”

print design for a children's brand muslin bag design for a children's brand Brand board and logo design by Aeolidia for Benny + Lou. A logo and brand identity design for an online children's clothing boutique with a classic, yet playful style.

Meanwhile, I got to work on copy for the Benny + Lou site. Though the home page would be very minimalist with not a lot of copy, these few words play a big role in introducing customers to the brand and inspiring them to explore the site’s offerings. In the case of Benny + Lou, the home page copy served as a kind of manifesto or mission statement—elements of the home copy ended up becoming central to brand’s messaging, popping up in places like Benny + Lou’s Thank You card and Facebook page:

The sweetest little things for the sweetest little ones.

In developing the Benny + Lou style guide, Jess wanted to exude luxury along with childlike approachability, two qualities that were underscored by choices like a watercolor version of the logo, which gave it a wonderful sense of depth and individuality. The color palettes of dusty blue, dark navy, light tan, and pale pink added a sophisticated twist to the more traditional pastel children’s colors. They’re soft, cozy and calming. These would become the guiding principles for the collateral we created for Benny + Lou, which included business stationery, unboxing experience, shopping bag/gift wrap, social media graphics, and newsletter graphics.

card design for a children's brand

Early on in the project, Marissa had expressed to us the design styles that best describe her vision for Benny + Lou—they included brands like William Sonoma home, Club Monaco, and Serena & Lily. Jess noted how all are different but have a sense of simplicity in common: “So many are simple, but unique and well executed.” By designing Benny + Lou’s logo to be flexible in how it can be used, it became easier to bring in the graphic elements and patterns that we paired with her branding. “Plus,” added Jess, “I believe the refined simplicity will stand the test of time, and mold better with your business as you grow and perhaps diversify your offerings.”

View this project in our portfolio »

Ready to take your brand’s first baby steps with us?

Contact us about developing the right visual identity for your store!

How to Be Bold About Promoting Your Business

Our favorite practical, actionable advice for promoting your business online and driving targeted traffic to your online shop.

“We fail far more often by timidity than by over-daring.”
―David Grayson

If you feel confused about how to get more people to visit your site, if it’s hard to get attention on social media, if you’re not sure where out there your customers are… guess what? You need to go out and get these people yourself. Here are three of my favorite articles (all from the Shopify blog) about how exactly you do that.

Hacking the Press: Clever Ways to Get Free Press Coverage with Zero Budget

We’re going to look at some of the most clever ways you can get any influencer or journalist’s attention—even in a crowded space—so you can get more traffic and sales for your business.

The Single Best Way to Get Traction for Your Ecommerce Startup

If you are brand new to running an ecommerce business and think that “doing light SEO, social, or ads” is going to be a path to overnight success… stop what you are doing and read this closely.

How Two Friends Turned Up The Heat and Sold $170k Worth of Spicy Honey in 10 Months

Our first efforts included emailing our personal contact lists and posting to our personal Facebook pages (asking for feedback is much easier than asking for sales) which led to our first $1,000 in sales.

Knowing that press begets press, we made a list of potential press targets and our possible connections to these targets, and then Casey aggressively pursued any and every lead.

RIGHT? This is good stuff. It makes me despair when I see people with a great product getting no attention. Each of these articles point out that you really need to go out there and get attention yourself. You can’t just set up shop in your living room (like my first grader did earlier this year) and expect a stream of customers knocking down your door. It sounds ridiculous, right? But that is what I see so many people doing, and wondering why it’s not working. Go out and get that press you need!

What daring things are you planning for your business next? Hiring an employee? Going to your first trade show? Investing in a custom website? Pitching your products to bloggers?

These are things that should be a matter of course for a healthy business. If any of them make you feel timid, I hope you’ll get out there and make things happen for your biz in 2017!

Want me to point you to more of my best finds? Our newsletter is where it’s at:

join the aeolidia club

Subscribe Here

Aeolidia is Hiring Brand and Web Designers

Aeolidia-hiring-designers

Aeolidia is a web and graphic design studio that works exclusively for creative businesses with a penchant for design. Whether it be brick and mortar shops who curate collections by independent designers, or the independent designers themselves, we know how to create a successful ecommerce experience, and have been doing so for over a decade.

We are seeking freelance web designers or small design studios to join our busy team. We are looking for friendly people who would welcome doing their best work collaboratively with the remote (but never distant) team at Aeolidia.

Our process is almost certainly quite different than what you do with your own clients. It will take some practice to shape your process to match what we demand for our clients – come ready to learn and stretch out of your comfort zone, and we will support you every step of the way.

Is this you, or someone you know? We are a demanding, exacting group, and are pretty much incapable of doing less than our best. You should be, too.

You should be:

  • A web designer with solid ecommerce design experience.
  • A brand identity designer with experience in product packaging design.
  • Accustomed to being an authoritative and enthusiastic guide to your own clients.
  • Able to express yourself clearly and cheerfully to clients over email and phone.
  • Punctual to an extreme.
  • Excited to keep growing and learning best practices and new technologies.
  • A champion of creative, design-oriented businesses.

You should know:

  • What makes a memorable, distinctive, and effective brand identity.
  • How to design a strategic, user-friendly, high-converting ecommerce experience.
  • Best responsive design practices and strategy.

You can:

  • Live and work from anywhere in the world.
  • Have your own design methods, tools, and techniques.
  • Set your own schedule (as long as you hit our milestones).
  • Continue freelance work with your own clients as you work with us.

What we do:

  • Design brands that sell and are meant to last.
  • Design custom ecommerce sites from scratch.

We are looking for friendly people who would welcome doing their best work cooperatively with the remote (but never distant) team at Aeolidia. This is a 1099 contractor position, 20+ hours a week.

If you are interested

Wonderful! We’d be so glad to hear from you. Please fill out the form by clicking the button below. If you have a question for us first, you may email jobs at aeolidia.com.

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6 Ways to Protect Your Business From Competitors

Here is how to outsmart competitors and copycats. 6 ways to build a strong foundation to outlast trends and keep growing.

Today we’re talking about how to protect your business from competitors and copycats. We have received web design inquiries from over 400 businesses since the start of the year, most of them trying to figure out how to make their business work and sell more products. Often, I look at what they’re selling and how they’re presenting it and have an, “oh, this is going to be SO hard” sympathy cringe.

Other times, I get a thrill of excitement about a business’s products, brand, story, and potential. Maybe the website is boring or sloppy, but the foundation of the brand shines through, like a rough gem ready to be chipped out of the rock surrounding it. It’s a thrill and an honor to polish and set these gems.

Aeolidia doesn’t make these businesses work. They’re going to work anyway. We help them reach their potential.

What is your business’s potential? Here are six ways you can build a solid business foundation that will keep you competitive through the years.

1) Understand your business’s “why”

Your business’s potential relies on the foundation of your brand. All efforts to improve your business will be easier or harder depending on how well the foundational work has been done.

Your brand isn’t your logo.

Your brand is made up of all the things that make your business different, that people can use to identify it. The voice, the values, the personality, the purpose.

Rather than asking, “what makes us different?” ask, “what difference can we make?”
Read more: Focusing on a Different Kind of Difference

Instead of asking, “what do my customers want?,” ask, “why have I started this business?”
Watch more: Start With Why TED talk

2) Create a unique business

You need to find something that your customers can see as a meaningful difference between you and your very closest competitor.

If people can buy what you sell from anyone, how are you going to convince them to buy from you? Without your own unique value, you’ll be in a race to the bottom on price.

There are so many people out there selling so many things that it can seem next to impossible to distinguish yourself. If you want your business to last (and keep growing and growing year after year), put in the work early in your timeline to build this foundation..

Remember there’s no “more unique” or “less unique” or “unique enough”—something is either unique (one of a kind) or it’s not. And it needs to be capable of continuing to be unique.

3) Design a business that’s hard to imitate

If your product is easy to design and manufacture, you’re going to spend all your time trying to stay ahead of copycats. What are some ways you could make it hard for others to copy you and take away your singularity?

A common business model is funny sayings printed on basic mugs using available fonts. This is common because it’s easy. Since it’s easy, guess how quickly someone can do exactly what you’re doing, reach more people than you can, improve on your product, and sell it more cheaply?

What if you created your own ceramics? Imagined your own sayings? Hand lettered them in your own style? Or came up with an entirely new idea that isn’t in such a saturated market?

If it feels easy to jump into a business venture, step back and see if it’s too easy. Could anyone do it? Is this an area that you’re going to have a hard time distinguishing yourself in?

What can you do in your own way that you don’t see in the market today? How can you be inimitable?

4) Make something people will miss

Finally, while it’s easy to create something unique (fire hydrant cozies? stilts for dogs?), it’s important that your unique product is something that people will want. Will people miss you when you’re gone? Or could you leave your market without creating a ripple?

This is about finding a hole in the market, that once you fill, people can’t imagine having to do without. You want to create something unique that people really want–either an improvement on an existing product, or something people have been doing without until you came along.

If you’re one of many selling the exact same thing, it won’t matter if your business exists or doesn’t. People will still be able to purchase. But if you sell something they can’t get anywhere else, you’ve set yourself up for success. What unique and valuable spin could you put on what you sell, who you sell to, the style of your product, or how you sell it?

5) Move quickly to market

If you come up with an amazing product or business idea but don’t move fast enough or can’t produce enough of it or reach a large enough audience, somebody can realize your business vision and leave you in the dust. Trust me, if you find a unique idea that people want, you will quickly be up against copycat businesses.

How will you compete against businesses with financial backing and cheap factories in China?

To be known as the first, you first have to be known. If you have something good, don’t sit on it. Put all of your resources into creating the product, marketing, and establishing your brand, so you can capture as much of the market as you can before competitors move in. At least when they do, you can legitimately call yourself, “The Original.”

6) Continue to innovate

Being the first, even at something that becomes trendy, is still valuable. It can boost your business into the spotlight, and give you a burst of popularity. But you can’t rest on your laurels, you need to keep creating. When your flagship product takes over the world and becomes old news, what will you make next? Trying to best competing businesses without innovating is hard.

Keep your business in the habit of creating and experimenting. Use your resources during good times to be preparing for your next big thing. You don’t want to be stuck trying to invent new products too late, when your business is suffering.

How to prepare your business

Here is what you need to have a hope of growing a thriving business:

  1. A solid understanding of who exactly your product is for. If it’s meant for everyone, it’s special to no one.
    Read more: How to Identify and Attract Your Dream Customer
  2. A deep understanding of your brand’s distinguishing characteristics. If you can’t tell why people should choose you over another, your customers don’t know, either.
    Read more: Make Marketing Easy With a Unique Selling Proposition
  3. An inimitable process, method, or style. So your success isn’t immediately usurped by others who can do it quicker, better, or louder.
    Read more: How to Deal With Copyright Infringement

Pinpoint your three closest competitors and find (or create) differentiating factors between you and them. Next, take these unique selling point(s) and consider how easily they can be imitated, and what steps you could take to protect them. Now that you know what’s special about you, figure out how to show your customers, rather than telling them.

Easy to say, not so easy to do, I know. I’d love to chat with you about your business more, if you have any questions.

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This was originally sent (in a shorter form) to my newsletter subscribers. I talk about this kind of thing all the time! If you’d like to join our subscriber list and be invited to our Facebook community, please sign up here.

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