I was pleased to be approached by the folks at Etsy’s new Wholesale marketplace to provide some thoughts about branding. As part of Etsy’s mission to help designers (who want to) scale their businesses, they run a series of educational pieces for their members. Here is the entire text of the piece, for the curious (you should have seen it before I edited it – I just can’t keep myself under control! Luckily, the editors at Etsy are great at paring things down to the essentials). – Arianne
Branding Your Company
We know that designers and independent business owners often have to wear ALL of the hats, and I’d like to share some tips on what to keep in mind when branding.
What does “branding” mean, anyway?
You can think of your brand as the personality of your business. What does your business offer your customer that no other business can? Your brand should speak directly to your target customer, making you THE only choice for them. There are hundreds of options when someone decides to buy a cup of coffee – why are so many people at Starbucks? Branding.
To create a brand for your business, you don’t start with the logo. You start by brainstorming what’s unique about what you do, and putting together a description of your business’ personality which highlights why a customer will want to choose you over others. Once you know what your business is about, you’ll have an effective starting point for making sure your products, your logo, your marketing materials, and your advertising all make sense with your brand identity.
What branding pitfalls should designers and crafters avoid?
- Not having an identity at all! Focus and distill what you do down to one niche, then be sure what you show the world reflects that identity.
- Trying to do it all yourself. To grow your business, you will at some point have to quit doing absolutely every task that comes up. Sticking to what you do best (creating your products) and leaving the graphic design to the professionals will save you time and grief.
- Using questionable methods to purchase a logo, such as “design contest” type websites, sites promising “cheap logos,” or “create your own logo” websites. You’re almost guaranteed to get something slapdash that doesn’t address your goals and uses graphics that aren’t unique to you.
What qualities will a professional logo have?
A good logo will be:
- Simple: a single idea that is clear and easy to recognize and describe.
- Memorable and distinctive: something your customers will recognize the next time they see it, and that isn’t similar to others in your industry.
- Versatile: your logo should be effective in tiny and huge sizes, in black and white, as a social media avatar, on the web, in print, embroidered on tags… the list goes on!
- Relevant and appropriate: your logo should make sense for the type of business you are. For instance, ‘playful’ works for a children’s toy maker, but doesn’t for a law firm.
- Timeless: trends are fine when designing seasonal product lines or putting together advertising, but you want your logo to stand the test of time.
What tips would you give for successful visual branding?
- Keep everything cohesive and consistent. Don’t use one font for your business name on Etsy, another on your blog, and yet another on your packaging. Choose a set of fonts, colors, and graphics to be used on all of your marketing materials, and make sure your design choices reflect your brand.
- Make it polished. Etsy is loved for its DIY spirit, but the most successful Etsy sellers package their products professionally. To interest retail and wholesale buyers alike, you need to look trustworthy and stable, and if your labels and tags look too “homemade,” it can be a turn-off.
- Feel confident about your brand! When it’s all pulled together, it’s much easier to approach stores, blogs, and magazines and expect to receive a positive response.
Please contact me if we can help with your brand!
A version of this interview was posted on the Etsy Wholesale blog. I’ve really been enjoying their vendor spotlight articles and wholesale tips, so check it out if you haven’t yet!