Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heidi's Tips & Tricks for 5/9/2012

This week's topic is all about Branding...

As consumers, branding is all around us.  Think about the brand images that you are flooded with on a daily basis and what some of them say to you.  Branding is everywhere, from big corporate labels like the red and yellow of McDonalds or the white and blue of Facebook.  For the small Etsy business, branding plays just as vital a role in helping to define your product and make you stand out as a professional.  This article will discuss some of the ways to help develop your brand, and how to use it effectively.

I suppose one of the first things to explore is where branding can be used.  Likely the first things that come to mind are your shop banner and avatar.  These are one of the first things that introduce customers to you and your products, and using them for effective branding is one of the first things you should do.  Your banner and avatar image represent you in the same way that a storefront does on a street.  You want it to be attractive, professional, and present an image of who you are and what you do to encourage-  shoppers to "come right in".  There are MANY way to approach this.  You can choose to present images of your most popular products, you can go with a graphic design in colors or patterns that are representative of your style, you can use simple lines and bold contrast if that suits your product line... there are SO many way to make this work for you and I will discuss some questions you can explore to help you discover what will be effective for you later on in this article.

You should use your banner and avatar in sinc with one another.  They don't need to share an image unless you want them to... but they should absolutely coordinate with one another.  I've chosen some examples for you to have a look at how these two important images can be used together to create an effective brand:

- Cute Crochet Creations ~ Andrea uses attractive graphic design with a simple whimsical feel to brand her shop and mirrors the two graphics with eachother.  This case illustrates how an avatar can be just as effective branding without words and as her crocheted designs are geared toward children it totally suits her product line to have the simple design and colors.

- Just 4U Wearables ~ Rosemarie uses her banner and avatar for branding in that she presents clearly the medium she works with... yarn... without too narrowly defining her target customer base since she makes a variety of items for all ages..

- Gretel Creations ~ Tami showcases her products in both her banner and her avatar, and the result is a clear picture of what she offers.  Her shop is also a great example of how a banner and avatar can ALSO mirror the look of the entire shop, thereby creating a seamless flow!

- CuttinUp Custom DieCut  ~ This shop uses a great example of simple contrast to brand their shop as well as present a crisp feel that is totally suited to their product line.

There are of course sometimes reason to have some variation in images and you need to find what works best for you.  If part of what you are selling is yourself, you might consider using your avatar with a good quality, professional photo of yourself such as if you are in graphic design or photography.  You can still use color schemes to coordinate and make this approach work for you! 

So, aside from banners and avatars, how else can you use branding to really stand out from the crowd?  Well... seriously, those two items are just the beginning!  You should also be mirroring your shop brand outside of Etsy!  Places you can and should consider doing that are on social media sites just as facebook, or blogs.  For example, my own shop uses the same basic avatar image for my Etsy shop, blogger avi, and my business facebook profile picture.  I also use the same color scheme and parts of my banner image in my FB timeline photo.  You don't have to have everything the same... but it is important to consider how you can coordinate because this will quickly become how people think of you and your shop.  

My Etsy Banner

My Facebook Cover Photo

In other media, you can also use this mirroring technique to ensure consistency.  Business cards, return address labels, product cards, packaging stickers, and email signatures can be used to further your brand recognition.  Using the same font for titles and a color scheme that flows can be a very simple way to get yourself recognized across a wide variety of marketing and advertising venues.

Okay, so time to shift gears a little bit.  HOW do you come up with a brand image you want to use for your shop?  There are professionals on Etsy that you can purchase "Branding packages" from and this can save you a lot of headache if you aren't graphic-savvy!  For a small investment, you can ensure that your shop is represented professionally if this is not one of your strengths.
If you are a DIY type, some of the things you should be thinking about are:
  • What sort of "feel" do you want for your shop?  If you  make things for little girls, you might want a very girly brand image with colors and designs suited toward girls.  If you make things for professionals, sleek and simple might be a way to go.  If you sell vintage, something that showcases your collection style be it rustic or country or whatever.  How do YOU feel about your products?  Whimsical, sophisticated, dreamy, fun, nurturing??
  • What sort of shops do you admire for what they've chosen to do with their brand?  It's important that you like and be proud of the image you are presenting of yourself and exploring other shops is a place that you can start gathering ideas and then use those ideas to come up with your own unique vision.
  • What will work for your product line?  If you are constantly changing what you make, you might not want to use actual product photos because it may too narrowly define you.  On the other hand, if you stick to a specific medium, one or two examples of your work might be just the right thing to draw in customers. 
  • Do you have something in your shop name or story that you would rather use to help brand your shop?  For example, my brand images have everything to do with what inspired my shop name, and the illustrated image rather than realism gets across a childish feel that is consistent with my products.
  • What is your target audience?  There is no reason to try to come up with a brand image to appeal to everyone if you have a narrow customer base.  If you make things for children, by all means you can choose to make a child-friendly brand... but you don't have to.  There is a lot of freedom for you... but knowing what might appeal to your target customer base is a good first step.
Branding is something that deserves some thought toward how to make it work for you.  Once you have established your brand image, it becomes "free advertising" in a sense because the more people come to see a consistent image from you, the more they will remember you.   Using consistent images in your shop, advertising, and packaging can really make you stand out as a professional and sets you apart from your competition.

:) Heidi


Andrea said...

I love it, branding is something that is very important! Thanks so much for the feature, and I want to give credit to, that is where I purchased my avatar and banner after spending too much time frustrated while trying to make my own! The price was very reasonable if you are thinking of going that direction! Thanks again, I love Etsy Mommies!

Ewa Kelly-Miksa said...

I have to work on some things :)