Branding for Craft Sellers
Welcome to Episode 5 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I will be talking about branding for craft sellers. I will explore what branding is and what areas of your business it can affect. I will also discuss how you can easily come up with your own branding guidelines, which can help you improve your branding – and more.
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Listen to the Branding for Craft Sellers Podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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Transcript of Episode 005
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number five, Branding for Craft Sellers
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
I often browse the forums on Etsy or other online craft selling venues and I regularly see the subject of branding being discussed. Often someone will announce “I don’t bother with branding, I let my quality products speak for themselves.” Of course, “not doing branding” is actually a form of branding in itself! You really can’t escape it. So that is why I will be talking about branding for craft sellers in this episode.
So what is branding for craft sellers?
Shopify defines branding as “All of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes.”
I like to think of branding as being your business’s personality. It describes what your shop and products are all about.
When asked what branding is, many new sellers will mention logos, shop headers and avatars. But branding covers much more than that. This can be a bit hard to grasp at first. Branding is kind of everything that someone can see to do with your business.
Think for a moment about a big brand, such as Coca-Cola. You can pick the bottle out from many others on the supermarket shelf by the red label with that white script font on it. You may also recognise the bottle shape. This is all branding.“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” Jeff BezosClick To Tweet
Branding can include colour schemes, logos, fonts, your favicon, your photos, styling choices, characters, your tagline, music, avatars, your social media, packaging, labelling, icons, models, marketing techniques and for big companies, sponsorships and the famous people who might be associated with it. Phew. You can see from that long list that the potentials for branding your business are huge.
You can’t escape branding because it is everywhere!
So what does branding do for your business?
1 – It gives you a recognisable identity.
Just as you can easily spot a bottle of Coca-Cola, or a McDonald’s restaurant or a pair of Nike trainers, having some sort of branding on your products, websites and marketing enables people to know it is you. It helps you stand out from the crowd.
2 – It helps people remember you.
Humans are very visual creatures. We tend to better remember images than words. Strong branding will stick in your visitors’ and customers’ minds. The next time they shop they will recognise you. When people recognise a brand, they can feel connected to it. This is why the big companies work so hard on having memorable branding.
3 – It describes your brand.
A customer is browsing many products, for example on a marketplace site like Etsy or Amazon Handmade. When deciding which products to look at, with a view to buying, they will make many quick decisions. If they are looking for, say, a very traditional type of product, such as a Victorian-style crocheted doily, they may instinctively avoid product pictures that have bright primary colours. Bright primary colours do not readily conjure up an image of classic Victorian style. So the visitor uses this as shorthand for “this is not the product I want, I will move on”.Good branding choices will strengthen the core message of who the product is targeted at. So when that target audience comes along, they are drawn to the item in question.
4 – It makes you look more professional.
When given the choice of similar products, people will often be drawn towards the one with the more professional looking branding. The simple fact is that good branding enhances the impression of the product itself.
Imagine for a moment two knitted hats. They are very similar and each is made with love, care and skill. One has a cute little hand-stamped tag hanging from it, with the maker’s name and website address. There are washing instructions on the back of the tag. The other hat just has a price tag hanging from it.I think you will agree that the first hat will appear to be the more professional. Perhaps, the fact that the seller has gone to the extra trouble of creating and adding a nice hang tag implies they take more pride in their work than the other seller. Or maybe one might get the impression that the second seller is not taking their business as seriously.
Whatever the reason, studies have shown that branding really can affect whether something sells. And, for we craft sellers, that is an important fact.
So how does a craft seller create great branding?
Let’s start by thinking about your niche. Grab a piece of paper and write down the name of your business at the top of the page. If you sell in multiple niches you may want to do this for each niche.
Now start to add adjectives that describe aspects of your business.. So, for example, let’s imagine I am starting a shop that will sell traditional styles of wedding jewellery. Lots of pearls and silver and gold. Some words that would probably come to mind would be “classic”, “traditional”, “timeless”, “elegant”, “formal”.
Now think about words and phrases that you associate with the niche. So in this example, I might include “white wedding”, “mother of the bride”, “bridal”, “wedding dress”, “bridesmaid”, “church wedding”, “flowers”.
Next, add a list of colours your associate with the niche. For our classic wedding niche, I would put “white”, “cream”, “ivory”, “silver”, “gold”, “pastel colours” I am thinking of the wedding flowers there.
Now add a list of things, objects, that are associated with your niche, such as “lace”, “flowers”, “rings”, “bells”, “horseshoes” and so on.
This is brainstorming. Don’t worry about trying to organise these thoughts yet. For now, you are just getting them down on paper. Ask friends or family members to suggest more words and phrases for you.
You can also include what you actually sell, so “earrings”, “necklaces”, “bracelets” and “tiaras” might get added to our imaginary page.
Looking at your brain-dump you will hopefully begin to see some branding ideas popping out at you.
For this classic wedding jewellery website or online shop, I would go with lots of white and silver. I would not be including bright primary colours or dark areas. And I might include images of lace or soft-coloured bridal flowers. I would definitely be aiming for pages that gave the impression of “classical” or “elegant”.
I can use my list to help me with a logo, and a business name. Here I have some useful niche-related ideas and words I can incorporate.
My list will also help me write product descriptions. The bases of many strong keyphrases are right there. “classic wedding necklace”, “bridesmaid earrings”, “ivory bridal tiara”.
This list will help me create branding guidelines for my business.
What should I include in my branding guidelines?
Some of the branding elements that you can include are:
Pick one, two or maybe three to be your “corporate colours”. I use a specific shade of purple for Tin Teddy. You will see this purple on my website, my Etsy store, social media accounts and on the pictures I use to advertise my digital products. My Craft Llama crafting community website has its own shade of teal. This is used throughout the site, on business cards. merchandise and so on. Coca-Cola uses a particular shade of red, with white, for its iconic branding. But I suspect they did a lot more, expensive, research to come up with that colour combination than I did!
Colours can have particular associations. You may want to look further into this before deciding on your own corporate colours. There is a somewhat divided opinion among experts on whether there really is a psychological effect from some colours or colour combinations, or whether it is more of a social association. There certainly have been many studies that show that brands are more successful if their colour choices match what their target markets perceive as suitable colours for the niche.
Let’s imagine you are selling, say, baby bibs and blankets. It is very likely that people would expect your website to use soft pastel colours, ginghams and polka dots. Or many bright primary colours, red, blue and yellow. A website that was all black and silver would seem rather out of place for baby products, wouldn’t it?
Usually just one or two. Pick fonts that match the style of your products. Perhaps pick one “every day” font for main use and a fancy script type font to go with it, for titles and emphasis. For blog articles and other larger chunks of writing, be sure to use a font that is easy to read. This is when basic fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman and Cambria come into their own. Be sure that any fancy fonts are still readable. This should always be the priority.
One general rule of thumb is to use serif fonts for niches where you want to emphasise tradition, classical, formal or old-fashioned values. Serif fonts are the ones with those little lines across the ends of the letter strokes. And use sans-serif fonts, ones without those little lines, for brands where values such as modern, clean, simple or contemporary are important to you.
A logo is handy in many areas of your business. It is a like a pictorial signature for your brand that can represent it in many circumstances. My Tin Teddy logo is a square, in my “corporate” purple, with a white silhouette teddy “photobombing” into it, and the words “Tin Teddy” underneath. This logo is quite simple and is still very recognisable at smaller scales. I remove the writing if I need to use a very small version. It also is still clear in black and white.
You can use a stylised logo like this, or you might prefer a picture of one of your products. There is lots of great info on line about logos, and I particularly recommend the book “Logo Design Love” which is great for anyone planning on creating their own logo. I used this book for reference when designing my own logos. I will put links to this in the show notes (at the bottom of the page).
There are many sources for having a logo created for you. There are some very talented logo creators on Etsy, for example. I personally recommend Umlaut Graphics who is a highly qualified, experienced logo creator. Again, I will include a link in the show notes to her Etsy store – Umlaut Graphics on Etsy.
As you will probably be using your logo in many locations and for a long time, it is worth getting one that really compliments your brand and looks great.
The way you set up and take your product shots and other photos is another part of your branding. A lady I know takes all her product pictures, of ceramic bowls, in her beautiful greenhouse. There are plants in the background, out of focus so they don’t distract from the product. Her pictures stand out in a crowd. Sellers of modern silver jewellery often use white backgrounds for their pictures or even a mirror for a clean reflection. And a friend who sells adorable vintage-style teddy bears includes Victorian and Edwardian props in her shots. Think teddies in old prams or leaning on piles of leather-bound books.
You will probably want some of your product photos to be very clean and clear. This helps to ensure your potential customers can see exactly what they will get. This is why so many craft sellers go for a simple white background. But for your lifestyle picture, that is the pictures of your products in use, or in a scene, you can be much more imaginative. This is a great way to strengthen your branding by finding a consistent style that compliments your niche. I will talk more about product photography in a later podcast episode.
If you post on forums you will need an avatar. This is a small picture that represents you – and your business. You could use your logo, or may prefer a picture of yourself, or a product. I have seen craft sellers who use a popular cartoon character, or movie logo as their avatar. This is really rather a bad idea. Those characters, logos etc are trademarked. The owner almost certainly will not approve of your using it in association with your own business. Unless you have their permission to use it, of course. Besides, you are trying to promote YOUR business, not someone else’s. So stick to a logo or picture that really represents you and your brand.
A favicon is the tiny picture that shows up next to your website name in the tabs at the top of a web browser. Favicons are also used by mobile apps. Taking the time to design a favicon that matches your brand is a simple way to make your website look that little bit more professional.
Some elements of your branding may not be as immediately obvious. For example, the way you word your product listings. A person selling high-priced precious jewellery may use quite formal language in their listings. “These elegant earrings will accentuate your outfit.” Or “White Cliff Jewels recommends pairing this sophisticated lariat with a dark coloured dress suit to complete a soignée ensemble”.
Someone selling skater-themed t-shirts may prefer to use very casual language, including skater slang. I am not going to try to say some skater slang, just in case you were waiting to have a laugh at my attempts!
The way you write the listing and the choice of words used should reflect the potential reader.
Ideally one should stick to this style throughout. So if you use a formal style in your listings, this is the same type of writing that should be on your website, your blog and your social media posts as well as in any communication you have with customers. Being consistent strengthens the message that the writing style is giving.The way you describe your products is an powerful part of branding for craft sellers.Click To Tweet
And branding can also be the overall look and feel of your company. It can include things such as how you conduct your business and deal with customers. Many big companies use this overall branding feel.
For example American fast-food restaurant chain, Wendy’s, have become very well known for their witty, sarcastic and sometimes quite barbed comments about other restaurant brands. Their fans love this, although I am sure some people might dislike it. A branding concept like this can be a bit of a gamble as to whether you will gain lots of new fans, or possibly lose some.
Another example of divisive branding is British yeast extract company, Marmite. They are famous for their marketing campaigns where they claim that everyone either loves Marmite or hates it. No one is on the fence. Saying that people hate your brand is brave! But it seems to work for Marmite.
Think about computing giants, Apple. They are very well-known for their clean, sleek, minimalist branding. They use this style everywhere. In adverts, their shops, packaging and even the products themselves.
Or how about one of the most famous of all brands, Disney. Disney emphasises that their movies are “timeless classics”. That their films and parks are family friendly and wholesome. You will see a lot of references to “magic” and “fun”. Disney takes their overall corporate image very seriously because they want the very word, Disney, to conjure up positive images about their brand.
Where do I use all this branding?
You should aim for consistent branding everywhere that people can see anything to do with your business.
Once you have created a branding style for your business, you can utilise it again and again. Having consistent branding generates the most benefit.
For online marketplaces such as Etsy and Folksy, or shops using Shopify, Wix etc, your branding will be in shop headers, avatars, logos and your policies. Each listing will also be shaped by your writing style choices. The look of your photos will be another powerful way to brand your shop. Many successful sellers have consistent looking pictures which gives their shop a very professional look. You may not be able to change fonts or site colours with these sorts of shops.
On your own standalone website, you can really benefit from whatever branding decisions you have made. Here you can choose the fonts, colours and overall look that you want. Keep your branding style guide near to hand to remind you.
You can utilize your branding guidelines on social media . Most craft sellers use one or more social networks to market their products or blog articles. If your visitors immediately recognise your social media accounts as belonging to your brand it builds trust. Plus the consistent branding helps you look professional.
You may want to use it in your business emails. Many email clients allow you to add a header image to your emails, or a signature. Think about some of the emails you receive from big companies that you deal with. Here you can find ideas of ways to add a bit of branding to your own emails and newsletters.
Good branding is really significant for your packaging.
A few years ago I bought a beautiful pendant with a hand-painted animal on it. I told the seller that I was going to give it as a gift. When it arrived it was just as lovely as I had expected… but… it was just wrapped in some bubble wrap and sent in a padded envelope. Yes, it got to me safely, but there was no branding of any sort included. I had expected this (quite expensive) necklace to come in a box. I also assumed there would be a tag or a card included that said something about it being hand painted and who the artist was. There was nothing at all. The necklace was totally anonymous. I ended up making a small box for it and writing up a “Handpainted by X” card myself. I wanted the recipient to know this was a special item!
The lack of any branding seemed to imply that the artist didn’t want to be associated with their product. For anyone selling arts or crafts, it is important that you always remember one of your biggest Unique Selling Points – that is that the product is made by YOU. This is not some mass-produced thing. This is special. And so having branding on your packaging, and indeed the product can really add to the perceived value of the item.
Good branding for craft sellers adds value to your products.
You don’t need to do a lot to do this, either! A ceramic bowl can have a stamp on the bottom or a sticky label. A collector’s doll can have a simple hang-tag. A necklace can come in a box with your shop name on the front (perhaps stamped or again, a sticker). A knitted sweater can have a tag sewn in with your brand name on it. And so on. Think about your branding guidelines and come up with something that fits. You do not need to invest a lot of time or money into this, you can keep it simple.
A word of warning. There is a lot of debate over whether you should include any branding on the outside of packaging that is going through the mail. Many big brands, such as Amazon, usually do clearly brand their packaging. Personally, I would avoid putting on anything that might indicate that the product inside is very valuable. So if your brand name includes the word “jewellery”, you might want to leave it off. You could put your own name for the return address to avoid it all together. You will need to balance whether you think that a bit of extra promotion is worth a potential increase in the risk of mail theft. I have bought many things from craft sellers and whether they brand their packaging is about 50/50.
Don’t forget that you can utilise your branding guidelines on your packaging even if you aren’t going to add logos etc.
Summary of branding for craft sellers
Although most of us craft sellers have quite small businesses we can still all benefit from thinking about our branding. It needn’t be an expensive or complicated thing to do, but it can have multiple positive effects. Think about the branding of companies that you like to do business with. What messages are they giving out with it? What messages would you like people to get about your own business? Is your branding giving those messages?
A full transcript of Branding for Craft Sellers, links to all the sites mentioned, and additional information is in the Show Notes on the Tin Teddy blog.
In the next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 6, I will be talking about 6 Pages Your Craft Seller Blog Must Have. This episode will be out on 26 June 2018.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson and Matthew French
Original music by Matthew French
For more info, hints and tips, check out episode 22 of the Craft Seller Succcess Podcast, Packaging Your Craft Products.
I recommend UmlautGraphics on Etsy for your professional branding needs.
Here are links to the book mentioned in the Branding for Craft Sellers podcast – LoveDesignLogo, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase from one of these links I will receive a small commission for sending a customer to Amazon. At no extra cost to yourself, of course. Thank you.