Cohesive and authentic branding for your maker business is one of the most powerful tools you can have for your business. Branding isn’t just a pretty logo and packaging. It should be meaningful to you and your business and part of your business strategy. Ideally, your brand will instantly communicate your business’s mission to potential customers and create trust. Having a well-developed brand gives you a professional boost and will increase trust and hopefully sales!
Branding can seem overwhelming especially if you’re a one-person show. Just remember that branding is a journey – it will adapt and evolve as you get more comfortable in your business and as your business goals change and grow. Start small and let it grow from there! I’ve outline 6 steps that will get you on your way to a great brand.
So let’s jump in…
STEP 1: SEPARATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR BUSINESS, THEN ADD BACK THE GOOD STUFF
Because makers are usually so connected to their business identity, it can be hard to see from an outsider’s perspective. Your brand may just feel like an extension of you that you immediately “get,” but to people who don’t know you, your business may not be communicating enough on its own.
Even though your business is separate from you, the biggest thing that differentiates your business is YOU. One of the reasons people buy handmade/local/small is for the personal touch of an actual person behind the product and company. So inject some of your key personality traits that also support your business goals.
Ask a few close friends to describe your business. What they like best about it, what it communicates to them, who they think the ideal customer is. Anything you want to know! Asking a close friend will give you the perfect balance of characteristics between you as a maker and your business. Keep notes of what they say and use it to develop your brand.
STEP 2: DEFINE YOUR “WHY” AND “WHO”
Getting a better picture of your business on paper will give you more confidence that the brand you create is aligned with your business goals. Answering the “why” and “who” lets you know why you’re in business and who your business is for. Ask yourself the questions below to get to your “why” and “who”!
Why: Why do you do what you do? What do you want to be known for? When you are veering off your path your why is a great motivator to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Who: Who is your ideal customer or client? Who is your business intended for? Is it for trendy moms that love buying handmade toys for their kids? You can go as far as making a profile of your ideal client including what magazines she reads, where she shops, her age, how many kids she has, etc.
For Tiny Curl, my “why” is to inspire and facilitate creative crochet fun and my “who” is crafty women interested in quirky design in a friendly package.
STEP 3: BRAND KEYWORDS
When someone looks at your brand, what do you want them to takeaway? Is your business all-natural, is it fun, is it modern? Look at the elements you gravitate toward in your work. Do you love bright and vibrant colors or neutrals? What materials do you use? What do you make? These can be great clues to discovering your brand’s essence.
Pick 3 words that you want people to get or feel when engaging with or looking at your brand and make sure that all of your brand elements embody the 3 words.
For Tiny Curl, my 3 brand keywords are Fun, Bright, Friendly.
STEP 4: IDENTIFY THE BRAND ELEMENTS YOU NEED
Brand elements are what communicates the 3 brand keywords you choose in the last exercise. Take a look at the list below and make a list of the elements you need for your business.
Brands are made up of:
- Visual elements (aka logo, packaging, font family, color palette, photography style, paper elements, website design, craft booth design, digital layout, online shop, merchandising, etc)
- Communication elements (aka tone of voice, taglines, marketing, promotions, etc)
STEP 5: GET DESIGNING!
Thinking of your “why” and “who” and 3 brand keywords, get to brainstorming and sketching! I recommend starting with a logo design and letting everything else stem from there. Even if you’re not a great drawer, you’ll get lots of ideas that will put you in a good direction.
To design the Tiny Curl logo and brand elements, I scanned my sketches into my computer and used Adobe Illustrator to vectorize and edit the designs. Using Illustrator makes your designs infinitely scalable, which is great if you need something big like a printed banner.
If you’re not confident in your digital design skills – there are many amazing graphic designers and branding pros that can get you started. At minimum you should have a logo, color palette, and font family. You can use those elements to design biz cards, flyers, and social media elements like thumbnails and cover photos!
STEP 6: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now that you have all of your branding elements, apply it everywhere! Social media channels, website, Etsy shop, craft table, anything that your business communicates through should be speaking the same brand language. Make sure all your channels communicate your business’ 3 brand keywords.