Thursday, February 3, 2011

Branding: It's All About Experience and Benefit

Last week I asked the question, “Are you ready to market yourself?” and laid out four areas for you to focus your attention and ask the question, “Am I putting my best foot forward?”

Over the next four weeks I want to dive a little deeper into each of those areas. So we’ll start with Branding.

To many branding is what large companies like Coca Cola and Nike do, but it’s just as important for an individual artist. Your brand is the experience you give your customers, it’s what sets you apart from your competitors. Your branding, notice the difference, are the tools that you use to convey this experience like your website, storefront, and packaging.

Why is this so important? It’s how people remember you, it’s what makes you stick in their mind, and it’s what makes them want to recommend you to friends.

The basics of branding is choosing a business name, logo and color scheme then carrying that over to a website, marketing materials and packaging. But it’s so much more than that. What experience do you want to give your customer? What is your mission or vision? Is that also carried through in all your branding?

Let me give you an example. If you own a shop that makes high-end bath products, soaps, bath salts, lotions, etc. The experience you might want to give you customer is one of luxury and special treatment. But if your website is hard to navigate and customer’s questions are only responded to once a week, that’s not very special or luxurious.

I’ll take it even a step further to say how you present yourself reflects on your brand. Most of you reading this are the ones who sell your own products either at fairs, trunk shows, or to your wholesale accounts. If you make fashion forward jewelry that you’re selling at trendy boutiques and at trunk shows in hip lounges, you better look the part. A slumpy t-shirt and running shoes won’t cut it, even if you’ve been up since 6am setting up your booth. I think you get my point.

It’s about the whole package. You need craft the first impression you give your customer through your website, store or fair booth. Then the customer needs to feel good purchasing the item, either because they’re doing something nice for themselves or someone else. And finally they need to be able to put on those earrings or use that soap months later and get that feeling all over again. The experience.

This may seem like a lot to think about, but I promise if you take the time to really define your brand you will stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Start by answering these few questions in as much detail as you can and then think about how you can carry that concept through into everything you do.

What Are the Benefits of Your brand? (List adjectives that best describe the benefits of your brand. What type of experience or feeling do you provide or what need do you fill?)

What Differentiates You From Your Competition? (What benefit or value do you provide that your competition doesn’t? What are you doing that no one else is? Why should customers choose your product/work over the competition?)

What Is Your Business Identity? (Loosely begin to think of your overall company identity – your logo, packaging, colors, stationary, etc. You want to create something that is not only instantly recognizable as “you”, but also has a feeling that goes with your product. People buy things because of the way it makes them feel – Is it a luxurious treat, good for the environment, or giving back to the community? Does it make them feel more hip, smart, or cutting edge? Consistency is key!)

What are the key benefits of your brand and how do you communicate them?

Here are links to the other articles in this series:

Are you ready to market yourself?

What Does Your Website Say About You?

Customer Service - Do You Know What Your Customers Experience?

Is Your Website Marketing For You?

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!


Jen (Mama's Magic Studio) said...

These questions are so helpful! I agree that it took a while for me to understand that "branding" for etsians and other handcraft folks is very different than what Pepsi et al might mean. Great point taht who we are (how we present ourselves) is really part of our brand when one is talking about handcrafted goods.

With my first Etsy shop I really limited myself and my brand -- "Baby Friendly Beads" nursing necklaces and breastfeeding reminder bracelets certainly has a niche appeal, but ultimately that "brand" was not workable for someone like me in the longterm. (Though it was quite consistent with who I was at the time that I created it! A nursing mom!)

My crafting and creative interests are all over the place (probably too much so!) and so when I first thought about recrafting my brand, back in 2008, I aimed for something much more general. And Mama's Magic Studio was born. I continue to contemplate these kinds of questions as I go further in my personal "branding journey." Thanks for some great ways to focus and contemplate improvements to our shops and our brands!

ReCultivation said...

This is something we are definitely tossing around. The questions are great. A very helpful article.
There are tons of vintage shops on Etsy and setting ourselves apart has been no easy task.

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