Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Branding 101

Hey y'all, 
What a busy year! Phew!  Now that I've got a little more time on my hands, I wanted to share some tips and tricks for making you, your brand, and your booth stand out from the rest. For info about creating the perfect booth check out this previous post.

Today we're talking about BRANDING.  Ugh.  What a horrible word.  I know it scares me sometimes, and it can be super scary.  It's one of those things that creative types, me included, often leave until too late and then get stressed about.  I'm here to tell you there's nothing to stress about. Branding can be fun!

When I started my business in 2013, I chose my favourite colours, taupe, vintage white and coral, to represent my brand.

My sign and decor for my table had coral accents against burlap and white. But for last year, I was kind of over the coral.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the colour, but was it really working for my brand?  I liked the white and burlap-they're great neutrals that can work with ANY accent, AND didn't clash with my colourful scarves.  But the bigger question I was really asking was "what is my brand"?  And am I doing a good job of getting that across to my market/fans/clients etc?

So I looked around online and did some brainstorming.  That's tip #1-BRAINSTORM.  And I mean in the most literal way possible.  It's hard to think of flashy one liners that describe your brand straight off the bat.  One of the best techniques to find what your brand (and you) stands for is create a word cloud (or list). List EVERY SINGLE WORD that describes you, what you make, and what you believe in.  
See my word cloud (right).

Use these words (2-3 per sentence) to come up with a tag line, that best represents your brand.  From these words I have some great descriptive sentences I can use on market applications, Facebook posts, websites, twitter, etc without having to come up with something new every time.
West Coast Leslie features handmade & local products
Handmade, with colourful yarns, these products are truly inspired
This wearable art comes in various designs, colours, and sizes.

You'll also notice in my word cloud I have a few words that describe me and what I stand for in my business; like service, quality, & fun.  Once you've come up with maybe five lines, save them to a word document so you can grab them anytime.   Also take a couple of sentences and work them into a paragraph about you and your business.  Have a 5 sentence paragraph that can be used on applications etc.  
This is one of my business bios I use.  

It feels a bit like writing an essay for University, but you want to be clear.  Make sure you include what you make, how you make it, and why it's awesome!

Tip #2 You don't have to marry your brand.  What?!? I know, I said it.  Yes, it is important for you to have consistency with your brand, but let's say you've had your logo for 5 years and over those years your business has changed, morphed, grown.  Then shouldn't your brand also change to reflect your business?  Think about the clothes you loved in high school (for me it was surf/skate logo tees and flared jeans! YIKES), you would never wear those clothes now.  Likewise with your brand-it should reflect your business.  This isn't a license to change up your logo every year!!! That is confusing for your clients and does not encourage brand loyalty.  But if you feel that your brand/logo/colour scheme doesn't reflect your business anymore, it's OK to change it. There's nothing worse than having a name that doesn't tell people what you're about.  You'll spend all your time explaining it instead of talking about your products and selling them!

Tip #3 Consistency.  Right just after I finished telling you you can change your branding! Ha ha ha.  What I mean by consistency is look at how you are represented online and in person.  If you look at my Facebook page, my website, my online store-they look like they're part of the same family.  I've used the same header, in the same colours, with the same fonts and logo. No one is going to wonder if they're in the right place, especially when moving from one online entity to another.   And while for us creative types, it might be a bit boring to have the same colours, font, etc it's NOT boring for our customers.  It's reinforcing that they are in the right place, you are a trusted source, and yes they want to buy from this maker!  Consistency is also why I would recommend simple graphics and fonts, so that you're not going crazy with images on every online platform!  And don't forget to use these online images in print too.  Hang tags, pricing signs, postcards, business cards.  Everything that represents you and your brand should be thematic.  I changed my tags to better reflect my brand this year and I love it - plus it makes my life SO MUCH EASIER.  

By doing this you're again reinforcing in your customers mind that you've got it all together (even though sometimes we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off!)

Do have other branding tips?  
Share them with us in the comments below!

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