How to build a strong brand identity for your craft business
Creating a brand identity is about more than just having a good logo. Think about the brands (or designers) you admire. The reasons you’re drawn to them are probably because of their ethos, what you associate them with and how they communicate with you. The most successful brands understand who they are and why they do what they do – and they are good at telling people. So how can you get it right?
1. Know who you are
Before you jump to fonts and colour schemes, you need to go right back to the beginning. Who are you? What is it that motivates you? Is it is a perfectionist’s obsession with the small details? Is it a love of illustration that stems from the books you read as a child? Is it the craft of turning plain old mud into a beautiful ceramic object? Is it a mix of all of these things?
Understanding why you do what you do will help you define your brand – and as no one else will have exactly the same mix of inspiration, values and ideas, forming a strong identity around yours will help you stand out.
Why you make, rather than what you make, is the most important part of your brand; everything else can change over time (your products, your packaging, even your logo), but your core identity should always remain the same. This TED talk by Simon Sinek explains why understanding your ‘why’ is essential for a strong, successful brand.
2. Choose the right name
You want to get this one right because changing your business name down the lines brings lots of headaches, like confused customers, broken links and defunct business cards.
The most obvious place to start when thinking about what to call your brand is your own name. If you are the person designing and making it all, why not highlight that with an eponymous brand name? If using your name doesn’t feel right, think about what you want your brand to say and play with different words that represent that. Once you’ve come up with a few options, let them mull around in your head for a while and see which one sticks. Write them down in different fonts to see if one reads or looks better. Ask your friends what they think. If your name comprises more than one word, write it out with no spaces, replacing any symbols with letters (eg ‘and’ rather than ‘&’) to make sure it works and doesn’t end up spelling anything rude or unseemly when it’s viewed as a URL or Twitter handle!
While you’re deciding on a name, Google it to check you won’t be sharing it with someone else, and that it won’t get lost among thousands of similar search results. Also see if the various social media handles are available, because it’s best if you can use the same name across all social networks as that makes you easier to find. Whatever you go with, make it memorable and avoid long or tricky-to-spell names.
Top tip: As soon as you have chosen your brand name, register it all on all social media platforms so you know it’s yours.
3. Create a tagline
A tagline is a simple way of defining your brand in just a few words – although they’re not always simple to come up with! For example, Brighton-based printmakers Ali and Jam, aka helloDODO, use the tagline ‘playful printmaking’, which perfectly sums up what they do. Try to come up with a short, succinct tagline you can use for your online shop, business cards and social media profile, that instantly tells people what your brand is about. Thinking about the taglines other businesses use, like ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, ‘Think Different’ and ‘Just Do It’, and how those relate to the brand’s values can help you develop a strong tagline for your own brand.
Top tip: You can add a tagline to your Folksy shop in the ‘Shop Appearance’ section on your seller dashboard.
4. Define your voice
One of the best ways to express your identity is through your voice: how you speak to customers in emails and on social media, but also in less obvious places like product descriptions and packaging. It’s sometimes hard to know what your voice should be, so it can be useful to compile a list of adjectives that describe your brand – things like imaginative, knowledgeable, witty, light-hearted. Keep these qualities in mind when you’re communicating with people, so your tone of voice reflects your brand.
The same goes for the type of content you put out on social media. If your brand is playful, have fun with your posts – link to silly things you’ve found on the web, or, if you’re brave, use your incredibly pithy wit to your advantage. If your brand centres around perfecting the small details, talk about your obsession, document it with macro images and share other products also made with incredible skill.
Look at how other brands talk to their customers on social media and on their packaging. Innocent is a great example of a brand with a strong voice that is consistent with their brand. This post on Innocent’s Facebook page sums up their voice: “As it’s Penguin Awareness Day, we just wanted to make it absolutely clear that we’ve never put any penguin in our products, and we never will. You might find a bit of zebra though. Wait, hang on, that’s a barcode. No need to panic.”
5. Be consistent
Once you’ve got your core values, tagline and voice, use them to create a clear, consistent identity. Design a logo that encapsulates your brand, pick an appropriate colour palette you can use across your branding, including in your packaging (so if your brand is playful, subtle greys might not be the way to go) and style your product shots so they express your core identity at a glance (classic jewellery might work best in a simple setting, for example, whereas theatrical jewellery might lend itself to a more dramatic backdrop). Get all those things to tie together and you’ll start to see a clear brand identity forming.
A strong brand identity comes from knowing who you are, being different from the rest, and projecting your core values in everything you do.
Case Study: Becky Pearce
Becky Pearce makes contemporary jewellery from her studio in the Surrey Hills. She has been making things for as long as she can remember, but since discovering jewellery it has turned into a bit of an obsession. We asked Becky to share her tips for building a strong brand identity.
✓ Thinking about your brand identity early on in your business can really help steer you. Do the research, get input from friends and family, make sure you are aware of the message you want to give with your brand and work on conveying the right message from the very beginning.
✓ Finding the perfect name for your business can be incredibly tricky, but it’s such a huge part of your brand identity it pays to get it right from the start. I’ve learned from experience that once you’ve started building up your business, changing it can be a real pain. I know people who have spelled their name wrong when setting up their shop and then felt they had to stick with it! Check and double check everything first.
✓ Keep your name and profile picture consistent across all the social media platforms you use. This makes it so much easier for your followers to find (and support) you.
✓ Photos are so important when it comes selling online. Take some time to experiment with lighting, background and props to reflect your brand. Once you have your perfect set-up, stick with it to ensure your photos are consistent and recognisable. This will also save you lots of time.
✓ Whether your packaging is colourful and fun or classic and elegant, these finishing touches can reinforce the brand identity you project to your customers. I tie a bow around my gift boxes using ribbon that matches the colours in my photo background.