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How to build a strong brand

When you’re an independent designer and maker, having a strong brand can help you get seen, find the right audience for your work and grow your sales. Here’s how you can create a strong identity for yourself and your online shop… 

It’s fair to say that the most successful makers on Folksy are those with a strong brand. They have spent time creating a clear image of who they are, making it easier for potential buyers to get a sense of who they’re buying from. We make decisions every day about which brands we trust, which brands appeal to us and who we want to buy from. Think about your last trip to the supermarket – why did you choose one brand of breakfast cereal over another? It’s the same when people buy handmade, and it’s your job as a maker to help potential buyers make the decision to buy from you. We’ve scoured Folksy, looking at those who are doing it right so we can bring you our top tips for creating a successful brand.

Who are you?

That’s the first question to ask yourself. It’s far easier to create a brand that’s in line with your own likes than to create a brand that ultimately isn’t you. Think about your image, your collection and your audience. Do you make high-end bridal jewellery or quirky illustrated pieces? Do you appeal to mature vintage lovers or a younger more fashion-conscious crowd.

You may find you don’t have a clear, easily definable collection. That in itself can make it difficult to create a brand image that potential buyers understand. Think about creating pieces that work well as a collection, see Sally Ayling and Claire Gent for inspiration. Both these makers creates pieces around a theme, meaning their work is undeniably theirs. You can spot a Sally Ayling piece a mile off.

Sally Ayling jewellery, Bird necklace, handmade jewellery uk, bird jewellery uk, tips on building a brand, how to build a brand, designers, makersBluethroat necklace by Sally Ayling

Spend some time with a pen, a pad of paper and a pot of tea, and work out who you are. That will give you invaluable information and the first step to creating your brand and getting it right!


Your brand identity

So, you’ve got a clear idea of who you are, who you’re making for and what ‘type’ of collection you’re making. The next step is to create a strong identity: an image for your company that is easily recognisable and can be used across all media. Points to consider are:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Try searching for your company name on the internet. Does it bring up 50 other companies with the same name or similar? It’s absolutely worth choosing a name that can be found easily (and that doesn’t take up too many characters on social networks!). Keep it short, simple and easy to remember.

  • Logo. Part of creating a clear brand image is to develop a logo that can be used across print and digital media. If designing a logo isn’t your bag, ask around and find someone who can help you out (maybe in return for a piece of your work?). Your logo needs to be simple, versatile and most importantly to appeal to your audience – refer to your research!

  • Your voice. Love it or loath it, social media is a great way to get your work out there. But think carefully about your ‘voice’ when talking to your community. It should reflect your brand and once again, appeal to your audience. If you’re a comedy genius, let that show in your tweets. If you’re a little kooky, let your Facebook updates reflect your individuality. Keep it natural, friendly and interesting and you can’t go far wrong!

  • Packaging. Business cards, packaging and stationery are also part of your identity. You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on this. Wrapping your parcels with a ribbon that’s the same colour as your logo is one simple way to keep your brand image consistent.

Make a gorgeous shop

Don’t forget your shop! You can’t very well create a lovely, coherent brand, and then have your online shop looking like a jumble sale. Booking a day to do all your photography in one go is a great way to give your online shop that unified feel. Grab your work, a few props and find a well-lit space, then spend the day getting great pics of your work. As you add more pieces to your line, use the same space and props as you did in your initial shoot.

(Featured image: Edge of the Woods brooch by Claire Gent)

For more advice, see our Seller Tips posts

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Sue July 5, 2014 - 5:39 pm

Thank you. You make it sound so early. I’ll hang on in there.

Claire Palfreyman July 28, 2014 - 2:00 pm

Your advice is sound and easy to follow. I will be revamping my Folksy shop using your tips. Thanks

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