Creating a Brand Identity for the Creative Business
I know the thought of taking time from your product creation process to work on brand development seems like something you just don’t have the time for. Let’s face it, your product is your livelihood, and for a handmade business, if you take time away from making and listing products, you may slow down growth, right? Well, it doesn’t have to feel like a monstrous project you just don’t have time for. Proper branding of your business can actually allow for faster, more sustained business growth. Done right, it can actually be an enjoyable project doesn’t disrupt the management of your day to day business. Let’s get down to the basics.
What is a Brand Identity?
In its simplest form, it is the act of establishing what your business is about and what makes it special. Through formally establishing your brand identity, you will outline a strong recognizable brand experience; one the customer can expect to be consistent each time they interact with your brand.
The good news: Branding is creative. So, you are already great at creating; now you just need to funnel your proven creativity into a new activity.
Why do you need a formal Brand Identity?
Today, there are a mind boggling amount of brand & product options for consumers to choose from. So how do you stand out? You do this by being very clear about what you are as a brand, what you offer and what the consumer can expect each time they interact with your brand and product.
How do you create a Brand Identity?
There are two phases to the development of a Brand Identity.
Phase 1: Defining the essence of your brand:
- Define the target customer
- Define what your brand is and what it is not
- Develop a position statement
Phase 2: Developing your brand’s visual identity:
- Graphic Guidelines
- Product Naming Strategy
- Copy Tone
- On-product Branding
Today we will cover Phase 1. Next week we will cover Phase 2.
Since we are creatives, I have outlined a visual way to develop the components of Phase 1. This is done by creating a brand story board on which you collect & attach example images that help to tell the story (this can be a physical board or one created on your computer).
Define your target customer
While you want ‘everyone’ to purchase your products, it is beneficial to really think about exactly who you are targeting. This will allow you to tailor your product assortment and communication to this audience. If you already have an Etsy store, you likely have a good idea about who she/he is via past purchases. It is helpful to ask yourself questions like:
What is her general age range?
Is she tech savvy?
Is she concerned with health?
What type of fashion/style is she looking for?
What does she like to eat?
What activities does she participate in?
The more detail you pull together, the more she/he will come to life. Fill out the first section of the board by finding images and words that illustrate her characteristics. You may want to even give her a name.
Example: Michelle is a 25-35 year old married mom. She works full time, is tech savvy and uses media outlet often. Knowing where her products come from is very important to her. Her free time is focused primarily on family, but she does take some time to take care of herself, taking yoga, going to the gym and reading the occasional fashion magazine
What Your Brand Is and What Your Brand Isn’t
This exercise it is one that helps to define the specific properties of your brand. Fill each side of the board with images and words that illustrate the unique facets of your brand.
Do you use a really unique material?
Do you give a portion of your profits to a charity?
Do you create a romantic/quirky or historic story around each of your products?
Do you use a special technique?
Are you inspired by something very specific?
It is just as important to identify what your brand is not.
Example; if you are a seller of natural body products, your board may contain images that illustrate:
What It Is:
Good for you
Crafted with love
Packaged in recycled materials
What It Isn’t:
Filled with harmful chemicals
You get the idea. Have fun with it. When you have this portion of the project completed, it is exciting to stand back and see a very clear visual of what your brand is about.
Final Step: Your Brand’s Position Statement
Once you have completed the above exercises, now it is time to put together a concise statement of what your brand offers. This should ideally be one sentence. If someone asks you what you brand is about, this will be your reply.
Let’s use the natural body products example from above:
The XXXX Company strives to improve well-being and green practices by providing natural face and body care products are infused with emu oil and packaged in completely recyclable packaging to help you reduce your carbon footprint.
This example provides a clear message about what the company offers. Once you have created your position statement, add it to your brand story board in the bottom section. Now you have created a complete picture of what your brand is all about:
Next week, we will cover Phase 2: Creating the visual identity for your brand.