Branding for beginners

Branding isn’t just for big businesses – creating a look for your fledgling company is all about being yourself.

When you think about your favourite makers, you can guarantee you’re able to pick their products out from a crowd. The best handmade businesses always have a strong brand, so you know one of their makes the moment you see it. Branding is often mistaken as simply the logo or the look of a business, but it’s so much more, and you, as the maker, are at the heart of it.

Be yourself

The first thing to do, recommends Patricia van den Akker, is to work out what you stand for and who your dream clients are.
“A good starting point is ask yourself, ‘What do I want to be known for? What do I want people to feel when they see, touch or buy my work? What do I want my products to say?’” says Patricia. “Take a look at other brands aiming for a similar target market and see how they communicate their values and attract clients. You can learn a lot from this research, but don’t steal! It’s crucial to create a brand that’s uniquely you.”
Once you’ve decided on your direction, creating a matching look is key. Even the colours you use to tie everything together need to say something. For example, autumnal colours are great for organic, sustainable brands, while light, bright colours can create a youthful appearance.
“My branding has evolved over the years, but one of the most helpful things I did was create a moodboard to pin down who we are. This gives you direction,” advises designer and founder of Pygmy Cloud, Diana Stainton.

Pretty as a picture

Good photographs can make or break a business as they act as your storefront. If you’re not handy with a camera, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Working out your photographic style is vital,” advises Diana, who also styles and shoots products for other designer makers. “One product can be styled and photographed in many ways, so work out your brand identity before a shoot. It will determine how you style and light your product images.”

Keep it together

Even your packaging can make a difference when it comes to customers coming back for more, from the washi tape you pick to pack your products to popping in a postcard to say thank you. Small,
on-brand touches will give you a professional look.
“My packaging only uses a selection of my eight key colours and my website and social media are the same to keep a consistent look,” says designer Laura Clempson. “Even our studio is branded, right down to the sofa cushions. Customers don’t see it, but it helps me stay focused, and makes taking photos for social media easy!”
Once you’ve checked out the competition to make sure you have an original take, it’s time to look at your own stock. If you have something that doesn’t quite fit with the aesthetic of your other products, don’t be afraid to ditch it.
“I have some fairly strict brand values and, if an idea doesn’t fit with those, it’s gone,” adds Laura. “I’d rather keep the brand strong than add products just because I like them!”

Embrace evolution

We all change over time and, if your company evolves, don’t be afraid to give yourself an image overhaul. It can be scary to start again, but a new look can lead to new customers.
Bespoke Verse founder, Joanna Miller, rebranded after four years in business. “My rebrand took over a year, and I had plenty of help,” she says. “There’s been no confusion or negative responses to the changes, which have been quite drastic. In fact, it’s helped clarify what we do. I’ve gained new stockists and more interest on social media. It may have been a lot of hard work, but having a good brand is worth its weight in gold.”

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Mollie Makes issue 69 printThis article was originally featured in Mollie Makes 69. Buy a back issue or download it from ZinioGoogle Play or Apple Newsstand.

Words: Karen Dunn
Illustration: Mark McConnell

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