Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Branding Your Handcrafted Product Part 1 What is a Brand?

Are you ready to take your hobby a step further, and turn it into a profitable business? If so, you're going to need a brand.

What is a brand? How do you brand yourself?

1. A brand is not a logo, it's a feeling. It's a part of who you are, a reflection of your personality. It's how a customer will think of you when they hear your name.

For a long time, I tried to figure out what jewelry products were popular so that I could create something that would sell. I never copied anyone's work, but I would look through magazines for inspiration and create something with a little bit of "me" in it. I couldn't figure out why I hated working on those types of designs. More importantly, I couldn't figure out why they didn't sell. Creating a handcrafted, sellable product requires giving some thought to who you are. So, how do you do that?

2. Is there something that excites you when you create it? Handcrafted products are personal. You can get an idea of what your brand is when you are working on something you are excited about and can't wait to see the finished product. That excitement will be reflected in your listing description and appeal to that customer who will connect with you and your product.

3. Be original, and true to yourself.

In order to figure out your brand, you have to know who you are. It sounds easy, but it's not. I know this about myself: I'm free-spirited. I never quite "fit the mold" and I'm not afraid to be myself. That was easy, but figuring out my brand took some time. I'm lucky to have a local beadstore that carries a huge selection of beads and gemstones. The owner has been excited about beads since he was a child and travels all over the world to purchase inventory for his store. When looking for supplies, the items that appeal to me are the highly unusual gemstones. A unique shape, unusual colors, etc. practically jump off the wall and into my cart. Because of this, I have a connection with the owner. We share the same excitement when he gets something new and unusual. Although most of his sales will always come from common supplies, he enjoys my visits. He now sets the unusual, bold, and often "one of a kind" strands aside for me. He enjoys showing me these unusual stones as much as I enjoy buying them.

4. Your business name should be a sneak preview to your brand.

I was a little worried about this one, because I had my name before I figured out what my brand was. Fortunately, my son (who knows me well) helped me with the name and I'm breathing a sigh of relief that it fits. "epicetera" was born when my son said my creations were "epic" which means "unordinary" and the word "etcetera" describes "limitless", which describes my personality. My business motto is: "extend beyond the ordinary, a number of things unspecified...............and everything in between."

So, what does all this mean, and how will you know what your brand is?

For me, it was like a light bulb lit up. I knew I was free-spirited. I knew I was drawn to highly unusual beads. The light bulb got brighter when I created this piece

 Chunky Tribal Necklace with Turquoise, Coral and White Buffalo Stone

I was excited about creating this necklace from the time I saw the beads until the time I took the photos to list it. Is this piece for everyone? No. But there is someone out there who will identify with me. This necklace tells a story about me, the artist. The more I stayed true to myself and created the things that excited me, the more I learned what my brand is....bold, daring, unusual. For you, it may be repurposing a vintage brooch, or creating something with so much sparkle that you need sunglasses to view it. Only you know what your brand is. Once you figure that out, you will be ready to market your product.

Watch for more on Part 2 "Marketing Your Brand" on my ArtFire blog.