Monday, July 26, 2010

Tips for Etsy Success: Branding

I get asked all the time for tips on how to start a new shop and promote and increase business in an existing shop. I have compiled a list of tips that worked for me that I am happy to pass on to those that ask.

Since many of you are etsy shop owners yourselves, I thought it would be fun to share these tips, one at a time, as a kind of mini-series.

Before I begin, let me start by saying that in no way do I think I know everything about etsy or business. I know that I don’t. Many of you have shops that are more successful than mine and you will probably think my tips are very elementary. These tips are truly for shops that are just beginning or struggling or just want a fresh evaluation. I do consider myself fairly knowledgeable because of my academic background (I have a BS and MS in merchandising), business background (I have over 5 years of experience as a buyer for a major retailer) and etsy experience. That being said, let’s get on with it!

Tip No. 1:  A look at branding

Why are major retailers so successful? Because they brand themselves!

The first step in branding is developing the “heartbeat” of your shop. What is the common thread that will run through everything? What feeling do you want customers to have when they come into contact with your product? What is your shop’s personality? Most of you already know the answers to these questions. If you don’t, then think through these things before you go any further.

Once you know what your shop’s personality is, then you need to realize that Etsy customers want unique handmade items, but they still want it to be professional. The more professional your shop appearance, advertising and shipping presentations are, the more success you will have. Period.

When your shop looks pieced together and un-professional, your sales will reflect that. It may cost a little money upfront, but your sales will reflect it in the long run. When I started Noodles & Milk I spent money (through an etsy shop-there are tons that do graphic design) on having professional shop designs made. Based on my needs, I chose to have the following designed: logo, banner, avatars, business cards, shipping labels, web ads, clothing labels and hang tags. Don’t order branded supplies that you don’t need, but think through your business process and at what points you come into contact with your customers and make sure each of those points has a branded image to present yourself with. The investment is well worth it.  

If you can do the web designs yourself, great! If not, don’t use something shabby or half done, find someone to help you create the perfect design.

In addition, I decided on what I wanted my packaging to look like and I ordered supplies wholesale- colored wraphia and tissue paper for me. Once my packaging supplies came in, I played around with orders until I had a uniform way that all orders would be packaged. I wanted to make sure that when a customer received an order from me, they would appreciate the packaging as much as the custom product.

Branding is not just the appearance of your shop, but a consistent image and feeling that you portray throughout everything that your customer sees- your blog, facebook page, shop, packaging, advertising, etc. I am not saying that everything has to be matchy-matchy, because that would be just plain boring, but that your different outlets should resemble one another. They should have the same feel and vibe running through them so that customers “know where they are” and are not confused.

For your reference, some of the shops that I have had success with are:

Shop Design- This is my new shop design. I used someone else for the old design, but they have since changed their shop name and I can't find them!

I know this article is just a tiny piece of the branding puzzle. It would be really hard to cover all the depths of this topic seeing as there are entire college courses devoted to this very topic. I just wanted to wet-your-whistle and get you all thinking like a marketing professional. What else can you do for your shops image? What branding tips do you have to share?



Kristine said...

Thank you so much for this!!! I just opened my Etsy store a few months ago and have been wondering how to get my products "out there." Although, I've been so busy with "in real life" custom orders, I haven't had as much time as I would like to put into my Etsy shop! Thank you for sharing your resources, I am definitely going to check them out!

Ashley N said...

Thank you so much...what a great post. As I am currently trying to get a shop up and going, I can't tell you how timely this is for me. I can't wait to read the rest of your series.

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