Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Creating a Brand for a Small Arts or Crafts Business

We live in such an advertising based society that it has made me think about the importance of branding for the little guy in business for him or herself - specifically the artists and crafters out there like myself. My professional background is graphic design, and I now teach computer design courses for a local college. We cover visual identities, branding, and logos in my classes, but it seems to always be geared toward the large corporate businesses. This is understandable in a text book, but creating a visual identity, or brand, is certainly not just for the giants of industry.

It is very important that any size business put a professional face to the public. After all, you are likely competing with some of those giants of industry that have very large wads of cash in their pockets to advertise and market with. Something as simple as having a logo and creating a "brand" for yourself can really put your small business ahead. Whether you sell your handcrafted goods online, at craft fairs, in retail boutiques, or all of the above, you will in part be remembered solely by your logo and brand. Yes, that's right; we live in a commercialized visual society so make yourself memorable.

When I started selling my handmade felted goods almost a year ago now, I wasn't really thinking about it being a business. I had done freelance graphic design work for several years and considered that my small business focus. I honestly didn't think that my felt making could make an income worth being called a small business, but it is, it really is! I feel very, very blessed to be pursuing my two passions for a career - teaching graphic design and fiber art. That being said, I quickly realized that I needed to create a brand. I'm a trained graphic artist so that in itself was a substantial help, but anyone can do little things to present themselves professionally and market their small art/craft business like a pro.

It all really starts with making your brand, or as many see it, creating a logo for yourself. First you'll need a business name. This may already be established, it may be your own name, or it may be something that you need to think about. A good name is important, but the presentation of that name can be even more important. Next you'll want to develop a logo for your business name. This can be a visual or graphic element, it can include text, or it can be text or initials all by themselves. Also, you'll want to consider what spirit that you want it to portray. Do you want to be seen as sophisticated and high-end or quirky and fun (my personal choice!)? The possibilities are endless. You may need to sit down and list some key words to describe your business so that you can truly narrow down the look that your going for. If all of this intimidates you, then there are many wonderful freelance designers out there that would be happy to help you create a logo and get your brand started. Their services have a wide price range depending on the professional that you choose so be sure to ask ahead of time for their fees and range of services. Also, get references and ask to see a portfolio or examples of past work.

Well, that's the first few steps on the road to creating a brand for your small business. Once you've chosen a name and developed a logo, you can press on to creating a visual identity for yourself - a brand. In the coming weeks, I plan to share a few posts with you about how I've gone about doing this. For instance, I've developed a website, made labels and product cards with my logo, established an online presence, and there is much, much more to be done. I know that there are many more knowledgeable, well-established artists and crafters who have much more well-developed brands, but hopefully, I can share a little with you about what I'm doing and still learning to do.

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