Do you want to learn how to brand your business so that it stands out in the crowd? Lucky for you, I am sharing all the best tips in this blog post!
When you get onto marketplaces (such as Etsy or Shopify), or social media (such as Instagram or TikTok), you want to make sure that your business and products stand out from the rest. This will help you connect with potential buyers and build brand awareness.
- But how do you create a brand?
- What Is A Brand?
- What Are The Basics of Branding?
- Can You Start A Brand By Yourself?
- #1 - Market Research
- #2 - Define Your Brand Identity
- #3 - Decide On A Business Name
- #4 - Creating Your Brand Style Guide
- #5 - Creating Your Brand Message
- #6 - Make Your Brand Visuals
- #7 - Putting Everything Together
- How Can I Brand My Business For Free?
- How Do I Brand My Business On A Tiny Budget?
- Where To Find Product Ideas For A Handmade Business?
But how do you create a brand?
I am going to walk you through the process step-by-step in this blog post. Whether you're just getting started, or you want to do a full rebrand of your existing business, there is something here for you!
But before you start creating your brand, there are a few things about branding that you should know first.
What Is A Brand?
When you think of a brand, you may think of big companies like Apple, Nike, and Disney. You might also think of logos, fonts, and colors. But what is branding really?
A strong brand identity can help your customers build an emotional connection to your business. This is hugely important when they make buying decisions. Branding is also a great way to stand out from the competition.
It's also important to remember that a brand is not something you can create in a day. Instead, it's something that is built over time and with consistency. But, there are a few things you should do before you launch your business to build a branding foundation.
What Are The Basics of Branding?
Every business owner and designer breaks personal branding up into different steps and stages. But as a fellow handmade business owner, I have found these 7 steps are the best way to break up the branding process for our type of business.
- Step #1 - Market Research
- Step #2 - Define Your Brand Identity
- Step #3 - Decide On A Business Name
- Step #4 - Creating Your Brand Style Guide
- Step #5 - Creating Your Brand Message
- Step #6 - Make Your Brand Visuals
- Step #7 - Putting Everything Together
Can You Start A Brand By Yourself?
I wouldn't consider branding to be a hard thing. It is however incredibly time-consuming. Hiring a branding agency may help you get things done faster.
But, with the right tools and resources, you can easily start a brand by yourself. And I am sharing a full list of those tools and resources coming up.
#1 - Market Research
I know, I know.... research is not always the most fun thing to do.
However, doing proper market research can literally be the difference between success and failure. It will help you understand the current marketplace, how your business fits into it, and your target market.
So, plan some time when you can sit down uninterrupted with your favorite beverage to do your market research. You can do this in a quiet space in your home, at your local coffee shop, at the library, and so on.
What Kind Of Market Research You Should Do
If you are starting a business selling handmade items, here are the best things to research.
- What are your competitors doing?
- What do their websites look like?
- How are they listing their items for sale?
- Do they market their business online? And if so, where?
- How does their pricing compare to yours?
- Who is your ideal customer? (Describe in as much detail as possible to create buyer personas.)
- Where do they hang out online?
- What kind of issues or needs do they have that you can help solve with your products?
- What keywords or key phrases do they say a lot?
- What is trending in your industry or niche right now?
- Are there any upcoming trends that you can see?
- Are there any new technologies or products that you need to be aware of?
- What are people talking about in forums, blogs, and social media?
Gaps In The Industry
- What needs or wants are unmet in the industry?
- Are there any areas where customers are not being served well?
- Are there any areas where you can provide a better product than what is currently available?
Where To Do Your Market Research
There are a bunch of great online resources and tools that you can use to do your market research. Here are some of my favorites.
- The platforms you will sell on. (Etsy, Shopify, etc.)
- Social media platforms where your customers hang out.
- Google search. (Check the people also ask and related searches section too.)
- Google trends.
- Online forums such as Quora or Reddit.
- Industry-specific blogs.
If you have time to do even more research, then you could also consider doing a survey. There are free tools you can use like GoogleForms, Airtable, or SurveyMonkey to make your survey. Then send it to your potential customers or people you know who resemble your ideal customers for feedback.
#2 - Define Your Brand Identity
When creating a memorable brand, you need to be able to clearly define your brand identity. Doing this will help you develop an emotional response between your business and customers, something that is super important when trying to stand out from the competition.
Here is how you can do that.
Choosing Brand Values
Choosing brand values is important because it lays the foundation of what your business stands for. Some great examples include "customer first", "respect", and "excellence" when talking about stellar customer service. Or “eco-friendly”, “green living”, etc., when talking about an environmentally friendly business.
Brainstorm what matters most to you as a business and find core value words that show that in a positive way. To get some brand value ideas that you can steal, go here.
Create A Mission Statement
Every business needs a mission statement. It's how you explain your business to the world in a short, easy-to-understand way. Here are a couple of examples from some big brands.
Nike - “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”
Apple - “To provide the best user experience and customer service in the world.”
Coca-Cola - “Refreshing the world, one Coca-Cola at a time.”
Now, creating a mission statement will not be easy. To make it easier, here are some tips to help get you started.
- Consider how you want your customers to feel.
- Think about what you have to offer that your competitors don't. (Your unique value proposition.)
- Talk about what you want your customer experience to be.
- Keep it simple and memorable.
The first step will just be brainstorming different ideas. Then, start refining your ideas. If you get stuck, share your ideas with people you know. Then they can share some ideas and feedback with you.
Develop Your Brand Voice
Have you ever noticed that big companies like Apple, Nike, and Disney use the same language over and over on their website, their marketing campaigns, and so on? That's because they have developed a brand voice.
Having a brand voice simply means how you will communicate with your customers. For example, Apple uses a friendly, helpful tone in all of its communications. They also use short sentences and minimal jargon so that everyone can understand what they're saying. This is their brand voice.
To develop your own brand voice, think about how you want people to perceive your business. Do you want to be seen as friendly? Professional? Quirky? Fun? Edgy?
The next step is to brainstorm some keywords and phrases that match your business personality. Make sure you've also included words and terms that your potential customers use too. This will help them connect with your business.
Once you're done making your list, set it aside, but keep it close. You will need this when brainstorming business name ideas, writing your taglines, and more!
#3 - Decide On A Business Name
Choosing a name for your business can feel daunting. After all, it is very permanent unless you plan to change the name of your business down the road. So, how do you choose a business name that is lasting, represents your business well, and is unique?
Here are my top tips!
Tip #1 - Have A Brainstorming Session
You might be surprised at how many ideas you have already. So, sit down and have a free-flow brainstorming session. Write down every idea that comes to your mind, good or bad. Just because something doesn't seem like it would work right off the bat doesn't mean you can reword things to make them better.
This doesn't have to be formal. Just get all of your ideas out of your head and onto paper or your computer.
Tip #2 - Play With Different Words
Don't feel limited by your vocabulary! You can play with different word ideas to create something unique that still represents your business and brand.
- Combine two or more words.
- Use a word that typically means something else. (Think of Apple as an example. Apple is a fruit, but the company sells technology.)
- Make up a word. (Nike or Pepsi are good examples of this.)
Tip #3 - Think Of How The Name Sounds
A great company name should be short and easy to pronounce. So, say it out loud a few times. Write it down on paper. How does it sound?
Tip #4 - Use An AI Name Generator
Sometimes, the creative juices just don't flow. Or maybe every idea you've come up with has been taken by other companies already. If this sounds like you, consider using an AI name generator to help you come up with new and fresh ideas! GoDaddy has a great tool you can use to do this here.
Tip #5 - Get Ideas From Friends & Family
If you're still stuck, consider getting ideas from people you know. Sometimes they will be able to see things from a different angle and can come up with things you may not have even thought about.
Tip #6 - Make Sure The Name Is Unused
Once you've found a business name that you love, it's time to check to make sure it's not being used by a competitor or in some other way.
First, I recommend checking to make sure that the domain name is available if you ever want to build a website. You can do that using a domain checker like this one.
Next, do some online research on social media platforms and Google. If people are using the name and they could be confused with your business, then consider something else.
#4 - Creating Your Brand Style Guide
To make sure that the overall design of your brand is consistent, you should create a brand style guide next. This will include:
- Creating a mood board
- Font selection
- Choosing your brand colors
Crafting Your Signature Style
Sometimes we all could use a little more help and inspiration. Branding your business is a big deal!
My friend over at Hey Let's Make Stuff has a fantastic workshop with all the tools you need to help you figure out the style of your business!
For a limited time, you can get your hands on the Crafting Your Signature Style Bundle at a special price! It includes color palette ideas, fonts, and more!
To get your hands on this bundle, click the button below!
Creating A Brand Mood Board
The first step is to create a mood board that visually represents how you want your brand to look. Collect images, colors, fonts, and other visuals that embody how you want your brand to appear. This can include anything from product photos, lifestyle shots, logos from competitors that inspire you, etc.
Once your mood board is complete, use it as a reference when creating your logo, website design, and other visual elements of your brand.
Picking Fonts For Your Brand
Fonts can be tricky to pick because there are so many options. Thankfully there are a variety of resources you can use to help you find the perfect one for your brand!
Some great places to find commercial-use fonts include Creative Market, Adobe, and Etsy. (Tip - Whenever you purchase a font for use, make sure you read the Commercial Use policy in full to make sure your use is compliant with the creator's terms and conditions.)
Choose Your Brand Colors
When choosing your color palette, I recommend starting by researching what the different colors mean. Then, pick the ones that align the best with your personal brand. For example, if you want your customers to feel relaxed, choose blues and greens, whereas if you want them to feel energized pick oranges and yellows.
But you shouldn't just use one color. I think it's best to use three colors; the main color and two accent colors. This allows for there to be consistency but also variation within your branding materials.
Make Your Brand Style Guide
Now that you have your mood board, fonts, and color schemes chosen, you can put them all together to make your brand style guide. This will help you keep a cohesive brand image across your entire business.
If you ever work with a graphic designer or freelancer, they will ask for your brand style guide.
But this can also be helpful for you as you create your marketing materials, set up your shop, and so on.
#5 - Creating Your Brand Message
This next step is all about taking what you planned during step #2 and creating a brand message for your customers. This is very important to do before you launch your business because it will help you communicate with your customers the same way every time, talk about your business, address issues or concerns, and so on. This can help build customer loyalty, something that is super valuable to new businesses.
Your brand messaging can show up in:
- your taglines
- the copy on your website
- product listings
- social media captions
- marketing strategy
- and more!
Writing A Tagline For Your Business
Your tagline should be a short phrase that sums up what your business is about. It should mirror the values of your brand and how you want customers to feel when they think about your business.
Some examples of great taglines are:
- Apple – "Think Different"
- Nike – "Just Do It"
- Starbucks – "Share The Cheer"
- Target – "Expect More, Pay Less"
To write a great tagline for your own business, start by brain-dumping all of the words and phrases associated with your brand into one document. Once you have those, you can start to put them together in different combinations until you find one that resonates with how you want people to think and feel about your business.
And be sure to get feedback on the taglines you are brainstorming. That way you can get a better sense of how it will be received by your target audience.
Once you have your tagline, make sure to include it everywhere where you’re communicating with customers – from your website to your social media accounts.
Write The Copy For Your Website
If you are going to have a website, then now is a great time to write the copy for it. And remember to include the keywords and phrases that are associated with your brand identity in the copy.
For example, if you are an eco-friendly business then make sure to use words like “sustainable” or “environmentally friendly” in your copy.
If you want to learn more about how to write good copy for your website, check out this awesome guide!
Product Listings & Social Media Captions
Another way to use your brand messaging is through product listings and social media captions. This will help you stand out from the competition to your customers.
Again, use the same keywords and key phrases you brainstormed in step #2. The more consistently you use these words, your brand will become more and more recognizable. It is also helpful for your brand if the way you communicate reflects your brand's personality. For example, if your brand personality is fun and lively, be sure to use language that conveys this.
#6 - Make Your Brand Visuals
The next step is to start making your brand visuals. If this is something you struggle with, you might consider hiring a graphic designer to help you.
Since they will only be responsible for making the visuals, it won't be as expensive as if you hire someone to do all your branding for you. To find a graphic designer, check Facebook Groups or job boards such as Fiverr and UpWork.
If you want to make your graphics, you will need some design software. Here are my top picks!
And if you are not familiar with how design works, you will be pleased to know there are a lot of tutorials and courses available online that can help you. These include courses on how to use your design software, how to make logos, how to set up websites, and so on. Here are my favorite resources.
Designing A Logo
When it comes to logo design, there are a few different routes you can take. You can hire a professional designer, use a logo template, or design it yourself!
If you want to hire a professional designer to create a custom logo for you, consider looking in Facebook Groups, UpWork, or Fiverr. You might be surprised to find that it doesn't cost a lot to have a custom logo designed for your business.
If you're on a tight budget, but don't want to design the logo yourself, you might consider using templates instead. Canva Pro, and even the free version, have logo templates you can use. However, make sure you read their commercial use policy fully before using the templates. You can also buy logo templates from Etsy, Creative Market, and Adobe.
The last option is to design the logo yourself. To do this, you will need access to a design software program. Canva has some amazing premade options for logos.
Make sure to check the licensing for anything that you use.
Tip: Make sure your logo is optimized for online use by downloading it in SVG format (vector) and PNG formats. This enables you to use the same file across different platforms without losing quality or having to resize them each time.
Designing Your Website
When it comes to web design, you have several options depending on how much time and money you want to invest. You can hire a professional designer, use a website builder such as Wix or Squarespace, or learn how to set up a website yourself.
If you plan on hiring someone, make sure that they understand what your branding guidelines are and how to implement them into the design of the site. That way when people come across your website they will know right away that it is yours.
If you want to save some money, then you might prefer to use a website builder. These will cost significantly less than hiring a web designer. But you will not have as many customization options. Plus, the monthly fees for these website builders can add up quickly over time.
With that being said, website builders are super easy to use. They have plenty of templates that you can choose between to match whatever aesthetic you're looking for. But make sure what you choose follows your branding guidelines.
The final and cheapest option is to learn how to build a website, yourself. Don't worry! This isn't as complicated as it sounds because you don't need to know how to code anymore to build your own site.
To build your website, you are likely looking at using WordPress.org. What's great about this option is the website will cost less to run throughout the year, you will have more control over your website, and you can customize it how you like.
To learn how to build your own website, I recommend checking out some tutorials on Skillshare, Udemy, or even YouTube.
Creating Posts & Graphics
The next step in brand building is creating your social media posts, graphics for your website, and so on.
You can use the same design software for all of these things as you did for the previous steps. And Canva actually comes with thousands of templates for different platforms and social media that you can use to get started. Just use your brand style guide to make sure everything is cohesive, and you will be set!
Get Business Cards Made Up
If you want to use business cards as a way to get your business name out there, then now is a good time to make them.
When it comes to the design of your business cards, you should use the same colors, fonts, and logos that you used for your website. That way everything stays consistent with how you have branded your business. Make sure to also include all of your contact info on the card as well so people can reach out to you easily!
If you have a Canva account, then you can use their templates to make them quickly. Just be sure to read their commercial use policy fully before using the templates.
Remember, your visual identity is often the first thing a new customer will see. And it's how they will remember your business. So, it's important to make sure that all of the elements come together in a cohesive and memorable way.
#7 - Putting Everything Together
At this point, you will have a lot of separate pieces. But, for your branding to be effective, you need to bring it all together. This includes:
- finishing the setup of your website and social media accounts
- setting up your online store
- creating all your product listings
- creating marketing materials to promote your business
- and so on.
But, I am not going to lie, this stage can feel very overwhelming. Especially since this will be the point when you can officially launch your business. And that is a nerve-wracking feeling.
So, here are my top tips for putting all of this together without overwhelming yourself.
Tip #1 - Focus On One Thing At A Time
If you try and tackle too many things at once, it will just lead to confusion and overwhelm. So, break your tasks down into smaller chunks and focus on one thing at a time.
Tip #2 - Take Breaks
Make sure you give yourself regular breaks to recharge your brain. Do something that helps you relax or just take some time to do something fun. This will help keep you motivated, focused, and energized.
Tip #3 - Ask For Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback if you need it. It can be really helpful to have another person look over everything before you launch your business. Someone else may spot something that you missed or even give you some helpful advice.
Once everything is in place, you're ready to launch your business to the world! And that brings us to the final stage of branding your business.
How Can I Brand My Business For Free?
If you're on a tight budget, it is possible to brand your business for free. Here are some tips and resources that can help you!
Utilize Free Design Platforms
If you don't have the budget to hire professionals to do your branding for you, it can be really helpful to use free design platforms that offer templates and resources to help you DIY your branding.
My recommendation is Canva. They are great because you can create your fonts and colors on the brand board for cohesiveness. Plus, they offer access to millions of photos, illustrations, and graphics!
You can use Canva to make:
- your logo
- pictures & graphics for your website
- social media posts
- mockup images for your shop listings
- and more!
You don't have to come up with everything all on your own! Look around online for inspirational branding ideas and research how other handmade businesses have branded their business. Take notes on what you like, how they did it, and how you can apply those same principles to your brand!
Watch Tutorials & Courses
If you're feeling overwhelmed, consider watching some tutorials or taking a course. It's amazing how much you can learn in just an hour or two. Some of my favorite places to learn include Skillshare and YouTube.
While Skillshare does have a yearly fee, you might be able to write this offer under business expenses (depending on where you are located in the world), and it is a low-cost learning option. If you want free tutorials, then YouTube is the place to be!
How Do I Brand My Business On A Tiny Budget?
If you do have a small budget to work with, it can be helpful to get some help with your branding. Here are a few cost-effective options:
Find A Designer Who Creates Customisable Templates
A lot of designers offer customizable branding templates that give you all the key components of your brand (colors, fonts, logos, etc) but they're pre-made so they cost much less than an entirely custom design.
Hire A Freelancer For Specific Tasks
If there are only certain parts of branding your business that you need help with, it can be much more budget-friendly to hire a freelancer. For instance, you could get help with your logo design or website setup and then DIY the rest of the branding process.
So, that's how to brand your business!
I truly hope this blog post has shown you how to brand your business with confidence. By following these 7 steps, you'll be able to create a powerful and unique brand identity that will help you stand out from your competition!
Where To Find Product Ideas For A Handmade Business?
Are you interested in starting a business selling handmade products? I have hundreds of blog posts sharing different craft ideas, free designs to help you get started, and more.
Here are some of my top picks!
- How To Tie Dye With Acrylic Paint Step-By-Step Tutor
- How To Use Cricut Design Space For Cricut Mug Design
- How To Make A Shirt With Cricut Design Space