Branding is one of the most critical things you can do for a business—any business!—to help it be successful. It’s easy to overlook branding for an Etsy store because, hey, isn’t it just another shop on a site full of them? People are already coming to Etsy to shop. Why do you need your own separate branding?
In truth, it’s exactly because of these reasons that your shop needs to be branded. You want to stand out from the thousands of other Etsy shops. You want to be memorable. You want your customers to think about shopping with your business, rather than just “shopping on Etsy.” Here are a few ways to make your Etsy shop truly yours.
1. Understand Your Brand
If you’ve done any research on branding at all, you’ve probably come across plenty of marketers reminding you that a brand is more than a logo and a slogan. Unfortunately, the reason they all say this is because it bears repeating! Your brand is everything about your business, from what it’s called to what you make to how you package your finished products. It includes your goals and your mission—the reason why you started the business in the first place—and the font you use on your business cards.
So yeah, branding can be a little overwhelming, but try to think of it as the big picture informing all the smaller elements. Start with the big points. Why did you start your business? What is most important to you as a business? Are you all about creating sustainable fashion? Are you creating one-of-a-kind knitted hats to express your creativity? What is it that makes this business uniquely yours?
From there, you can start making decisions about the smaller things, like what the business is called (yes, this is part of branding, too!) and what kinds of products make sense. Then down to even smaller details, like your logo, your slogans, the colors you use in your packaging, and so on.
2. Consider Your Customers
While your brand should be uniquely “you,” it’s also important to consider what will appeal to the customers you hope to attract. Think about the audience. If you’re pitching quirky pet beds to self-described pet parents, you want to use language that will appeal to them (think “fur-baby” instead of “your pet”). Remember that the people you’re hoping to use the products you create are not always the same as the people who will buy them. Children’s products are a prime example. Infants are probably not surfing Etsy looking for adorable onesies to wear for their three month photos. You’re marketing to moms, dads, and grandparents, so think about what they want in a onesie, too.
Avoid the trap of thinking your brand is for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to branding, and even though you may think you want to appeal to as many people as possible, it’s far better to appeal to the right people—that is, the ones who want to buy from you, rather than all the people who will skim over your page and move on without making a purchase.
3. Create a Branding Guide
So how do you keep track of all these brand goals and signature colors and preferred Instagram filters? By creating a branding guide, of course! Your guide should include everything about your brand that you might want to reference later, or that you would want a new employee to know if they were to start working for your business. Even if you don’t plan on ever hiring help, writing as if you’re planning to give this document to someone who knows nothing about your business can come in handy since it tracks all the nuances of your thinking. Later, something that seemed completely obvious in the moment might not be so clear, unless you write out all the reasoning behind it.
A brand guide can also help you keep from going overboard with all your brand decisions. Even though it should be comprehensive, a brand guide should really be quite short. If your guide is starting to feel bloated and full of too many options, chances are you’re getting away from the heart of your brand, and it’s time to cut away the excess to make sure your true brand shines through.
4. Be Visually Consistent
Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty practical tips. Sort of. The idea of being “visually consistent” is tricky, because it will mean something different to every shop. It’s not just a matter of always using the same background in your photos (that gets boring quick!) or the same camera settings. It means that all your visual elements— your product pictures, your fonts, your brand colors—go together. They don’t need to be monochromatic (unless that’s your thing) or all formatted exactly the same way (again, unless that’s your thing). They just need to be cohesive, and this is something that can take a lot of practice. Don’t be afraid to try lots of different things and only use the best ones. Your brand will be stronger for it.
5. Use a Distinct “Voice” in Your Writing
You can say that your shop is the longest running family owned upcycled clothing boutique in the greater Indianapolis area. Or you can say that your business puts a modern twist on vintage finds. Or you can say that you’re all about finding and creating the unique pieces that let your wardrobe match your personality. All of these could be talking about the same business, and they might all be true. But they each have their own voice, and, to stay consistent, a brand should have one particular voice. Think about who you are (both personally and as a business) and who you’re talking to. Are you a mom talking to other moms? An expert talking to a student? A friend talking to a friend? Let this guide the tone you take in all your writing, from social media posts to product descriptions.
6. Don’t Forget the Boring Stuff
Your policies, about page, and even product descriptions should be more than just a rote recitation of facts. For example, if you make graphic t-shirts that are funny and sassy, your product descriptions should be, too! Your return policy could include a caveat about not covering damage by marauding unicorns, unexpected Viking raids, or malicious cat vomit. Of course you need all the technical stuff in there, too, but these places are fantastic points to let your brand really shine. Don’t miss the opportunity!
7. Brand Your Packaging
You don’t need pricey printed labels and boxes for each of your items (though that’s nice, if you can afford it). But packaging is an important part of how your products are presented, and it says something about your brand. It can be as simple as a hang-tag that includes your product details, or a handwritten note to the customer tucked into the box before shipping. Whatever you do, make sure you’re consistent with your overall brand—remember, visual consistency! Use the right “voice!”
8. Choose the Right Product Mix
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to cram your shop full of Etsy’s trendiest items. Jewelry might be hot right now, but it doesn’t make any sense in a shop filled with knitwear. Unless, of course, it does—meaning that maybe you offer tasseled bracelets made with the last bits of yarn from each skein so they don’t go to waste.
Maybe that makes sense for your business, and maybe it doesn’t. Each product in your lineup should tell part of the same story. If anything doesn’t seem to fit, ask yourself why it’s there. If it’s your top seller, maybe the story you’re trying to tell isn’t the story your customers are hearing. This doesn’t mean you need to ditch the item, or completely revamp your brand, but it does mean that it’s time to have a serious think about what your brand means and what your message is across the board.
9. Keep the Brand Going Beyond the Shop
Your brand doesn’t end with your Etsy shop and your products. The whole point of branding is to introduce your business to customers in a way that makes you memorable, likeable, and worth returning to. Think of it like a first date. You want to make a good impression so there’s a second date. You don’t want that second date to be exactly like the first. That’s boring. In this metaphor, that “second date” would be a way for customers to engage with your brand outside of your Etsy shop. Think social media posts, follow up emails, a hashtag to follow printed on your packaging. Each time they engage with your business, they should recognize your brand, but there should always be something a little bit new and different, something to keep the conversation lively. With any luck, it will be a match made in heaven, and you’ll have a customer for life.