This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PutALabelOnIt #CollectiveBias
I jumped into opening my Etsy design shop with a passion for design but very little knowledge about business. I just wanted to do what I loved and make a bit of “fun” money doing it. As a business owner, we have all made mistakes and hopefully learned from them. We’ve seen others make mistakes and have seen others make awesome decisions that have made them successful business owners. After 4 years of being the designer/owner/social media specialist/ accountant/shipper/mailer and everything in between, I have a few tips on how to make sure your brand is consistent and professional so that you can be successful.
1.Who is your ideal customer? This one is hard for me because I love so many things and have so many hobbies/interests that my ideal customer may not exist. With design, I love designing for a myriad of different occasions: birthdays, baby showers, decorating nurseries, sending thank you notes, helping brand a business. Time and time again, study after study, everyone will say that you can’t cater to everyone. It’s like if you make everyone feel special no one really is special. You need focus. Focus on your ideal customer. Focus on your niche. Focus on your strengths. For example, as much as I loved logo design, it took up too much of my time so I had to do away with that aspect of design. It wasn’t my strength nor my passion. I had to sit and write down what I really wanted to sell and who would buy it. Excluding is not my forte but for the sake of my business it had to be done. Again, I needed to focus on an area of expertise and a customer. The more specific you are the better. So for me, I design for the casual yet sophisticated Kate Middleton + humorous and colorful Mindy Kalings (with a touch of Brenda Bird) of the world. Sort of. At least that is who I’d like to appeal. Because I’d like to appeal to those types of customers I need to create items that attracts them but still has my essence so I don’t feel like I am not being true to myself. Spoken like a true creative, huh? I can’t go and create something for them and also try to appeal to Howard Stern or Hillary Clinton. It would be out of my element and again, out of focus.
2. What’s in a name? So much should go into naming a business. First, it should have something to do with your business. For example, if you bake pies or other goods, Bakerella is a great name as it tells your customer exactly what you do.For those not happy with their brand’s name for whatever reason, rebranding is an option. One tip I wish I knew before naming my company: consistent name on social media. So let’s say you pick a name and get a website- you think you are all set! No no. Before you commit, check twitter, instagram, pinterest, etc. to see if your name is taken. People need to be able to find you on those outlets easily. I think if you have to add a slight variation like a number or underscore that is fine but to be different names on all social media channels will dilute the consistency of your brand. I fell into this mess and what I did was add my name to my company. Instead of just From Me, With Love it is From Me, With Love: Brenda Bird Designs that way people can find me on my website (brendabirddesigns.com) and by frommewith_love on my social media outlets. Keep it simple and keep it short…or at least something that is memorable.
3. As you read above you see that I have some trouble honing in on one thing. I am eclectic but I lean towards a little more simple and elegant. I use neutral colors because I am afraid to commit but at the same time I love bright colors. I am just confused. Hah! So how, with so many likes and contradictions, can you keep your brand consistent but still in tune with the real you? This can be solved pretty easily: use of color + elements. Keep at least one aspect of your logo or other branding elements consistent. For example, you love simple things but can’t pick just one color to be “your brand.” That’s ok! Pick 3-4 colors/patterns to be consistently included on your business cards, website, social media backgrounds, etc. And then you can use your logo in those colors to mix it up a little and feed that want of being colorful simply and consistently. Or perhaps you don’t want to use your entire logo on everything from packaging to header to labels. Pick one aspect (or even font/typeface!) of it and use it throughout different channels. For example, I have a feather in my logo. In packaging, using my entire logo may be too cluttered so instead I just use the feather and my website. And then when I am watermarking my pictures I could include my name in the credits along with the feather. They can all look different but keep the same element (the feather) to keep a cohesive look.4. Having the correct tools is essential in helping you develop a consistent and professional brand. When I first started my business, I used full page sticker sheets to label my products as well as ship them. I had the stickers left over from a birthday party I threw. I hand cut them out and used those to mail out my products. Yikes. Looking back I realize that was a pretty unprofessional and time consuming move. Then I tried precut labels. You know what I am talking about. Mine always got cut off at the top so I would try to fix it but then it was off center (#perfectionist problems). No business owner should be wasting her time on silly things like this! You should be spending your time doing what you do best: creating.
To help me with saving time and resources, so I can have more time to create and sell, I have been using the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Value Bundle Pack from Staples. I bought this on staples.com but it is available at select Staples store location– make sure to check your local store for availability. I can save money on ink because, guess what, it is a thermal transfer and does not use ink. Hallelujah. The bundle comes with 4 rolls of LabelWriter label rolls! And you know how much I hate wasting things- the LabelWriter is precise and saves you from wasting all that paper when you mess up printing on your printer. You can save time by creating labels directly from text in Microsoft® Word, Excel®, Outlook®, QuickBooks® and other programs or easily print addresses from Outlook® Contacts or Mac® Address Book. Awesome for business as well as personal use… hello Holiday Cards!
Besides the Bundle Pack, the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Turbo is another option. Labeling and packaging couldn’t get simpler. It prints precise quantities while eliminating the waste and hassle of sheet labels. Using the DYMO Label™ software and DYMO Stamps® Label, you can mail and file more efficiently. Speaking of efficiency, it prints up to 71 labels per minute- it sure lives up to its name: Turbo. Do you know how long it would take me to manually print and cut 71 labels. Not 1 minute. Not even close. You can also customize and print address, shipping, file folder and barcode labels, plus name badges, etc.– all from your PC or Mac®*
I hope these tips were useful in helping you see ways you can make your brand consistent. I’ve learned some things running a small business the hard way and wish I had more guidance on the matter.
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What other tools do you find helpful in your business? How do you think the DYMO LabelWriter® 450 Bundle could help you?