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As an artisan business owner and maker, your product is unique and made with love, care and attention. You’ve spent many years crafting your product offering to a fine art, growing and developing your business into what it is now. Over time, you’ve carefully and conscientiously created a robust supply chain that reflects your personal values and high quality standards.
Your enthusiasm for your products can be seen and heard everywhere you go. In fact, it’s infectious! But how do you think new customers who don’t meet you in person will perceive you, your brand and your products? Will your brand and how you communicate it make the right impression on these prospects?
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to think about this. The common misconception is that your brand is your logo, but it’s much more than that. Yes, your logo is important. But it’s only one small part of your overall identity (or a small part of your story, if you like).
Your brand encapsulates every element of your business. From the colours, fonts, image styles and patterns you use, to your tone of voice (how you sound in writing), and how all these aspects come together to form a whole.
In this blog, I’m given a brief guide to breaking down and evaluating your current brand, so you understand how customers perceive your business. Read on to find out more.
Your customers want to know who you are: your life history, why and how you create your products, and the kind of lifestyle that being an artisan entails. Using your unique tone of voice to write from the heart creates authenticity, belief and an insight into your world – a powerful invitation for your customers to get to know you.
As a result, they’ll gain a deeper understanding of what drives you to create your beautiful products, inspiring real affinity with you and your business. Speaking to your customers in this way lets them see the truth and honesty behind your brand.
Now we come to your brand’s visual presence. Does it represent your business in the way you want? This isn’t so much about existing customers who are familiar with your brand, as they’ll already have experienced the quality of your products and unique customer journey. It’s more about how prospective customers react to your brand when they first encounter it.
Try asking yourself these questions. What would a new customer’s first impression of your brand be like? Would it resonate with them? Does your brand truly reflect your products’ key features: their quality, individuality and handcrafted nature? When it comes to your type of business, customers buy with their hearts – and first impressions really do count!
To give a statistic, the average consumer will form an opinion about a new brand in just three seconds. In other words, that’s how long you have to convince them to buy from you (that’s no time at all).
This is why it’s so important that your brand appeals to your customers’ lifestyle aspirations as well as their values and beliefs (which we’d hope are the same as yours). By aligning yourself with prospective customers in this way, you can attract the right people to your business and convert them into paying customers.
To summarise, your brand is a reflection of you, your products and your values. It’s the whole identity of your business and needs to appeal to your customers’ hearts as well as their heads. Consumers buy into brands they want to align themselves with. So the key to success is making the right first impression, so your brand reflects how your customers want to be perceived.
Take a step back and review your entire brand. Don’t focus on one element at a time, look at the big picture. Ask yourself: Do you love the whole visual direction of your brand? Is it giving the right impression of your business? Also consider whether you’re attracting the right type of customer at the moment.
Stick examples of your branding into a sketchbook and keep it to refer back to. Also, write down words or phrases that spring to mind when you look at your brand as a whole, all at one time and in one place.
Spend time looking through magazines, Pinterest and your competitors’ marketing materials for aspirational brand ideas. Don’t limit yourself to your precise field. Look at brands associated with your product range as well. For example, if you make organic candles, you could look at sustainable furniture designers, handmade ceramic makers and so on.
Pull all the images together, lay them on a table and see how different they look from your own brand. Then stick these images in your sketchbook after your current brand examples.
Think about the colours you looked at in step two; it stands to reason that these are colours you’re drawn to. Can you see a significant colour, or tonal range, which has appeared throughout your findings? You could also use colour charts for this exercise (try paint charts), pulling out colours and tones that appeal and putting them in your sketchbook. Remember these colours should be relative to your business all year round, not just the current season.
Throughout this process, always keep your business in mind, as the images you personally love might not be right for it.
Its evaluation time! Compare your current brand and marketing materials with the images you’ve pulled together. Do they reflect your brand values, product quality, your target audience’s lifestyle and your aspirations for your business?
After this review process, you may find that some elements of your branding need tweaking – or you might discover that it doesn’t reflect what you want it to at all.
You’ll be surprised to find there’ll be a consistent look to everything, though you might not see it at first. An experienced designer will be able to see the hidden links and explain them to you. Your brand’s perception will be linked to a specific consumer lifestyle, which will help you create a stronger following of loyal advocates who’ll buy from you time and again. They’ll also recommend you to others, helping grow your business further.
I guess to sum up, how your brand is perceived holds the key to gaining new customers and spreading the word about your amazing products. Here’s to your success!