These business tips can be used by small companies (or perhaps large - or hopefully someday large) companies, whether they produce products, visuals, websites or words. Some or all of these tips can be helpful for recognizable branding or to help build a professional aura (hopefully with a lot of truth) to a company, i.e. brand.
- "Designer inspired" is not "truly inspired". Be truly inspired but don't verge into something that looks like that misnomer *designer* "inspired". This goes mostly for trademark-able things like prints or certain shapes, or for when combining a lot of inspiration especially from the same source – Don’t. Also, don't copy liberally or literally from peers in your own product type. Copy from the sky, a shadow, a beloved pet, maybe even something as everyday as a pillow. (And maybe copy minimally even from this list, as these things have inspired me.)
- Pertaining to fashion, don’t get overly “brandy” too early. 1, this might add costs (especially in small runs or one-offs) that customers definitely don’t want (yet). 2, there really is no desire there, because the *logo’d IT item thang* is for status, unfortunately.
- Act professional and treat this like a business (if you don’t want to, perhaps you don’t need this list). One example of this is to communicate with prospective customers in a manner that shows they matter.
- Get your brand’s domain name, or something close if taken (and get a .com). Yes, even musicians can’t get their names – but try to snatch the perfect one if it’s available.
- If you can do more than that minimal step, and I do mean minimal; make your website work for you – and put work or money into it. Catalogs aren’t as helpful as stores or links to buy or find in B&Ms. Flash isn’t nearly as helpful as HTML (and even pictures). Etc.
- It’s not just your brand, your company; often it’s you. Consumers need trust, and with “mom and pops” they often crave a human connection. Post your photo & write your about page with plenty of info about you, not just the biz. There’s a lot more you can do as well, and you should – even though I understand your shyness.
- More about you. You are the voice, or the words, of your company. When you write as your brand or owner name in comments on related blogs, etc., communicate in forums and the like for your business –-- do it professionally and with tonssss of kindness. Also, don’t be a tool and advertise yourself too much, or perhaps at all.
- But it’s also photography & graphics (and back to your website—web design). Either work hard on these yourselves if you’re talented or don’t skimp on their costs.
- On marketing. Free marketing can be found and is great, so even if your budget is small don’t skimp on going beyond Twitter, Facebook and bookmarking (or the usuals in your genre). I’ve found that if under funded, too much time spent on product, which only means too little on promotion, will actually get you less far. Posting links to places helps but it’s reliant on publishing new content, well, perhaps too much, depending on your brand. How does this relate to brand recognition, not just business? They say that repeatedly seeing an advertisement helps. Also – you must be patient with that method! How does it relate to manufacturing/crafting products? Go outside normal promotion that is very similar to blog/article writing (like making sure you have new items, etc.) and invest in a long-term ad campaign, perhaps. But also, discover all the many awesome new free promotion venues out there and use them! (This may require good photography, see #8.)
- But it’s most importantly your product, or your main “feature”. It should sell itself and hopefully your business brand and reputation. Work hardest of all on this. (As far as time spent; sidebars will come and go on blogs, for example. And quality importance; archives will always have those past entries and say for crafters; things like stitches should remain.)
- A lot of rules can be broken (here and especially elsewhere) - just do "everything" in moderation. In fact, do every little aspect of rule-breakage in moderation, or that might be my humble haughty opinion. Or not. Break it all, baby – as long as you don’t break your product or general quality, it can be your new rule.
- Don’t do things normally or “as expected”. I didn’t do a 10-sectioned lists, or even with a bonus as #11. If you’re a designer, let’s say; design – don’t just construct. Even if it takes a while to hone these skills, attain to master them. To be a designer brand means to be unique (or at least it should). Even if it’s just such high quality that you’re at the top of the game in a shortcut society. Maybe just living up to the quality name of handmade, or putting it back in the name – as it may be, is a great step. (After these 12.)
As a little almost-disclaimer or inspiring(?) footnote, I want to introduce new readers, and further inform old, from whom this comes. I'm a trained writer and a self-student of fashion & even business on an often occasion. This is somebody who's worked on her own “media” business for years, learning maybe too hands-on about "What Not to Do", which - for the intelligent - does lend to What To Do. This entrepreneur/dreamer also studies various aspects of brands, reads a lo-hot of articles, and am finally ready to start my new permanent company, in all (or mostly) the right ways. This does mean I'm switching companies, but not from failure but an opportune time - and at least mostly; the right time. The new one will stick or I'll go down with the glue-failing ship (that’s a pun---more like capitalistic fail – but still I won’t let it sit sunk). It's my final-career / dream fashion label - in the designing I've wanted to do not only since before I blogged, but before I wrote much at all. Slow going for reasons I don't need to clog down this article with except to say: (#13?) slow and steady does win the race. More on that later or in my Twitters @sydebrand or @designerella – where you can find me quite often these days, also still learning What Not to Do.
To sum that up, I’m not perfect, but I am smart and can learn. I also want to help!