I asked on Instagram if anyone wanted to see a blog post on product branding and the result was an overwhelming yes! I’ve actually written about this quite a long time ago, but it was fairly brief and my views on a few things have actually changed since. (I’ll cover all that as we go!)
Disclaimer here, I’m not a branding expert. I have however created and launched my own brand, so this is all based on my experience.
First of all, why create a brand and do you even need to?
Ultimately it depends on what your goal is. You certainly don’t have to. However, the fact that you’re reading this tells me that you have an idea for a product that you’d like to create. (As opposed to being interested in re-selling branded products.)
If you do have a product idea, that’s your idea (even if it’s your own spin on something that someone else is already currently selling), then I’d say it’s your product and you should put your brand on it.
What does private labelling mean?
If you’re selling a generic product and you put your logo and brand on it that’s referred to as private labelling. (As I’ve done with my bamboo baby products.)
Either way, it’s good to have a recognisable brand.
Some advantages of having a brand include:
- You can build up brand recognition. If someone buys from you, and your product is in a plain cardboard box, how will they remember you? How will they know how to buy from you again?
- You can build up your own customer base. If you decide to start selling on a third-party marketplace (such as Amazon), you have very little access to your customers. If the marketplace closes down, or throws you out, all those customers are gone. However, if you’ve branded your product people can and will go and find you elsewhere. As a side note, even if you are selling on another marketplace, I do recommend building your own website (even if it’s a very simple one and you don’t intend to sell on it yet).
- You can differentiate yourself from the competition. Especially if you plan to sell generic products, your brand and how you position it can make the difference between a customer buying from you over somebody else.
- It also protects you from someone else attempting to re-sell your product or pass it off as their own.
What does creating a brand entail? Where do you even start?
I know this is a huge topic and I like to make things as simple for you as possible. I’m certainly not a marketing or branding expert, so I’m going to focus on the essentials to help you get started.
Know your customer
I’ve spoken about knowing who your customer is many times, so I’m sure you know this by now. Having your customer in your mind when thinking about the elements of your brand will really help you. This post is a good place to start, if you want to know more.
For bonus points, you can even run potential brand names and logos by them. (I actually ran a survey to ask people to choose the final logo for Tiny Chipmunk!)
Choose your brand name
Things to consider here include:
- Is anyone else using the same name? Or does it sound very similar to an existing brand?
- Is the domain free? (If so, I suggest buying it, ready for whenever you do decide to create a website. (You don’t want to find out later on that it’s now not available…)
- Is it in anyway misleading or confusing? An example here is Hot Mama, a popular US clothing chain. They had to change their name, as customers thought they sold maternity clothes. (Which they don’t!)
How would you describe your brand?
For example, Tiny Chipmunk sells premium bamboo baby products that last and can be handed down from child to child.
I wanted my brand to be perceived as premium products (that are worth the higher price tag), as they’ll last.
High quality and sustainable were the key things I wanted to get across. Therefore, when it came to designing other brand elements, such as my logo, packaging and website, I could put premium and sustainable into the brief.
You don’t necessarily need a beautifully crafted brand statement or tagline. Just a line or two that you can use to tell people what your brand’s about is really helpful.
If you’re not there yet, you can always think of a few words to sum up your brand. For example:
Budget, premium, classy, fun, affordable, sustainable, unique, eco-friendly, approachable, sophisticated, special, quirky, innovative, dynamic, creative, every-day, down-to-earth, friendly, high-end, impactful, luxury, thoughtful, considerate, ethical.
A tip here is to think about how you want your customers to feel about your brand and use that as a starting point.
The concrete things you’ll need to get started
The first is a logo
When it comes to logo design there are online tools out there but I suggest, if you can, using a professional designer. (I used 99 designs.)
If you’ve worked out a name and either a handful of words, or a few sentences to sum up your brand this is a great place to start.
If you have any particular colours or fonts you like you can share these too.
This should be enough for a designer to come back with some options, as a starting point that you can then feedback on and develop until you have something you’re happy with.
The second is packaging and I’ll do a separate post on that soon, as there’s lots to cover.
The key thing is that your brand is reflected in your packaging. Again, it may be worth getting a designer to help with this, depending on your exact requirements.
For both packaging and logos do look around at what others are doing. Not to copy – but for inspiration. If you can send your designer examples of the kinds of things you like this will really help.
Finally, remember that your brand name, image and what you stand for can all change and evolve over time. Don’t let making it all perfect hold you back from getting started!