An extract from Angie Boothroyd’s business beginners’ book.
Jeweller Angie Boothroyd has written an accessible guide to launching your own jewellery business. in this extract she explains why branding is so important, no matter what size of company you are running.
"But I’m just a small business!” you cry. “I’m not a brand!” Whether you like it or not, if you are in business, your business has a brand. If you haven’t devised a brand yourself, then the public will have created one for you. This is because branding is not just about logos and slogans; branding is how the public perceives your business.
So, if you’ve just done your first exhibition, you’ve already sent a message to the public explaining what you’re all about. In what sort of venue was it? Who else was exhibiting? What were your price points? How did you speak to your customers? Whatever your answers, the people who encountered your stand will have come to their own conclusions about you and your business. They might think you are expensive, cheap, cutting edge, traditional, agreeable, difficult, mysterious, down-to-earth.
Think of it this way: your business is a living thing. Like a person, it has a personality. In business, this personality is called a brand. And just as your own personality influences the way you dress, speak and behave, so your brand pervades everything that you make, say or do.
Presumably, you would like your jewellery, and therefore your business, to be perceived a certain way. If your work is made for going out clubbing in, then you will want to project a different image to, say, a brand specialising in fine gem-set jewellery. Branding is about making sure this is clear, by stating in no uncertain terms what your values are as a designer and as a business. This clarity is vital to your business for two reasons.
The first one is trust. Your customers need to be reassured that you are a serious business, not some fly-by-night operation that’s going to be forgotten in a few years’ time. If you present yourself coherently and professionally, you will establish yourself in your customer’s mind as a business worth dealing with.
Second, when somebody makes a purchase from you, they are making a statement about themselves – their tastes, their aspirations, their values. If your brand values are clearly aligned with those of your customer, you help your customer to make this statement about themselves by buying from you. They shouldn’t be aware of the fact that you are saying, “Hey, my values and your values are the same, so buy from me!” It is much subtler than that.
Identifying your brand values
Take some time to think about what you, as a business, stand for. What is your jewellery all about? What words do you use to describe it? How would you like others to describe it? Is it fun, serious, young, sophisticated, dark, light? List all the characteristics you can. Don’t just talk about the physical attributes of your jewellery; think about the emotions and feelings it might convey – words such as relaxed, aggressive, or quiet. Universal words like this are especially useful in building a brand because of their potential breadth. Once you’ve settled on a concept or a few key words, the branding comes easily. It’s just a matter of keeping your brand identity in mind at all times.
Applying your brand to your business
Remember, your brand is the personality of your business, and should shine through wherever possible. This means making sure that all your communications, actions, and decisions are in line with your branding. This includes:
Price points: Your prices have a huge effect on how your work is perceived. If you are targeting a wealthy audience, you won’t be doing yourself any favours by under-pricing your work to the point where it is perceived as cheap.
Photography: Your product shots should be as clean and straightforward as possible, but when shooting work on a model (lifestyle shots) you will really have a chance to reflect your brand values.
Website: This is another fantastic opportunity to clarify your values using words, photography, animations, and sound.
Blog: What you choose to blog about speaks volumes about your brand, as do your tone of voice and writing style.
Newsletter: The same goes for your newsletter, if you have one.
Studio location: Whether part of an artistic residential neighbourhood or in a swanky, commercial end of town, your studio location says much about your company.
Choice of fairs and stockists: Being seen in the right places does wonders for your reputation. Make sure they are right for your work and your brand.
Speaking voice: Do you address your customers formally or more casually? Do you project businesslike confidence, chirpy charm, or are you calm and collected?
Personal presentation: Convey your values through what you wear and how you present yourself. Treat your appearance as another extension of your creativity