Branding. What is it? Is it necessary? Can your business still be successful without it? As someone who is creative rather than artistic I would like to think yes, one can be successful without it. However, two years in to my own creative journey, I'm going to tell you that branding goes a long way.
At a really simplistic level, it makes you recognisable to others. The logo you use, the colours you prefer, the font you type in, they all have an impact on people's perception of your business and, in all likelihood, will influence their purchasing decision. At this point I'm going to clarify that I am not a marketing expert, not at all. I'm a science teacher with a degree in animal behaviour and welfare who accidentally set up a handmade and creative market. Branding is something I really, really struggle with but, through observation, experimentation and learning from my own mistakes I feel like it is something worth discussing. Not to mention that today is #marchmeetthemaker Day 4: Branding.
As a creative person I have, mostly through trial and error, created a brand The Handmade and Creative Market. I also dedicate a minimal amount of time to my fun, handmade fashion brand 'Licclefreak Loves' and, with absolutely no branding at all, make leather goods under the name 'Bramble Leather'.
The Handmade and Creative Market, originally Norwich Creative Market, was set up as an outlet to sell my own leather goods. I booked a space, put out some ads for stallholders and absolutely didn't expect anyone to want to exhibit. 40 people booked into that first event (Thank you!) and, 20 months later, our small creative community had grown to over 120 exhibitors, taking over the whole St Andrews Hall complex. In that time my branding has changed massively.
This is my first ever flyer. I think I designed the whole thing on the free version of Canva and made those pastel marble overlays in MS Paint - Anyone who went to high school in the nineties will know how to fill a day making patterns in MS Paint! Looking at it now, I don't hate it, I just don't love it either. Pastels were also my first mistake. Little did I know that pretty RGB colours are absolutely DESTROYED by the CMYK printing methods used by most printing companies. My sugary flyer with 80's vibes and a subtle nod to crafting was a dingy disappointment but, because I didn't really know what to do to make it better, I stuck with it for 3 events.
Wanting to include the work of exhibitors on the posters and flyers, something a number of experts have since told me is a really bad idea, I gradually moved over to something which looked like this.
Looking back I absolutely should have stuck with the original a bit longer. However, at that point I knew the style of the flyers absolutely didn't fit the style of the exhibitors or the majority of the shoppers that were visiting. I knew I needed a logo, a proper one, something that was in closer keeping with the older audience, something more professional. During 2018 I was lucky enough to meet Becca Lynn who designed my first proper logo and the poster for our February event.
I really loved the poster but knew it wouldn't be suitable throughout the year. I kept the logo, font and the blue and pink throughout 2019 but the print colours still weren't great and I still wanted to include exhibitor work on the advertising materials - it's why people come to visit after all.
With 2020 rapidly approaching I the branding needed a proper overhaul. I was moving to a new location, The Venue in Holt, and knew I wanted to run a smaller artisan market that I knew would attract a predominantly 35+ market. Becca Lynn redesigned my logo, keeping the fonts, changing the colours. After a series of proper business and marketing advice meetings I was told to keep it simple. My plain background, simply informative flyer came out on top and I've decided to run with it. However, I still think it's all about the makers so I have a double sided thing with work from our regulars on the back. I also tried my best to use their photos that matched with the overall blue, yellow, green theme I used on the front. Typically, since making a decision, I've been told that 'colourful with white writing' works better and yes, I'm sure it does for some people. However, for the foreseeable future this is what I'm sticking with.
Want to know more about branding? Click back to the blog page to read part 2, developing a new brand.