Shop Branding on Etsy: What Every Seller Needs to Know
If you shop on Etsy often, chances are that you have plenty of choices for common items. Even for more niche products, a keyword search frequently returns dozens, even hundreds, of options. Besides the results page position, which items do you want to look at first? For many of us, it’s the listing that we find appealing. Likewise, you may ignore something that seems “boring.”
But what makes a listing appealing? Besides Etsy SEO, quality photographs, and the right price, the difference is often your shop’s branding. Simply put, branding distinguishes your shop and its products from the competition. Effective branding can help sell your listing instead of a nearly identical rival product. It can even help turn a single-transaction buyer into a regular customer.
Clearly, branding is important if you want to grow your Etsy shop. Both initial sales and repeat customers help boost your sales and profits. However, as a shop owner, you’ll need to design and implement your branding carefully. That’s because your shop’s brand is its identity. From there, you can concentrate on making or curating items for your shop.
Here are the steps you should take to build and maintain a successful brand.
1. Define your brand
Before doing anything else, decide what’s special about your shop and products. The second part is especially true for handmade items, as they reflect your personality and creativity. For materials and vintage items, the branding should reflect your values as a shopkeeper. For example, if you make environmentally sustainable products, use branding themes consistent with this goal.
Telling customers what to expect from your store is called a brand promise. Many companies tout high-quality products, environmentally friendly materials, and great customer service. The components of your store’s brand promise are up to you, of course.
Another aspect of brand promise (or definition) is who you sell products to. Marketers call this a “buyer persona.” One example might be a 40-something male who loves video games. Or, you could target new parents who want to buy the best for their five-year-olds. Brand promises apply most clearly to your target audience because your products are made or curated for them.
Finally, think about what words should describe your brand. Is it “quirky and fun” or “traditional, yet trendy?” These words help differentiate your brand from competitors – and help attract the right customers to your shop.
2. Decide on a color palette
How can you tell one global brand from another without reading anything? There are several answers, but the color palette is often a good indicator. For instance, in the United States, there are two major retailers that sell nearly everything nationwide. These are Target and Walmart. If you look at their outdoor signage, you first notice their color logo: Target’s is red and white, while Walmart chose blue and yellow. In addition, in-store displays use those colors as much as possible.
Here’s the thing: If you walk into one of those stores without seeing the exterior sign, you’ll quickly realize where you were. This is why your brand color palette is so important.
Luckily, picking the right colors is relatively easy. Pick a color that best describes your brand’s personality and message. Then, find a complementary color that makes sense. To continue our Target example, the logo is literally an archery target, with the rings in red and white. This is close to what you’ll see on a real target, except that the lines are usually black. The choice of red with the logo makes you think of something that’s perfect – for a great price.
Choose your colors carefully: you’ll use them on almost everything in your shop.
Check out this article by graphics design software Canva for more color tips.
3. Decide on other visual design elements
As an Etsy seller, chances are that you have a great sense of style and design. As part of your shop branding, there are other aspects of design that you need to determine. Large companies have style guides for branding, which include everything from logos and their use all the way to fonts. These documents help ensure consistency across everything that represents the brand.
Although an Etsy shop isn’t as complicated as a national brand, you still need consistency. For that, you’ll need to use the same fonts. Choose a mixture of decorative and plain fonts depending on your brand’s personality.
Generally, a plain font is easier to read, while the script and decorative fonts look nice. Therefore, a brand that sells men’s accessories or model kits will use plain fonts almost exclusively, while a shop with vintage lace will use more decorative writing.
No matter what fonts you pick, be sure to keep your main text easy to read. Use any “fancy” fonts for emphasis and decoration, such as your shop banner or needed text on photos.
Likewise, design a shop logo that reflects your brand identity. These should be relatively simple since Etsy doesn’t give you a lot of space for it on your shop page. In addition, you may decide to use the logo as a watermark for your photos. Several tools, like this one, can help you create a nice logo.
Finally, think about your photography. While it’s easy to think that product photos should display the item, there are ways in which you can add branding. For instance, you can put things in the background that reflect your brand identity. Or, you can add a branded-color background during the photo editing process. Even the main content of your pictures can match the brand – think outdoor clothing brands that depict their products being worn outside.
4. Tell your brand’s story
By now, you should have defined your brand and put together some basic branding features. However, the usefulness of these items is minimal unless you know how to tell the story. Ultimately, many customers fall in love with a brand because of its story. They’ll often buy more stuff and spread the word when appropriate.
Besides a great logo, you’ll want another important piece of visual branding: a shop banner. This is the picture you see at the top of many Etsy shops, and it helps people remember that they’re in a particular shop. To make a great banner, consider featuring some of your best products. Another option, especially useful for vintage shops, is a scene or collage representing the type of products you sell and their period. Just be sure to avoid other company logos, as this can get you in trouble with trademark or copyright restrictions.
With products being the center of your brand, it’s important to showcase some of them. One of the easiest is by leveraging featured products. These show at the top of your shop page and should be the best your shop offers. Ideally, they will entice shop visitors to check out everything else. You’d be amazed how much browsing can increase the final order value! Don’t just set and forget these, though. You should rotate the featured items and have a queue that adds an item when one sells out.
Finally, use video as a way to introduce your shop. Because they are the shop’s most important material, many successful Etsy sellers post an introductory video of themselves. In it, they’ll often indicate what they offer and why. Similarly, you can introduce the shop. Here, you can talk about your products. Show footage of the product being made or showcase shop operations in another way (such as a stock-up trip). The video technique helps bring your brand to life so it’s no longer an impersonal entity.
Also, don’t forget to add your photograph under your seller profile. Like with the videos, you’ll help build a connection with your customers.
5. Remember that packaging makes a difference
As a buyer, it’s easy to tell which shops care about their individual products and which ones don’t. For instance, inexpensive products usually have very plain packaging with little more than the required information. Similarly, if you buy something secondhand on eBay, you’ll probably get it in a plain shipping box. If it’s fragile, sellers will add enough protection for the item to not break in transit.
By contrast, if you buy something nice from the original shop or an authorized reseller, there will be a lot of branding. For instance, the items may be wrapped in branded tissue paper or in paper consistent with brand colors. Some brands will even seal the paper with a branded sticker.
While you might not have money for completely custom packaging, there are ways to add branding. For instance, sticker seals are inexpensive to buy, and so is tissue paper off the rack. Similarly, you can get specialty packaging like cardboard jewelry boxes very inexpensively. Not only do these items make you look more professional, but they also help reinforce your branding.
Consider adding a shop business card or a thank-you note for an even more memorable customer experience. A bonus with these items is that your customer might keep them for future reference. Even if they don’t keep the item, seller gratitude is a powerful tool for making your brand memorable.
6. Provide great customer service
Do you dread calling customer service at the average company? Most of us do. We typically call because we have a problem with a company’s products or services or when we need information. Sitting on the phone for a while quickly gets on our nerves, too. Eventually, poor customer service (or waiting too long for help) erodes our opinion of a brand.
Don’t let this happen to your Etsy shop. Instead, respond to Etsy messages as soon as possible. Combined with other customer service-related tasks like shipping on time, great customer service helps you get star seller status. And sellers with that status often have higher sales than the competition in their niche.
Similarly, you should set expectations upfront. Fill out your store policies section, as this will answer many questions right away. Plus, having a policy for returns and other common scenarios will help prevent disputes later – or solve them faster when necessary. Best of all, avoiding unpleasant surprises on both sides makes everyone happier.
Think about it: When you have a choice where to buy something, do you go to the store with uncertain policies and rude staff or the one where everyone is nice, helpful, and consistent with set policies? Most people prefer the friendly shop.
Shop branding on Etsy may seem like a daunting task. After all, it requires several moving parts and some careful planning. However, it’s well worth the effort because you’ll better differentiate your shop and its products from the competition. Plus, you’ll set customer expectations and (often) convert them to frequent buyers. Over time, these techniques will help your shop grow.
Isn’t that what we all want?