Friday, May 24, 2013

Branding Your Art Based Business By Giftbearer; Contemporary Tribal Style Jewelry

Somebody recently asked me for some tips on branding and it got me thinking about just how to put into words how I've gone about branding my jewelry business. It is something that comes naturally to me so I thought it would be helpful to others to elaborate on what exactly it entails.

You Are Your Business;
For those of us who are sole proprietors and especially true of artists, we are our business. What this means is that your business reflects who you are; your colors, your values, interests, and most of all your style. In order to sell your products you need to attract like-minded customers who appreciate what you have to offer enough to pay you for it.

Set a Mood; Create an Ambiance Around Your Business;
When I started my business I knew that I wanted it to reflect a tribal feel yet not primitive and not too traditional. I created several taglines which a use interchangeably to get customers to remember my unique brand.  "Contemporary Tribal", "Anything but Primitive", Tribal is Beautiful...And it Just Keeps Getting Better, and "High-end Indigenous Jewelry", are all short phrases that describe in a nutshell what customers are buying when they purchase my work.

Use Fonts, Shapes and Colors in Your Work and in Your Pictures Reflecting Your Target Market;
Since I had decided to go with the tribal theme which reflects my roots I kept that in mind when choosing the font for my Etsy banner, business cards, and other promotional material.

I use traditional tribal symbols in my work such as the triangle/arrow shaped earrings you see above "Sacred Spearheads" , but give my pieces a posh look that will appeal to people who like fine jewelry.

When people think of the concept "Tribal" they usually think of opaque materials such as Turquoise, Coral, bone, horn, and in some cases, Spiny Oyster and Abalone shell, and I do use those in my jewelry, but I also use like colors in other materials such as the Apatite in the earrings shown above. Using Turquoise would have been too predictable, and it wouldn't have achieved such a pristine look as it has with Apatite.

The rich reddish brown, cream, and Turquoise in this stuffed necklace and the patterns on it are distinctly tribal as is the shape. The first pictures I took didn't quite hit the mark, so I re-photographed it on this deer hide with the fur still on.
In keeping with my tribal theme I take most of my photos outside in natural light whenever possible, often with a natural backdrop, although I take a number of my product photos on a white foamcore board such as this necklace.

Depending on the piece, some look better on white and other on a natural background such as this one;

I often photograph my jewelry to make it look like a living thing in its natural habitat. The Peridot cabochon in this ring seems to be camouflaged tucked in the crook of this plant's branch. I believe that everything has a soul, and jewelry is no exception.

Imagine what habitat your products would live in . If your style is steampunk you could photograph your items among some pipes, tools, nails, or even in a construction site or on some corrugated metal sheet.

If your style is Zen then use a very minimalist background. You may want to use props that mimic your design. I have often photographed leaf or vine jewelry among leaves, logs, sticks or branches.

I've seen some artists photograph or display their items at shows on a bed of dried rice, lentils, or peas.

Videos and Slideshows;
If you have a video camera or even just a still picture camera you can bolster your branding by creating videos or slideshows about your items. This provides a wonderful opportunity to get your brand out there and to reach people in a much more emotional and visceral way than words alone ever could. There are sites where you can find music that is offered for free use. In some cases you may have to pay to use it for commercial purposes, but many of the musicians let you use it for free just as long as you give them credit. Your video provides both you and the music artist promotion and can be beneficial to both of you.

Here is one I recently made with Windows Movie Maker, a free program that came with my computer. I decided to group my jewelry into several different slideshow videos. This one features some of my Sterling and Fine Silver jewelry. I chose some drum music to add dramatic effect. I was unable to add it to my blog from Youtube because there was a strange still photo of some other necklace that is not mine in its place but later found that I also had the option to upload it directly from my computer and that worked. When I had uploaded this video to Youtube there was a problem sending out notifications to my subscribers or sharing on social media via the buttons they provide, but I've reported it and have been just copying and pasting the URL when I want to share it on social media sites or using the other share buttons in my browser.

Youtube is great when it works, but you should be sure to always keep copies of your videos just in case you run into some of these problems.

Once you've set the scene for your products so that everything is targeted to the market you want to attract, then all you have to do is get out there and promote, promote, promote! You'll know your reaching your target customer when sales start to increase. This isn't always linear. There may be stops and starts, but you will find that gradually things will become steadier over time. When you promote, also try to think about places where your customer would frequent. Post links if those sites will let you, talk about what you do in forums, and in those places that won't let you promote directly choose an avatar that reflects what you do, and if possible put a link to your shop in your signature line.

It has really only been the past year or so that I've been finding the search term Giftbearer in my Etsy stats. That tells me that my branding is working!

If people remember the name of your business then that means your branding is having the desired effect!