How to brand your small business

newspaper barber sisterBritMums and Etsy have teamed up to inspire mums to start their own business and open their own Etsy shops, including a special discount for new owners: you can open your shop with 20 products for free!

We’re featuring cool crafts and inspiring creators. Here, the sisters behind DeKrantenkapper (Dutch for “Newspaper Barber”), a business all about paper and illustrations, tell how they used branding to get noticed and create their business’s “look”.

Lotte had ideas about working with textiles, trying to build her own business. Janneke just couldn’t detach herself from her computer while designing. The sisters didn’t make progress as sole makers — there was something missing. When Lotte asked Janneke to design a birthday calendar for her, they discovered co-working gave them a new direction. Almost three years later, business is booming.

Here is their advice:

The importance of branding

Having a successful shop requires a mix of different qualities, all followed by the very first thing noticed by viewers: branding. Great products are of course the most important ingredient for a stunning shop, but nobody will notice or spend time in your shop if it is not communicating a solid brand, a clear vision or a certain feeling.

We are fortunate to have complementary skills. One of us is the creative force and the other one has the business sense. If you’re working alone, we recommend asking others with different skill sets, to comment on your shop.

wrapping paper

How to find your branding

We believe a brand must be as close to you as it can be. This way it will be authentic, will make you stand out, and will be easy to maintain. It may require a high level of concentration, though, for it is so easy to get distracted by the other things. Discover what fits you best and stick to it.

Once you’ve done this, you can do quite a lot within the look and feel of your brand. For example, we wanted to make darker photos of our products related to the winter season. We were hesitant at first, because our entire shop was so bright. Eventually, we noticed that even these darker photographs communicated our brand quite well and we were amazed with the results. It’s great to have someone else who understands you and your brand and can genuinely keep you on track.

large paper design

Top 5 Tips for creating an Etsy shop with strong cohesive branding

  1. Keep it real
    Keep your branding close to you, your values and your vision. Communicate this visually. Etsy (and the entire internet) is all about images.
  2. Brand everything!
    Have fun designing all kinds of labels, wrapping paper, thank you cards, address stickers and other paraphernalia. Your brand should be reflected on every single thing that passes your hands, from your Etsy shop, to your packaging, and of course your products.
  3. Tell them how you rock
    Make sure your “About” page tells your story, and the conclusion of the story should be that there is no one else in the world that can sell and make your goods better than you. For example, if someone buys a letterpress postcard from you, tell them how you’ve held a life-long fascination for those upper- and lowercase lead characters. Don’t be afraid to get nerdy about your product.
  4. Be selective
    Be selective with the products you offer and make sure they form a cohesive shop. Of course you can venture into different product groups, but make sure they fit the overarching story you want to tell your customers. For us, our shop began with paper goods, hence the name, but after a while we also really wanted to try some screen printed products and decided to apply this to pencil cases and stationary. Your shop can grow and change, but keep the visual story straight.
  5. Stay on top of your brand, always
    Maintain your shop’s front page. Keep it tidy and ordered, and make it easy for your viewers to feel welcome.

Branding on a limited budget?

Approach everything creatively. Build a photo studio with a cheap roll of paper and aluminum foil reflection screen. For packaging and labeling, use things that are at hand rather than spending lots of money and turning the internet inside out for that one-of-a-kind packaging material. You can make simple things purchased from local stores quite special yourself.

Also: be flexible. Don’t stick to your pre-planned photographing session if the light isn’t working. Start working when the light’s good! Try to look at the things surrounding you in a different way and recycle anything you can use. We punch every scrap of cardstock that is left over from the production process into a nice little card shape, and when people want to test their stamps on them they’re in awe about the rounded corners on the beautiful card we have ready for them. Branding really is all about those small details.

Connect with DeKrantenkapper on Facebook, via Twitter on @krantenkapper, and on Pinterest.

All that inspiration, but no shop?

BritMums and Etsy have teamed up to inspire parents to start their own business and open their own Etsy shops. Etsy is offering a special discount that allows you to open your shop with 20 products for free. For more great craft ideas and canny tips for starting your own business, see our Etsy section or follow the hashtag #ProjectNewYear. Get 20 free listings when you open your first Etsy shop. After that, it costs only $.20 to list an item for four months.

Open Your Shop Too!

Read more about how to set up a business on Etsy and how other mothers have done it in our Etsy section


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