This week is all about creating a buzz out there to your audience, hence the bee picture that I took on yet another grey day in Yorkshire (when will the rain ever end?!).
So, how do you create that buzz around your products or your brand new business when you’ve taken that mini-leap from it being a hobby? It’s all in the branding and name creation which I believe is absolutely essential in order to get noticed and stand out from the increasingly crowded marketplace.
I’ve been thinking about this more after I met Sara Tasker last week at an event which was part of the Woven Festival currently going on across Kirklees.
Sara of @me_and_orla Insta fame has gone on to create many business streams from her work including her best-selling book Hashtag Authentic and podcasts, ‘Hashtag Authentic’ and ‘Letters from a hopeful creative’ that she records with her friend Jen Carrington as well as Instagram Retreats, teaching others how to get the most out of those little squares!
Sara’s fabulous debut book Hashtag Authentic and me being a bit of a fan-girl!
Sara started her Instagram journey when she was on maternity leave and with a chronic health condition that means she needs to rest a lot during the day. Her social life and connection to the outer world became her phone and she set up her account as a way to initially just connect with other mothers. Creating small snapshot images of beauty in her home or out on a walk became a creative focus for her whilst still in the fuzz of life with a new-born.
The result? People connected with Sara in their droves and six months in, after having a goal of 1000 followers in a year, she hit 35k followers and is now on a staggering 216k (current figure).
Previously working with children with special needs in speech therapy, she credits this experience of helping children to connect and communicate via images to having a positive impact on her success now.
Sara was as eloquent and knowledgeable in real life as I imagined her to be from her book which showcases her gorgeous photography but is also exquisitely written. She says her first love was always writing rather than photography and that is evident in the poetic writing of her story.
Her name and brand is now synonymous with Insta success and she’s clearly worked hard on her ‘voice’ and consistency of her images and raises the question of why is this so important for people to connect with you and become possible customers?
Coming from a long marketing and PR background, I know that it is crucial but it’s also a difficult one to explain, and a huge area to cover in just one blog post but let me try and at least introduce the topic and some pointers.
We all have our brand favourites; the one’s that stand out to us and that can be for a huge variety of reasons such as, experience of their products, catchy advertising, current trend, reliability, credibility, attractive imagery, a memorable name, their community/worldwide values or simply just a ‘feeling’ or memories they give you.
But how does branding work for you and why should you have one? For Sara, it didn’t start out as a potential business, her brand was just inherently ‘her’ and for me and I think for creatives starting out, if they want to potentially turn it into a future business, this is what lies at the absolutely heart of your brand, simply YOU.
Your personality and passion feeds into to your creativity and your work and thus it’s that that needs to be captured and celebrated, YOU are your own unique selling point so it’s time to drill down what makes you special and different from everybody else.
This can be a difficult process as it’s not always our default setting to be bigging ourselves up or getting to the crux of our individuality but it’s a really important exercise when creating a brand.
As the great Sir John Hegarty says (on the Conversations of Inspiration podcast by Holly Tucker), ‘People don’t buy from businesses, they by from brands.’ basically meaning that your brand is the most important thing and the first point of contact with you, before they go on to potentially purchase.
So, what is a brand and how do you get one? The Business dictionary describes it is as this:
A unique design, sign, symbol, words or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumers mind. Thus, brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace by standing for certain beliefs and value.
That may sound quite complex, but essentially broken down, it is a name turned into a logo / image, easily recognised as YOU, your values and what you’re offering.
When I created The Curious Creative Club, I realised it was a slight mouthful but I wanted words in there that I really identified with and that summed up what it was about, it needed to encompass a lot of things and couldn’t be a narrow offering such as just being associated with writing or art.
The original drawing – ‘shake the tree’ then incorporated into my website heading with photography background and followed through on social media, business cards and events headings for consistency.
Originally, I wanted just The Curious Creative, but that was already taken but by adding in ‘Club’ it’s actually made it more of a community, which is again what I’m all about so it works for me.
In terms of image, I don’t necessarily have a ‘proper’ designed logo as such but I have kept it consistent, using the images above created by me to link to my website which is where I really want to drive people to access all the other areas of my work – the website is the mothership for me with everything else branching off – see what I did there? Always a tree link!
The imagery though still links my 3 passions together – the photographic background that then turns into the tree drawing and my play on alliteration with ‘The Curious Creative Club’ – and the byline – ‘A haven for curious creatives, just like me’ – reveals my love of words and sense of wanting to create a community.
The drawing of the tree symbolises a mantra I use all the time ‘Shake the tree’, meaning if you want something to happen in life you’ve got to take action, not wait for the apple to fall.
My pet hate of any branding is to simply have your own name, apologies out there is that it you it’s just a personal thing but to me it lacks originality and removes the chance to let your imagination run wild and reveal your character, but I suppose there are instances where it can work if you have a unusual or memorable name.
For example, if I was looking for a plumber, I’d much rather go with 24/7 Emergency Plumber (not hugely imaginative but at least tells me what it is) than RGB Services (which tells me nothing!).
That’s a pretty basic example but below are 2 stories from creative people and how they came about choosing their name that I love;
Rachael from Magpie Design
An example of one of Rachaels gorgeous designs and her Magpie Design Logo
For as long as I can remember I’ve always loved to paint, draw, have taken far too many photos and been mad about surface pattern and interiors.
When out and about in shops, galleries or on a walk, I would often say to myself, ‘right, let’s magpie!’. I’d set about buying or collecting special and interesting bits and pieces like a magpie does, and bring them together as inspiration for my designs. When I decided that all this creativity needed a home, I set up my design company and fittingly named it Magpie Design, and I use #letsmagpie on my social media accounts.
You can find her @magpiedesignuk (on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter)
Alex from recent new shop Fenellas, Vintage & Retro
Here’s her first post on Instagram explaining her business and the name Fenella’s:
Now is it just me, or do their back stories of how their brands came about have way more impact and insight into these fascinating and interesting people? Just from these stories alone, we get a snapshot view into their character and the fact they’ve taken the time to really think about their business, not only what it represents in terms of products but also how much they care about it, the history and that they clearly have a passion for their subject matter and products.
It gives their business more depth and soul and we can relate to them as members of our community and it all makes good business sense.
As Levi Roots (of Reggae Reggae sauce fame) said on a recent interview – ‘People buy from. people, and the product comes second.’
That’s why it’s so important to put your all into you brand, make it all about you and what you represent. And of course you can have really good fun with it, remember you are a creative after all!
I’m sure your head is full of ideas, so get them all noted down and then do your research, make sure someone else hasn’t had the same idea (especially on social media platforms), see what it sits next to on google searches, make sure you won’t get tired of saying it over and over again when talking about it.
Also go ahead and test it with friends and family, they may suggest a few positive tweaks, but don’t let them completely overrule your idea if you feel in your gut that it’s right, it’s YOUR business and you know it best.
With the rise of Social Media, branding is more important than ever and that’s a whole other topic to get into but if you are just starting and want some insider knowledge and support, I can highly recommend getting Sara’s book. Not only does it really help to get your head fully around the Instagram world – which by the way is where you need to be, especially if you are a visual creative and make things, but her story is truly inspirational too and will want to make you work doubly hard!
I hope this has been a useful slight introduction to branding but I know this is a huge topic and one I may dip into from time to time if it helps those who are moving from hobby to small business idea.
I still have a lot to learn too but I’ve enjoyed writing about this because I love the process of creating a brand, it’s an exciting time – like naming a new puppy and don’t let the terminology scare you or put you off, it’s actually a fun process I promise and helps you nail down what you’re all about and the clearer your focus and vision, the more chance of success your small business has.
If this has been helpful, please do let me know in the comments, it really helps me to head in the right direction and write about subjects that you enjoy and support you on your creative journey.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps Did you know it’s independent bookshop week? If you’re a book lover, try and support these local small businesses that often have great events going on too. We had a new one open up in Holmfirth this year and it’s just fabulous, it’s called Read and if you live anywhere near, it’s well worth a visit! I’ve recently picked up my next creative read from there, see below….
PPs News has just come out about the 2020 BBC’s Countryfile Calendar Photography competition if you’re a photographer and fancy entering, the deadline is 12th July and just click on the link for more info.
PPPs Our next WOW Wednesday is this week, 19th June, we had a great turn out at the last one, for more information and about future event dates, please click here.
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