Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Business End: Mooving Forward

I've been spending a lot of brain power lately thinking about upgrading a lot of the elements of my shop/business. Some time ago I started trying to take more uniform pictures of my items. Before I had varied locations and so-so lighting, resulting in an unconnected feeling. My more recent items have been photographed in the same location, only in good lighting, and sitting on the same stool. There are a few exceptions (such as the chair that didn't fit on top of the stool), but I'm making an effort. The photos are relatively sparse - the less I "personalize" the photos, the easier it should be for customers to envision the items in their own homes. (Like staging a home to be sold, right?) I've also been thinking harder about my packaging and presentation when the items are on their way to my customers. This isn't to say I just threw items into a box when I first started, but I've been trying to pay more attention to the wrapping. Isn't it great when you feel like you're receiving a gift in the mail? I had nearly always "gift wrapped" the pieces, but adding the customer's name adds that extra personalization.
I've been using kraft paper to wrap a lot of my items, replacing the newsprint I had been using. I like using newspaper, but sometimes it's a little too busy for my taste. I'll still use the classifieds (small print) if it makes sense for the item, and (contrary to what I said about newspaper being busy) sometimes I'll use the comics pages if that fits the item better.
Since I'm using fairly plain, neutral paper, I've wanted to be able to easily add something with my shop name. I've gathered several N, D and B printers blocks in a variety of fonts, and I think I should be able to stamp my shop's initials on the kraft paper as a subtle reminder of the shop. It's also in keeping with the simple and vintage feel.
Today I browsed on Etsy, hoping to find items I'd been inventing in my brain. Happily, I found some excellent tape products that will spice up the presentation.
I also found a shop that would be able to personalize my shop's name and address. Self-inking, no less. I'm looking forward to stamp-stamp-stamping all over my packaging materials.
In addition to the presentation of the orders once they arrive, I'm trying to create an atmosphere, a brand, a feeling that communicates much more than I can convey with my item descriptions and the shop announcement. I want the feeling to be relaxed, in a natural and neutral environment. I'm slowly working on bringing my shop banner, blog banner, and any marketing materials into alignment to all work towards one brand.
One of the more recent actions I've taken towards building this brand is really exciting for me - I ordered Moo minicards. They should be arriving any day now. I am so thrilled I've been waking up at night thinking about them, daydreaming about them during conversations, and generally hopping around in anticipation. The 8 pictures I've scattered through this post are the ones I uploaded to the Moo site to use on the front side of my cards. They're roughly half handmade (pottery) and half vintage. On the back will be my shop name, shop address, blog address, and my tagline (inspired by nature, supplied by nature, with a pinch of vintage). If the cards turn out well, I may order their postcards as well, to use as my "letterhead" for the note I include in each order. The text on the back of the card is in a typewriter font. I struggled with which font to choose. Up until now I had been using Harrington on my cards, letterhead and electronic images. But seizing the opportunity brought about by running low on cards and letterhead, it's time to upgrade. Moo had a limited number of fonts to choose, and the typewriter font seemed the best for my shop. So I'll be changing over all the other elements to match, slowly as I have time. And the shop stamp I ordered has the typewriter font as well. Are there other things that you, gentle reader, do to make your brand cohesive? This has been a lot of fun, and now is my window for change.

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