Before jumping right in, I want to take some time to mention that this is the second post of our series. To get caught up make sure to read our first post: “How to Start an Online Store.” That post gives a birds-eye-view on how to get started so please check it out.
Okay, so BRANDING. Can we all admit that although branding can seem so easy but when you actually get started you’re often thinking “What the heck am I supposed to be doing?” Right? I have struggled with this in the past and I have had several of my colleagues struggle with this topic. Without a solid foundation, getting started can actually become a lot of stop and go. Branding shouldn’t be that hard but for some reason it can be. Thankfully, I have compiled a list of branding basics for you to get done to finally check off branding from your list.
If you remember from the “How to Start an Online Store” blog post, I told you guys to have three questions answered before getting started.
- What you are selling?
- Who is your brand?
- Who are you selling to?
I’ve created a fill-in page for you guys to download along with a checklist to print out and work as you go! Make sure to get that; there is a link at the bottom of this post.
After you have those things answered, there will be five key things you will need to get done.
A little motivation ❤
Don’t feel required to have something mom-related! I think it’s always challenging to remove ourselves from our identity as moms. But if you have something super cool in mind but you’re afraid that the audience isn’t there well don’t worry about it! If you’ve thought about it, odds are someone else has too. Nothing better will sell then something you are passionate about. With that said, here are your five steps to branding your new business.
This one is super easy and super obvious but it’s important and your first step. Once you are definite about the name, you can knock everything down easily! Keep in mind when choosing a name, this will be the first impression of your company. When someone is scrolling through your Instagram or website, they will first look at the handle so keep it cool and most importantly keep it simple! Don’t make things hard on people because you want to be unique. Keep your products and your aesthetic unique. The name is not a place for you to try to outsmart people – if it’s too hard people will ignore it and move on to the next.
Once you’ve figured out a name – make sure your domain is available. If you’re running tight in your budget, this step is optional but honestly buying a domain is not that expensive (around $12/year on GoDaddy). But if you are in a more serious stage in your business then having your own domain is essential. Having a “.com” will make your business look more professional.
It’s also important to know your limitations, so if you just want to see where this goes and you want to get as much done for free as possible then skip purchasing a domain. However, make sure to get other things registered with your name. For example, get your email and sign up for all your accounts using that email to keep everything consistent. You can also register a domain under your e-commerce platform for free. So, if you decide to use TicTail (my starter favorite), you can set up a “Shop Handle” and you will receive a specialized link from TicTail for you store.
That domain is free but you have to make sure it’s available. So decide on a name, get an email address with that name, then register your e-commerce account domain.
Download the PDF below so that you can print this out at home and keep it in your business binder to track your progress!
This step is usually glossed over because it’s not an actual representation of your brand but YOU HAVE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS LEGALLY! Am I right?
You have to think of this as a business and in order to operate you need two things:
- Seller’s Permit
- EIN (for tax purposes)
In order for you to sale items (and gain profit) you need to have a seller’s permit! This is required for any business in the United States, conducting transactions for a period longer than 90 days. You can get yours at your state’s Board of Equalization website. A seller’s permit is a state license that allows you to sell items at the wholesale or retail level and to issue resale certificates to suppliers. Issuing a resale certificate allows you to buy items you will sell in your business operations without paying amounts for tax to your suppliers.
Secondly, you need a EIN which stands for Employer Identification Number. An EIN is needed for filing your taxes, opening a business bank account and for applying for a business license. Getting an EIN is not required for all business so check out the requirements on the IRS’ website and see if you fall under any. You may just want one to keep your finances separate from your personal – maybe getting a business bank account is one of your goals.
Finally, the fun part! Branding requires you to niche down as narrow as possible. So in this step, you’ll want to get these steps done:
What is a niche? Your niche will be your audience and what you are providing them. So basically, it’s your targeted group of potential customers. Think about your audience and what you want to sell to them – think as narrow as possible.
You could sell quotes on t shirts but that’s so broad; a better idea would be to sell t-shirts with motivational quotes to women in college. Here, we have identified what you’re providing (motivation), to who (women) and their demographic (college students).
Next, colors. This is one of my favorite parts in building a brand. After your name, the color scheme that you choose will be most important for grabbing your audience’s attention. You can also refer to this as a color scheme, aesthetic or theme.
✨PRO-TIP✨ Get some inspiration from Pinterest by searching any of those key terms. Here are some examples that I found by searching “color schemes:”
✨PRO-TIP2✨ Search for “HEX” colors and right down the codes for the colors you like. This will make it easier in the future to keep things cohesive. Make a document or note on your computer/phone with all the codes you like!
After you choose a cohesive color scheme, you can work on the last part of this step. Create a logo! Make sure to create a logo that is consistent with everything that you have decided this far. So, it should have the same aesthetic, make sense with your niche, and have your name or a variation of it.
Last on our list is creating a product list. Now that you know what you’re giving to your audience, you have to know what you’re selling to them. So let’s go back to the college student example. A good idea would be to sell coffee mugs to women in college. Why? Because they might need some motivation during their long nights studying; and what’s going to keep them up all night? Coffee!
See where I’m going with this?
The products you sell and what you provide is essential to your company’s brand because it tells a story for your company. It will also help you relate to your audience by knowing them completely. You know, a college students needs motivation and you know they need a boost of caffeine so what are you going to do? Provide them with a solution! Tell a story. Literally, tell yourself a story. Go back to the first questions on branding:
What you are selling?
Who is your brand?
Who are you selling to?
Every time you create a new product or are considering adding one, answer those questions and see if it makes sense. If you are trying to force it then it’s probably not for you or your brand. Move on to the next.
Go to your drop-shipper’s website (in our case Printful), and check out their product lists. Skim over your options and see what you might be interested in adding to your store. I suggest choosing your top THREE products that you are interested in having on your store. Don’t go over board and want to have everything. I would even suggest starting with only ONE product and working your way up once you’ve mastered it. It’s better to have one AMAZING product than to have a bunch of mediocre ones. Trust me, you have a better chance of selling something if it’s top quality.