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Branding for makers

For makers – jewellers, potters, clothing designers, and the like – it can be argued that your creations are your brand. So it’s important that your brand identity makes your work sing without singing over it.

At the centre of a strong brand is authenticity. If you make things, chances are those things are an authentic reflection of some part of yourself — and they can be photographed and shared. This can give you an edge that non-makers may not have: your character has already been translated into something that can be seen.

1418 earrings and care card design
1418 Jewellery brand identity by Emily Stevens Studio

So, designing a brand identity for a maker is a gentle process. Your designer needs to present your work in the best light, then build on it gracefully.

Here’s my advice for achieving that:

  1. Bring your work to the forefront. Whether you make sculptural earrings or functional ceramics, they should be within the central imagery you show to your audience. There may be less of a need for your brand designer to create additional graphic elements, like patterns or illustrations. If these are created, they shouldn’t overpower or clash with the visuals of your own work.
  2. Create a strategy and process for presenting your work beautifully. That could mean hiring a photographer who does all of your shoots in a consistent style. Or, if you post photos of your pieces to Instagram on an ad hoc basis, it could mean establishing a process to achieve high quality, on-brand shots.
  3. Type talks. Typography is one of the most powerful tools for visually expressing your brand character. As a vessel for language, it tends to affect us more subconsciously, so don’t underestimate its power. Strong type choices are less likely to compete with your own creations, but will absolutely complement them.
  4. Use colour cleverly. Much like patterns or illustration, ensure your brand colours don’t overpower or clash with your work. This doesn’t mean every maker needs to have a black, white, or beige colour palette — it just means your designer should be clever with their use of colour. That could mean using colours that are consistently used in your pieces. Or it could mean paring back the usage of colour in certain contexts.
  5. Work with a designer who thinks strategically. If you’re a small business, independent designers and small studios are likely the best for your budget. But ensure they aren’t merely aesthetics-driven, and can help you launch your brand with confidence. The last thing you want is to pay for a brand identity that isn’t practical to implement in your day-to-day, or isn’t aligned with your business practices. A brand is a living and breathing thing that should be built with the future in mind.

As a maker, your brand identity is all about lifting the gorgeous work you already do. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way. If you need the help of an expert in building strong brands for makers, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Journal Entry: branding for makers