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Branding for makers

August 2021
Illustration with jewels and vase

For makers – jewellers, ceramicists, clothing designers, and the like – your creations are the cornerstone of 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.

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

Here are my best tips 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 your own work.
  2. Create a plan for presenting your work excellently. 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 routine and process to get quality 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 you should be clever with your 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. Think conceptually and strategically. Aesthetic and creative decisions should be backed by a bigger idea or story you want to tell (concept), as well as a consideration of your bottom line and the day-to-day running of your business (strategy). In order to tackle this task effectively, it’s always best to partner with a professional brand designer who understands how to build upon who you are and what you do.

Emily Stevens is a brand, graphic, and web designer based in Aotearoa New Zealand, working with worldwide clients. Get in touch at studio@emilystevens.co.