I'm a bit hesitant to step out with a shop critique today, after all of the ruckus in the forums about fonts and banners. My goal here is to teach the basics of advertising and brand building; if you have the ability to implement these ideas in your shop, fantastic. If not, I'm not going to hold it against you. My shop does not meet all of my own branding standards; there is always work to be done, and there is always room for improvement. Our goal in this blog is to incrementally improve over time.
Today's seller is BridalJewelry4u, a small studio run out of Stuebenville, Ohio. Our seller was the first to contact me in the forums regarding a shop critique. BridalJewelry joined in September 2009; she first sold everyday jewelry before venturing out into wedding jewelry. I thought this was smart; she found a niche market that worked for her and has stuck with it. (Read her profile for the entire story.)
Previously, we discussed building a brand image - I'd like to talk about the elements that go into creating the overall brand. On Etsy, it is primarily banners, avatars, and tag lines.
At the most basic level, a banner should give your customer the name of your shop and some idea of what you stand for. BridalJewelry4u does give her name and a tag line for her shop. However, because of the layout of the banner, it is a bit hard to instantly obtain this information. We have to physically look to both the left and the right to get the information.
When designing a banner, keep in mind focal points. Our banners main focal point rests in the center of the banner, as shown below:
Focal points can also be to the left or to the right of the banner, also show below as black dots.
When using left or right focal points, make sure the eye is drawn to the point by natural lines, shown above as dotted lines. For example, Embe draws the eye to the left by using a brighter color on the left, a shadow with a line that flows to the left (see the flower stem shadow), and flowers on the right that curve naturally to the left. No matter where your eye might fall on the page, you are going to be sent directly to her shop name.
BridalJewlery4u should remove the rose from the center of the banner; it is the focal point of her banner, and the item least relevant to her shop. I recommend using the logo as a center-focal point, with designs on either side, such as CandaceKane.
As to whether or not to keep the rose theme, I'm divided. One one hand, it is a nice change from the over-used wedding symbols of veils, white, and dresses; on the other hand, it may not say enough about wedding jewelry. If the rose stays, it should be integrated throughout the shop. Shoot product photos by hanging earrings off of a rose bud or stem, or laying a necklace over top of a blossom. This is subtle branding that will help connect the rose to your shop. BridalJewelry4u might also be willing to change her avatar to one of the new photos, so that she can show her product through her avatar.
For avatars, there is some debate on Etsy whether to show a shop item or a brand logo. I recommend either. What I would avoid are generic pictures or pictures of yourself. I'm sorry, but most people look creepy that close-up! Let's see your logo or your handiwork before I see you. If you really want to show your picture, show it to me on your blog.
Finally, we get to the tag line. Currently, BridalJewelry4u has "Jewelry that will help you get ready for your special day." Good attempt, but we can write a message with more punch. To brainstorm, steal from poetry. Use rhymes, alliterations, and other literary techniques to pull together words. Creek Bed Threads has a great descriptive line - Pillows, Pouches, and Purses. A nice alliteration helps it flow smoothly, and you know instantly what she is selling. Flutterbudget has a nice tag line - "Vintage Made Modern." The best tags are usually three words or less, i.e. Just Do It. Open Happiness. Maybe it's Maybelline.
For BridalJewelry4u, even shortening the tag line and adding an alliteration can do wonders - i.e. "Designed with Your Day in Mind." That tag still needs a lot of work, but it has a bit more punch than before. BridalJewelry4u does have a great advantage in that she knows what her business stands for; if you are still in the business of not knowing what business you are in, I'd recommend you ignore the need for a tag line for awhile.
Small, little elements like focal points, short tags, and avatars can make a large improvement in the overall appearance for a shop. The trick is to know what changes to make, and to make then consistently, to improve the overall image of your brand.