Picture this: I’m strutting my stuff down the street when someone stops to ask me, “Where did you get that fabulous shirt and bag and jewelry?” I exclaim, devoted Etsian that I am, “Oh, how nice of you to ask! I got everything on Etsy.com!”
“Yes, but where can I get those particular pieces?”
[Sound of balloon deflating.] I fumble around in the bag and look for a label. I rack my brain to remember the name of the unsigned brooch pinned to my outfit. I hitch up my shirt, flashing the lady while peering into my collar looking for a tag. By the time my shirt is back performing its modest function, the lady has moved on. (New Yorkers are impatient and not impressed by nudity.)
While the above situation may be a bit exaggerated, this type of thing happens to me all the time. Just the other day in the Etsy office, Rockstarpoli (our office manager who gets to feel like Santa every day) was making the rounds with the boxes and packages that arrive with Admin’s fresh purchases. Alison, a.k.a. Teenangster, received some cool stationery and was passing it around. I flipped the card over, only to reveal a blank backside where I’d hoped to see the shop name. I was ready to pounce on that backside, dear sellers. I was ready to show you the money.
Why do some artists and crafters not label or sign their work? It should not be up to their customers to remember the shop name! It is hard enough to find that perfect something on Etsy — so why make it harder for shoppers to become repeat customers — or better yet, your biggest fans and viral marketers? As a small business, you don’t have a huge budget to get the word out about your shop. Who here is with me and considers this micro-brand suicide?
I mentioned this rant of mine to marketing guru Seth Godin, who responded with these simple questions a seller should pose to herself:
- When someone talks about you, what do they say?
- If they want to recommend you, can they?
- If they say, “Google this…” will the other person find you?
- The best marketing you will ever do is your product itself. Does it talk about you?
I posed these questions in the Etsy Forums. I’m not for huge logos all over everything, but I think of all handmade items as individually crafted works of art, and if painters sign their work, why don’t all makers? Why not add a label? What are your creative examples for labeling tiny objects or products with minimalist design? Share your techniques and opinions in the comments below.
To get us started, here are some creative solutions. Ingenious!
eyeful signs the back of her photographs and also includes an “artist card.”
Xenotees screen prints their labels directly onto their shirts, which is “time-consuming, in addition to printing the main design, but I find it is well worth it!” StacyBayless labels all of her children’s clothing to be in compliance with regulations. twostars321 makes labels for clothing and other cloth items.
magicjelly points out that it’s not “always possible or appropriate to permanently brand every single product — it really depends what it is. I brand everything I make and I have to say, having products for sale in B&M stores with your name and URL on them really drives a lot of attention your way. It’s so worth it.”
Jewelry and small items are especially tough to label. idreamicanfly adds, “Metalsmiths use a maker’s mark, which tends to be 1.5mm – 3mm tall. So you need a loupe (or a magnifying glass) to see it, and you’ll still need to figure out who that mark is registered to, which isn’t a quick process.” Elizabethjewelry developed a creative solution with her signature on the clasp of this piece, pictured above.
Paper goods are a great thing to brand — albeit discreetly. Here’s an example on the back of monkeyminddesign09‘s card. PrettyHairClippies adds, “I also include a blank thank you note card handmade by me as a free gift with every order. Since my shop address is stamped on the back of it, I am hoping that my shop name will get passed on to friends and family.”
oodlesofcolor, who has been working in the branding field for many years, says, “Have a memorable name, logo and overall consistent brand and it will be much easier for the buyer to remember where it came from.”
PrometheanPottery explains the tradition of ceramists’ signatures: “Most potters have a ‘chop’ (a wood or clay stamp) they impress into the bottom or side of their pottery before it’s completely dry. Others scratch or sign their name or initials into the piece. These can be quite attractive as the glaze runs into the crevasses. We decided to use identification of our pottery as an opportunity to add another element of design. So, before it’s glazed, I sign each pot with a mixture of oxides on the foot ring. During the firing, the oxides fuse with the clay and become permanent. I sign each pot with: RG Harris, emily jean, Promethean Pottery, and a number.” He jokes, “So, one day, some historian will be able to determine from the number what phase we were going through.”
Middleburg shares her inspired and artistic way of thinking about labeling: “I have signed every piece I make for the past four years now, not because of the brand, the logo or the copyright — but because it came from my hand and so does my signature. I love giving it that touch, but as I have to make more and more items, it has been suggested in the studio here that I go to a paper label so I just have to add the edition number. But it feels wrong. Even my fabric pieces carry handmade tags cut from extra muslin scraps and picking shears, it is something I never talk about in my listings and some pieces you have to be clever to find where the label is hidden, but it is always there.”
Sellers, give your customers hope that they will be able to find you again! Share your thoughts in the comments below.