Branding in Your Millinery Business
I’m often surprised when people think that branding their millinery business is just about a graphic or logo. Yes, a logo is a big part of it but branding is actually so much more. It is woven into everything that you do.
The purpose of branding is to be recognisable, memorable and consistent in every action of your business, from the tone of an email to what people find when they see your Instagram page or one of your hat boxes. Branding sets expectations and brings a strong and positive bond between yourself and your millinery clients.
Branding sets you apart from your competition (or community as I prefer to say). It also sets your economic value, so make sure your brand reflects your pricing!
Millinery Branding: 4 Important Areas
Amongst others, branding includes the following 4 areas of your millinery business:
1) Your Personal Brand – How you dress and present yourself.
Do you ooze your brand and what you stand for? Every time you are physically with clients or meeting prospective clients, you are the biggest advertisement for your brand. If you don’t fit into what you’re selling there will be a disconnect between you and the products on sale. For me, I always try to wear an item of yellow clothing (as this is my brand colour), or a complementary tone, so that I work with the rest of my display. And I wear a hat. At the end of the day, you can’t expect people to purchase from you if you aren’t flying the flag for hat wearing yourself. I also dress smart and stylishly, demonstrating without words that I understand how to put an outfit together and that the clients can trust my style advice.
2) Your Communication – How you answer the phone or respond to emails.
If you want to push a luxury feel, you need to put time and effort into crafting your emails. If you want a fun and playful hat brand, have a friendly, cheery welcome and use humour. Whatever it takes to stay in line with your brand values. Add in “How are you’s” and thank people for their enquiries. Simple one liners won’t leave clients feeling like they’ve had a great experience, but a little extra thought goes a long way. And don’t leave it too long before responding. My rule is 24 hours unless it is a Saturday night or a Sunday, in which case I reply on Monday. (Answering at the weekends is acceptable if you want to, but be aware that it can open boundaries. Clients may think you are then attainable to them at all times. Scheduling your emails to be sent only during working hours can be useful for this!) If you know that you can’t reply for a few days, always use an out of office autoresponder to at least acknowledge the correspondence.
3) Your Online Presence – Your logo, your website and the text and images you publish on social media.
Your logo is so much more than a logo. It should set the colours for your millinery brand, determine the fonts that you use on your website and marketing materials and be clear and not overly complicated. Your logo should represent, in a visual manner, who you are and what you do. This doesn’t mean that you need to include a hat on your logo (or even the word millinery) but it does need to set the tone of luxury, fun, exclusivity, heritage or whatever your brand is targeted towards.
The way you speak or write about your business, on both your website and on social media, is very important, too. Don’t write something stiff and stuffy if, in real life, it doesn’t reflect you. Remember, people buy people so be the best version of you and people will buy! However you choose to use words in your business, be consistent across all platforms.
Imagery is massively important when you have a physical product. Luckily our products are beautiful which should make it easier for us to create great images. Just make sure your images are consistent and relevant. Use the same set-up and the same lighting to get a consistent edge. I even use the same model so that all images flow from season to season.
4) Your Packaging and Aftercare – The way you treat your clients after a sale.
How you deal with a client once they have bought from you is a big part of the brand experience, so make it memorable. Make sure that your hat boxes shout your millinery brand in both quality and design. (They are also awesome marketing tools when people see them out and about, so make sure they advertise for you!) If a hat was purchased for a special occasion, follow up afterwards to tell the client you were thinking about them. Make them feel special and memorable!
Communicating your Brand Values
Earlier in this blog series, I talked about communicating who you are and what your business is about, but set yourself rules on what you put out to the world to ensure a consistent front. Try to share images on social media that people will instantaneously recognise as yours. These are the building blocks of your millinery branding. Philip Treacy and Julian Garner both do this very well.
The more people see your brand, the more they will connect with you. If your branding isn’t consistently conveying the same message, how will prospective clients know what to expect from you? This doesn’t mean that you can’t take on work that doesn’t automatically fit your brand image, but you can be creative on what or how you share this with the world. Consider using filters or frames consistently, for instance, or watermarking your images.
Some Simple Ways to Check your Millinery Branding:
- Look at your Instagram page. Does everything on there honestly reflect the brand you are trying to build?
- Look at your logo on its own and also as part of your whole website. How does it make you feel? What does it make you think? Asking friends and family for their honest feedback can be useful for this one.
- Look at your website. Does the quality of the website represent the quality of your work and your pricing structure?
- Look at yourself when you are selling. Are you dressed and presented in a way which oozes your brand?
- Look at your packaging and fliers. Do they represent what you are trying to achieve with your brand?
Top Tips for Developing Visual Millinery Branding
If you don’t yet have a visual brand (logo, website, etc.) and are thinking about creating one, by the way, my top tips before going ahead are:
Top Tip 1:
Make sure your brand values are clear and defined before you commission anyone to design a logo or a website for you. Without brand values at the heart of your decisions, discord can easily happen. Any branding expert will need your brand values laid out in front of them to be able to create a visual brand that works timelessly for your requirements and that works for all aspects of your millinery business. This will stop you from getting carried away with an idea or theme just because it is pretty and will make you think more deeply about how it will reflect you and your brand.
Top Tip 2:
Make sure that you know how you will want to use the logo in the future. You don’t want to end up with a logo that doesn’t transpose easily into different situations. For instance, will it work online and in print? Will it work in black and white as well as in colour? Can it be cropped square for Instagram, etc.?
Going through the questions above should definitely give you some action points and ideas for improving your branding strategy. And if you want to take things further, my Milliners’ Planner (above) has some insightful questions set out to help you clearly define your brand values.
About the Author
I’m Beverley Edmondson and I’m a milliner and business mentor. I work directly with milliners and creatives mentoring them to help them reach their business dreams. I’m thrilled to write for the HATalk Blog, sharing some hints and tips for growing your millinery business. I’m here to remind you that you can be badass at your creative business!
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