A Case Study in Branding

Belinda's Throws Business CardThe toughest challenge a creative entrepreneur faces is in standing out among the crowd of other creative entrepreneurs to let their light shine. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with a quilter who goes by the name of @BelindasThrows on Twittter.

The First Lesson: Your Tag Line and Your Style

I gave her the first lesson on crafting a tag line and finding her style for free. I wanted to give her something immediately useful to her, something that she could walk away and begin sharing with others right then. So, I focused on the tag line and the style.

Overcoming Misconceptions

One of Belinda’s big problems was the idea that what she had to offer didn’t really fill a need. Here’s what she wrote:

“My husbands says it’s only a hobby, not a business. It doesn’t solve a problem. People don’t need a $100.00 quilt.”

I pointed out to her that her work did fill a need for a very specific group of people. The problem it solves is what to give someone for a present when they don’t want to just go buy another thing from a store or give away a gift card.

Calculating the Value You Offer

Belinda’s problem, as with many creative entrepreneurs, isn’t that what she has isn’t valuable. It’s that she doesn’t know how to value what she has to offer. She doesn’t know what it gives to her customers so she doesn’t know how to explain that value to a customer. She also hasn’t identified who will value what she’s offering most so that she can position herself properly in the market place.

Confusing Platforms with Products

I told Belinda that she also needed to consider expanding her product offerings. Quilts alone won’t allow her to build a business. She is relatively new to doing business online, so she told me she’d tried eBay, Pinterest, flea markets, and everything. I explained to her that those are platforms, or places where sales can take place.

Products are the items that you have to offer for sale.

Looking At Her Story

I wanted to get to the heart of her business, so I asked her why she got into making those quilts in the first place.

“I wanted to sew…but I didnt want to get into too much measuring and stuff like that…something simple, easy, and beautiful..because thats basically all that i have time for being a mother of 4… And 3 little ones at home. I made one, then 2, then 3, and so on and I started giving them away. Of course, then people would say, “Why aren’t you selling these?”

I asked her what it was about sewing that appealed to her.

“I really just like the idea love creating on a machine and doing it from home.”

She admitted she likes the feel of creating things, of making something out of nothing.

Choosing Her Audience

I knew if we were going to craft a good, solid message for her to use the next step needed to be choosing her audience. So I asked her to picture the kind of person that she would love to make these quilts for but that didn’t help. So I asked her to picture a specific, targeted, group of people.


“Moms”

Now it was time to focus on a specific category of people within that large group. I suggested creative moms since she’d mentioned earlier that she wanted clients who would appreciate her creative efforts.

“No.”

The veto of that idea was quick. She explained that creative moms were no more likely than she to have money to spend. She said most of the women who bought her quilts told her they wished that they had the time and the skill.

That led me to suggest that we focus on career moms, since they have more disposable income but are less likely to have the time to do something creative like make a quilt even though they appreciate the beauty of them.

Career Moms was the winner. We agreed they would be the least likely to have time to quilt but like to shop for thoughtful gifts.

Finding Her Message

I suggested, “Heart-felt gifts for career moms who are short on time but long on love.”
Belinda liked it. It’s short, reflective of the work she puts into them, and generic enough to allow her to expand her offerings from quilts to other products eventually.

The Style That Defines the Brand

I mentioned creating a style. She said she didn’t have one. I told her we were about to change that. I asked her to choose three words that described her personality. After a few dozen rounds of running through words that she might use to describe herself, we settled on “cheerful, bright, and enduring”

Color Coding the Brand

Belinda's Theme
I then asked her what her favorite colors were so we could match the words with colors that reflected those ideas. She mentioned sunflowers during our conversation, so I chose a yellow. She then added purple, sea green, light green, and coral.

It took us a bit to get to the actual color scheme she wanted to use, and she ended up eliminating the light green altogether, but what we worked out works well together.

Designing a Business Card

Having worked out the majority of what was needed, it was time to put together a simple business card for her, one that she could then use to promote herself and her work.

Questions?

Do you have questions about the case study? What suggestions do you have?

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