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September 23, 2014

Seller Spotlight with MacKenzie Design: The Importance of Branding

If you haven't heard of the Bro-Brick yet, you need to check it out. MacKenzie of MacKenzie Design has done an amazing job creating products for a niche market and branding them to grab attention. The Bro-Brick is just one example; from it's name and packaging to the variety of scents, every detail is thought of and help his products stand out in a busy marketplace. Read a bit more about his business, products and advice on branding.

If you would like to try out his products, enter our Facebook contest going on this week (Sept 23/14 - Sept 29/14) for your chance to win 3 Bro-Bricks and a ComMANdle!

1) Tell us a bit about your Bro-Bricks & ComMANdles and how you came up with the idea: I first started with the Commandles, I have two kids and I wanted something to freshen up the house. All my wife had were these flowery candles. I decided it was time for a more manly scent. So I researched how to make candles and looked online for packaging solutions. I decided on beeswax and soy and placing them in an aluminium tin. The soaps I created as a partner to the ComMANdles, once again, we didn’t have any great smelling soaps around the house. The Bro-Brick was born.

2) What type of ingredients do you use in your soaps and how are they different from store bought? I use a blend of olive, sunflower, palm, and coconut oil. Store bought soaps are very generic and don’t offer the same quality as homemade soaps. Handmade soaps offer a better lather and clean the skin more thoroughly. If you ever use one of my soaps you will instantly feel the difference. I also offer scents that no one else is currently making. One of my favorites is the leather scrub bar.

3) Do you also offer custom scents? Of course! Just place a request and I will always do my best to accommodate. You can even order custom labels and place your own logo on them!

Over the months I have had several requests for soaps that would appeal to women (currently I have Lavender, Mint&Honey, and orange coconut). At the moment, they are only available upon request. Plans are in the works to add a “Chick-Brick” to my product line. So stay tuned for that!

4) What’s your favorite brainstorming method for coming up with new products or product lines? I don’t know if I have just one way, I just absorb the world around me and try to make soaps and candles that I like and I hope others will like as well. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. There is a lot of trial and error.

5) You’ve definitely created a niche, how important do you think that is when starting a handmade business? If you are able to fill a need that no-one, or few have thought of, it just makes it easier. Bringing a product into an already saturated market makes it more difficult. You really have to set yourself apart from the competition. Both candles and soaps, of course, have been done before, I just geared it towards a new, untapped market.

6) You’ve built a really strong brand from your products, the scents you offer, your packaging and right down to your terminology. Which element do you think is most important for building a strong brand? First you have to establish who your clientele is going to be. Next develop your brand values. In my case, the product is geared toward men, so I wanted a brand that spoke to them. The values I wanted to depict are local, handmade, vegan.

7) Do you have any advice for small businesses that have a product but haven’t necessarily built a brand? Where should they start? Come up with a name for your soap, not just a scent name. Something people can relate to. Then logo, tagline, and develop a look or style. A brand that can be consistent throughout the entire product line. If you are going to be selling for the long term I would suggest trademarking your name and buying the url as soon as possible.

8) You’ve successfully gone from selling your soaps online and at craft shows, to selling them wholesale. What was instrumental to stores picking up your soaps?Free samples, and a great sell sheet. Let the buyer know exactly what they are getting without any high pressure sales.

9) What was the biggest change you had to make (or challenge you had) to begin selling in stores? I’m only in a few stores at the moment, and those I got through word of mouth, but I am working on a sample package to send out to a lot more stores and I am hopeful for a great response. The biggest challenge I’m planning on having is keeping up with orders!

10) You’re also a graphic designer. Can you help other businesses successfully brand their products the way you have yours? Graphic design is my full time job, The candles and the soaps were a way for me to do design work that was 100% my own. I also wanted to see if I could take a product from initial concept all the way to successful production/wholesale. I would love to help out any other clients that have the same idea. I love making all kinds of things from logos to packaging to websites.

Check out MacKenzie Design's amazing line of soaps, candles and t-shirts on Made Urban:

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