There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to branding and what a brand is.
What you probably do know is: your brand is NOT your logo.
Which is true.
Your logo is part of how you communicate your brand, but branding a business is not like branding a cow; you can’t simply stamp your logo on anything and everything and call that branding.
Which holds true for your craft show display too.
You can’t simply hang a banner sign on the front of your craft show table and call your space branded.
There’s much more to it.
So what does a “brand” or “branding” mean?
WHAT IS A BRAND?
There are soooo many definitions for “brand”.
I like to think of a brand as a business’s personality, or its heart and soul. It’s why consumers choose one business when there are hundreds of options to choose from; they feel more of a connection, in one way or another, to the ones they choose.
Let’s look at an analogy…
If we think about friends, there are lots of options out there for people who could be our friends.
But the people we feel the most comfortable with, or have the strongest connection to, or have the most in common with, or share the same values with, etc. are the ones we want to spend more of our time with.
If you think about your friends’ personalities being their “brand”, then you can see how it’s their “brand” that sets them apart from your other friends, and their “brand” is what encourages you to want to spend more or less time with them.
Now apply that idea to business and consider how a brand helps us decide which business to spend more of our money with.
An example of a brand that millions of people feel a connection to is Starbucks.
People can buy coffee anywhere, but Starbucks’ brand has a warm, comforting, and friendly atmosphere, which people appreciate. No matter which café you walk into, it has the same familiar look, feel, smell, sound, and you can get your coffee made just the way you like it. It may be a location you’ve never been to, but it feels like a neighborhood café you’ve been visiting for years.
Starbucks sells coffee, just like thousands of other businesses. But their brand is what sets their coffee and cafes apart from the others, and is what encourages millions of consumers to choose them.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Again, there are lots of definitions of branding.
I like to think of branding as the act of communicating your brand. Your brand should come through in EVERY aspect of your business.
Starbucks doesn’t feel warm and comforting simply because their cafes use warm colors, cozy chairs, and often have fireplaces going. “Warm”, “comforting”, and “friendly” comes through in every element.
When a business has done a good job of branding, consumers will all describe that business in a similar way.
Sort of like how we describe our friends.
For example, I might describe one of my friends as sporty. I didn’t come up with that description because she told me to describe her that way or because she’s constantly talking about how “sporty” she is.
I describe her as “sporty” because she’s always played sports, loves watching sports and talking about sports, she wears sporty clothes, spends money on sporting events and sport-related products, etc.
Sportiness comes through in everything she does.
That’s taking her “brand” (part of her personality; being sporty) and communicating it in several different ways (branding).
Now, if we imagine a business selling handmade items at a craft show, what would it take for us to describe that business as sporty? (without the vendor coming right out and saying “my business is sporty and for sporty people”)
They may use AstroTurf as a tablecloth and add sports-related props (e.g. a basketball, baseball, or football). Their products would be sports-related, they may use a Varsity font for their signage, and the vendor might be dressed in a sports jersey and chat to shoppers about a recent sports game (when they’re not speaking about their products).
If that business is selling jewelry and there are 10 other jewelry vendors at the event, one would likely describe that business as a “sporty”.
That jewelry business will stand out at the craft show when every other jewelry vendor has a white tablecloth, is selling silver jewelry, and doesn’t have a strong brand (or isn’t communicating their brand).
They’ll be easily recognizable when a shopper tells their friend to check out the “sporty jewelry vendor”.
And, they’ll be memorable and easy to find after the event.
Imagine if you came across 10 jewelry businesses in a day. You likely wouldn’t remember the names of each business and without a discerning quality about them, it would be hard to find the business after the event.
On the other hand, the sporty jewelry business likely has a memorable sporty name. And even if you couldn’t remember the name, you could post on the event’s Facebook page or email the organizer and people would know the exact business you’re referring to. Or, you could Google “sporty jewelry vendor in ______ city” and easily find their website.
That’s the benefit of defining a brand, applying it, and communicating it in as many unspoken ways as possible.
Here are 3 steps to branding your craft show table.
STEP 1 – UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF YOUR BRAND
Let’s take a quick look at a few reasons it’s important to work on your brand.
Benefit #1 – To attract new customers
Think about brands you’re unfamiliar with. Imagine walking through a shopping center and seeing a bunch of stores. How do you choose which ones you check out and which ones to skip?
You likely look at their signage, their window display and glance in the store.
If your tastes are modern and the sign, display, and décor have a vintage vibe, you’ll decide right away that the store isn’t a fit for you.
Imagine how harmful it would be to that store if they actually did carry modern-style products but they got their branding wrong. Their ideal customers would continue to walk right by.
That’s what happens when branding isn’t done right, is inconsistent, or even nonexistent.
Benefit #2 – To set your business apart
You’re likely not the only person selling a particular product at a craft show. So you want shoppers to notice the difference between your products and the vendor’s down the aisle.
Although you may know what makes your designs and business different from others’, to a shopper, it may not be so obvious.
I mean really, would you notice the subtle differences between Coca-Cola and Pepsi if they weren’t pointed out and you weren’t able to identify them through their labels?
The Pepsi taste-test challenge was started to help consumers recognize there is a difference between the two and to encourage consumers to identify themselves as a Pepsi or Coca-Cola drinker. Without branding we likely wouldn’t gravitate to one over the other at the grocery store.
Your branding should highlight the parts of your business that are unique and special.
Benefit #3 – To create repeat customers
Now think about a brand you are familiar with. Starbucks is a great example of a strong, well-known brand. Their coffee shops create an amazing experience for their customers, which is consistent from café to café.
You know the look of a Starbucks coffee cup in someone’s hand when you see the white cup with a green logo. The same green is used in their storefronts so people can spot a Starbucks from down the block and smell the coffee brewing.
When you walk in, you hear the sounds of beans being ground, milk being steamed and customer names being called, along with unique drink names, modifications and sizes (where else do you hear: “Grande, half-caf, extra whip caramel macchiato for Susan!”).
There’s a warm, cozy vibe from the fireplaces, leather chairs, wood accents, and soft lighting. Your drink can be customized just the way you like it and no matter where you go, it tastes the same every time.
The senses that are indulged and the familiarity is what brings customers back again and again. We could easily head to a local convenient store and get a cup of coffee for half the price. But we’re willing to pay more for the experience Starbucks offers.
Let’s create a display and experience for your craft show shoppers that attracts your ideal customer, sets you apart, and brings sales in again and again.
STEP 2 – DEFINE YOUR BRAND
If you’re unsure how you would define your brand or haven’t quite built one yet, you can start now! Work off your logo, products, and most importantly, your target market, to begin creating a brand identity.
When making decisions about your brand, you should always think about your customer. Who is your ideal customer and what do they like? How can you indulge their senses, just like Starbucks does?
With your ideal customer and your personal style in mind, consider the following senses to help you define your brand:
How would you describe the look of your brand? Is it feminine, masculine, whimsical, modern, rustic, youthful, etc.? What types of colors, fonts, finishes and styles communicate that look?
When it comes to your brand, think of “touch” or “feel” in terms of: how do you want your customers to feel when they shop with you? What’s the vibe you want to give off or the emotions you want to evoke? It may be happy, relaxed, youthful, humorous, elegant, or sophisticated. Think about what you want people to feel when they visit your craft show table or wear/display/use/gift your product.
Lighting can be used to set the mood. Soft lighting can create a warm and cozy feel while a brightly lit space can add more energy.
You can incorporate “feel” literally as well. If you sell jewelry and all your pieces are perfectly smooth and polished, you may encourage shoppers to pick up each item and feel the impeccable finish. If your knitted scarves are the softest in town, you may want people to feel the difference. Or maybe you want shoppers to notice how great their skin feels after they try your moisturizing hand cream.
What’s the language and tone of your brand? When you talk to shoppers (or create signs), are you bubbly and casual, using a bit of slang and talking to shoppers as though they’re your friends? Or do you use a more sophisticated tone, stating facts and keeping conversation professional? Which keywords do you use that make your ideal customer’s ears perk up? If you’re speaking to moms, “quick and easy”, “stain-resistant” and “washable” may be words they want to hear.
Sound can also be incorporated if you have an enclosed craft show booth where you can softly play music. Would your brand be identified by classical, rock & roll, or pop music? It can even work into your actual product (think: the snap, crackle, and pop sound Rice Krispies make) or its packaging (think: the pop a Pringles can makes when you open it).
Although smell may seem to only apply to scented products (such as soap) or food items, it can be incorporated into brands selling any type of product. Some people are sensitive to smell so you do want to keep it subtle. But sense of smell is one of our biggest ties to memory.
Is there a perfume you wore in high school that immediately takes you back when you catch a hint of it? You want to create the same type of trigger and have shoppers think of your brand, business, and products when they smell a specific scent.
Consider if there’s a scent that might represent the look and feel of your brand and could be lightly used in your craft show space. It may be as subtle as spritzing your tablecloth with linen spray, adding a Scentsy warmer to your table with a wax melt, or spritzing the tissue paper you place in shopping bags.
If your brand is feminine and sophisticated, a light floral scent could help strengthen that message. If your brand is masculine and moody, a spicier scent could work.
This sense likely won’t apply to your brand unless you’re selling food or drink items. However, that’s not to say you can’t get creative and find a way to incorporate taste (only if it makes sense…don’t force it).
You may offer a bowl of mints shoppers can enjoy while they check out your refreshing peppermint-scented bath & body products. Or it could be candy canes to celebrate your holiday jewelry collection full of red and white stones.
The more senses you incorporate, the more memorable experience you’ll create for your shoppers.
STEP 3 – APPLY YOUR BRAND
Once you’ve defined your brand, the next step is to determine how to incorporate it into your craft show display. In a few words, define the senses of your brand so you can easily reference them as you think about your space.
Then, think about each aspect of your craft show space. It may involve:
- Display fixtures
- Display props
- You and your attire
Now determine how you will apply the elements of your brand to the elements of your display.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine a bath & body vendor who creates candy-scented soaps. Their logo has a vintage vibe to it, playing off the look of an old-fashioned candy shop. They create one new scent collection to go with each season and their staple scents are: Gummy Bears, Milk Chocolate, and Red Licorice.
They’ve defined their brand by:
SIGHT: Colorful and old-fashioned (their logo is pink and white)
FEEL: Fun and youthful
SOUND: Relaxed language and cheerful tone
SMELL: Candy scents
Here’s how they might communicate their brand through their craft show display.
Their old-fashioned, candy-shop-vibe logo would be displayed on a banner sign. A few photos would be displayed with each scent collection showing a bar of soap on a bed of the candy it smells like (e.g. the gummy bear bar of soap would be photographed on a bed of gummy bears). Price and product information would be printed in a vintage-style font.
The same type of big glass jars you would find in a candy shop would be used to hold the bars of soap. Display fixtures such as shelves or risers would be white to allow the colorful soap to stand out. Samples for smelling could sit in white candy bowls or on cake stands with a folded card stating the name and scent of the soap.
A few oversized lollipops, a pink and white striped tablecloth, and a vintage candy scale could be used to add to the candy shop theme. A bowl of wrapped candies would sit on the edge of the table for shoppers to help themselves to and emphasize the candy theme.
The vendor would break their display into 4 groupings. One for each signature scented soap (gummy bear, chocolate, and licorice) and another for the season’s feature scent (perhaps bubblegum ice cream during summer). The labels for each bar of soap mimic a candy wrapper and when one is purchased, it’s placed in a pink and white striped candy bag.
The vendor may wear a pink and white striped apron, black dress pants and a white dress shirt with a pink bowtie, and a white bowler hat to look like a candyman/woman. They’d be upbeat and energetic and speak to customers in a friendly but professional tone.
Sounds like a fun craft show table right?
That’s an extreme example and your brand or products may not fit into a theme. But do think of your craft show table as a mini store and design it with the same attention to detail you would if you were opening your own boutique.
Keep the look and feel consistent from one element to the next and you’ll have an amazing branded craft show table shoppers can’t resist!
For more help building a powerful craft show table to boost your sales and step-by-step instructions, join my free email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!