Boutique Hub Guest Post
Who would have thought that such a small word, describing such a small image, could be so loaded to a business owner…and I don’t mean like the chicken-cheese-rice-beans-salsa-guacamole nachos kind of loaded. I mean like bogged down, with pressure, expectations, hopes, fears and more.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and see the big picture before we let the anxiety get to us.
Build a fierce brand with a loyal following, and your logo will definitely hold a lot of power (think Starbucks, Nike, Apple, Facebook). But your logo doesn’t do this all on its own. We give it that power by building our brand first. Once we do, our logo could be as simple as our boutique name in black and white in our favorite font – and it would still hold that power.
So, what are these things that are essential to building this strong strong brand outside of your logo?
Well, I’ll tell ya! But let me finish this Champagne first – because this is gonna be a long list!
Your Brand Story:
Who are you? Why should we care? What have you been through? Why should we follow you? Why did you decide to do this? What makes you so special? How are you unique?
Your potential customers have 1000’s of online and in-person shopping options. WHY should they shop with you? And spoiler: this has nothing at all to do with the cute clothes you carry. You need to build a compelling brand story!
This is often as simple as just speaking the truth about YOU. Your challenges, your mistakes, your heartbreaks, your flaws, your human-ness.
I don’t just mean sharing about your last girls’ night out, where you drank way too much tequila and were singing Wannabe at the top of your lungs at the Karaoke bar. Although, heck – share that too (I mean chances are someone, many someones, will relate to that).
But I mean, share your boudoir photos with your followers (censored, of course) even though you are plus-sized and were scared as heck to get them taken in the first place. Tell them about how you were scared too.
Share about the five-year-battle you had with cancer, and explain how it was at the deepest depths of your despair during the worst of it, that your boutique was born, arising out of a need to finally start chasing your dreams because life is too dang short to spend it not following your dream.
Share your story, and share it deep. Share it often. Share it unapologetically.
Your Brand Mission:
Now we know all about you…but tell me, what do you hope to do with your boutique? What’s in it for your followers? What’s in it for the world? And no, this still has nothing to do with the cute clothes you carry!
I, personally, started my boutique (after that bout with cancer) to inspire myself and other women everyday to never give up on living the life they’d always imagined. To never give up faith, to believe in miracles, and to make magic happen.
So, what is your mission? That deep down, brings tears to your eyes every single time, type of mission?
Your Brand Personality:
Even with a powerful story and mission, it’s all about the personality you use to share it. The language. The words. The emojis. The memes.
Think of your brand’s personality as a TV show character’s personality. It should be strong, consistent, quirky, exaggerated, bold. Your brand’s personality may be YOUR personality. And chances are, it’s only certain aspects of your personality that you then need to develop further.
For example, my boutique’s brand is a champagne drinker, she cusses, she hates housework, she loves naps, she hates working and working out, she thinks she’s kind of a bad-a** (because, well, she is right)?
Ok, this apple may not fall too far from my tree.
If you don’t think your poor brand has any personality, then she probably doesn’t. Give her one!
Your Brand Style:
Finally, we are getting to the cute clothing! The types, styles, sizes, colors, patterns and fits of your clothing are all a part of your brand’s unique style, and it can take time to develop this! Sometimes you will be in the driver’s seat and sometimes you must, instead, pay close attention to your target customer.
For example, if your ladies want leggings and booty-covering tunics, don’t go ordering booty shorts or rompers, and visa versa! If they don’t want to order anything but hilarious graphic tees, then order the heck out of them and don’t worry about anything else.
Curate a collection of clothing that really caters to your ideal customer, so that when your customer logs onto your website or pops into your store, they know just what to expect and they absolutely love everything you’ve got! This also means knowing WHO your ideal customer is (which is a whole other blog post).
Your Brand Photos:
Photos can be a challenge. And it may be very tempting to use the stock photos provided to us (and sometimes this may feel like our only option). BUT the photos that you use are a huge part of your brand.
Whether you focus on flat-lays, lifestyle shots, indoor shots set against a particular backdrop, or outdoor shots. Whether you hire a photographer, or still snap your photos straight from your smartphone. There are no right or wrong answers here, but consistency, uniformity and aesthetics all come into play.
Let your photos help to build a clearer picture of your brand! And it’s ok to start where you are, but always continue to focus on improving the quality of your photos! One day you will look back and have a good chuckle at the photos you just posted yesterday. And that’s ok. Growing your brand (photos included) doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey.
As a side note, I highly suggest making sure all your photos are at least sized the same on your website. You can resize them right on Shopify using their photo editing feature: just go to your product, hover over your photo and click on the pencil option, and then choose crop. Just make sure you crop each photo to the same dimensions, I recommend either square 800×800 or rectangle 800×600 – but the choice is yours!
Your Customer Journey:
Ok, so we’ve covered a few key pieces of your brand. Now how do we wrap this all together for the customer, to really give them a branded experience from start to finish?
Well it’s about every single social media post, every single email blast, every single nook and cranny of your website, every single customer email notification (no, you do not have to just stick with those generic Shopify emails – you can customize them with html)!
It’s about the package you send to your customer, with a branded hangtag on each article of clothing, brand-colored tissue paper, a branded thank you note, a branded sticker sealing the tissue paper, and another branded sticker or polymailer on the outside.
It’s about the follow up email you send a week later asking for feedback, an email (like all your other emails) that is infused with your brand’s unique personality.
Or in a storefront/pop-up/fashion truck? It’s about the merchandising, the signage and displays. The customer’s bags and receipts. Your employees, the service they provide and the clothing they wear on the floor. It’s about clean bathrooms, well lit dressing rooms, and attention to detail.
Your Brand Colors, Fonts and Logo:
These matter too! They help provide a clean, memorable, cohesive experience. To not mention these three items would definitely be a travesty!
If you haven’t done so yet, I definitely recommend setting up a folder or document with your logos (often wise to have a few different styles: square, rectangle and one with your business initials or just a symbol), colors codes (you can find your color codes by uploading an image with your colors in it to www.imagecolorpicker.com), and your fonts. Then as often as possible, use these exactly logos, colors (down to the color code) and fonts (or similar fonts).
The next time you think about branding, I really hope you consider that while your colors, fonts and logo are definitely important- there is just so much more to the story! And if you aren’t working to develop the rest of your brand further, then chances are that you’re leaving money on the table!
Wishing you much happiness and success this week,
Angela, Hot Mess Consulting
Angela is an online and pop-up boutique owner, a writer (author of ‘Why the H*ll am I not Wearing any Pants?), a shopify set-up girl (aka web designer), branding consultant and more. She is also mama to two fur-babies, a husky puppy and a yorkie shitzu (that do not get along) that help keep her life interesting. And for the rest of the time, there is always champagne, hot tubs and the great outdoors (hiking, camping, white water rafting). To inquire more about hiring Angela to set-up, makeover, tweak or just further develop your website or brand – e-mail her at [email protected]