What is your “Brand Story”?

May 19, 2016

The annual Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild’s conference officially started today.  It’s always a fun event.  This is my third conference now  (Raeligh, Tuscon, and Tampa).  The keynote speaker was Jerrod Sumner and he talked about Beyond the Label and Logo: Are Telling Your Best Story?

Normally “inspirational” type speeches aren’t my thing.  When we sat down I thought this would be another type speech.  It was, but it was much more than that too.  I walked away from the lecture pleased with what I’d taken away from it.

If you make or sell anything then you’ve probably heard the word “branding” come your way a time or two.  When I turned my hobby into a business I’d already been using the name “Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.”  I realized at the time that it wasn’t the most creative name, but when I suggested changing it everyone was like oh no! It’s fine.  This is how we know you! (The maybe 100 or so people I had following me at the time).  I didn’t fight it, or put up much of an argument for changing it.  1) I didn’t know what else to call my business.  2) I liked the name “Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.”  And I figured if I was ok with it, then I was going to go with it.  I had this idea for a logo at the time.  A very vague idea that I described to my best friend and said: “Hey could you create a cool logo for me.”

What she came up with was better than I could have even imagined.  I loved it.  I, to this day, love my logo.  It’s me.  People see my logo and the recognize me and my business.  I didn’t really think much beyond that when it came to branding, because I always felt I had done a decent job.  I knew there was more I could do, but overall I felt that branding wasn’t a priority at the top of my list.

Listening to the lecture today I took away so much more and realized that “branding” and your “logo” hold a hidden story. And that there’s a difference between your Brand Story and your Brand Identiy.

Branding is not a logo or your products.  Branding is a promise to your customers.  It’s a promise to deliver quality products, it’s a reputations, it’s a promise, it’s your story.

People buy products, but they join brands.

We were asked the following two questions:

  1. Why do you do what you do?
  2. What do you want to be known for?

Answering these two questions I realized wasn’t a simple one sentence answer.  And they’re actually questions I will explore in another post once I get home, because those two questions really are the heart of who I am as Jennifer’s Handmade Soap.

Make it matter to you before it matters to them.

We explored the idea of brand storytelling in the seminar.  It’s the first time I have ever heard that term, and I like it.  It’s really quite a cool way to think about who “you” are as a business.  Brand storytelling is what motivates me, and my customers that value my product  (and who tell everyone far and wide what they’re missing out on by not buying my soaps–thank you! You all are the best and put a smile on my face.).  It’s a relationship building tool, a look into who I am as a company, and the heart of who I am as a business.

Good stories give big voices to even the smallest brands.

We discussed many ways to tell your story.  Many which I do to some degree, but many more I can do or do more of.  My business has a voice.  It’s in my style of soaps.  My photos.  My blog/FB posts. My method of teaching.  How I interact with my customers.  It’s in all the little things and I hope that that voice shines through.  I want people to see how much I love what I do.  I want people to feel like they’re along for the ride on this crazy journey of mine.  And so, my challenge to myself this year is to strengthen my voice and tell my branding story.  It was a good start the conference.  And I’m ready for more!

Great Opportunity, Amazing Experience

August 11, 2012

At the end of June I was contacted by The Cotting School, a school for children with special needs, if I’d be willing to participate in their summer program.  Every Wednesday they were having a different presentation on  some aspect of hygiene.  The director wanted to know if I’d come in one afternoon and do a presentation on the history of soap and talk about how soap was made.

I accepted.  I’d gotten into soap making because I was researching the history of it.  I had all my notes and information on that still.  I pulled them out and worked on putting together a presentation.  For the second half I put together a series of slides showing the process of making soap.  I brought in some of the ingredients I use as well as the equipment.  The day before I’d made a small batch so I could bring it in and unmold it and show the students how I cut the soap.

It all went over really well.  Then it was time for a Q&A session.  I have to say I was amazed by these students.  They asked some great questions!  Questions that showed they were processing what I’d told them and thinking about how I applied it to my business.  They were AWESOME!  I have to admit I was a bit nervous going into this.  I’d never done a presentation to children before, but it all turned out great!

Yesterday I got to go participate in their “Wares Fair.”  The students all work on making different products (note cards, magnets, calendars, dog beds…) and then they sell them.  It’s a fundraiser for the school.  I was asked to participate and sell my soaps.  Many of the students remembered me (so heart warming) and they were all awesome.  It was a great day.  I’m donating a part of my proceeds to the school.  It’s just a small way I can say thank you to them for letting me participate.  I’m so blessed to have had this experience.