Our Top tips for building a stationery and gift brand
Posted on 25 March 2021
One of the unexpected outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the number of people who have taken the opportunity to start new businesses. More than 400,000 new companies began life in 2020 as people were furloughed or lost their regular jobs completely, which shows that the entrepreneurial spirit is well and truly alive. If you are looking at building a brand in the stationery and gift space, I can help you out with my experiences of launching Afrotouch Design from scratch.
Take a look at these top tips for creating a stationery brand and hopefully they will help you get up and running. It will be tough but it will definitely be worth it. Trust me; I’ve been there.
Find Your Niche
As you can imagine, stationery is a wide-ranging area and you can’t cover all bases immediately. Concentrate on one great item and build from there. It could be a range of notebooks, greeting cards, planners or anything. But get that one star item right before expanding.
For me, my niche became obvious. In fact, I knew which problem I wanted to solve because it had been a problem for me! I wanted a card to celebrate the birth of a baby, but I couldn’t find one with a black baby on it. There was nothing that represented my friend’s heritage and roots. I decided that I would have to fight underrepresentation in the industry by starting my own brand and creating the cards that I wanted to see in the shops.
And that is what you need to do. There are so many stationery and gift brands, so you have to work out what makes you unique. What problem do you solve? Why should anyone choose to buy from you over another business? Why should retailers stock your cards? Ask yourself these questions and it will help you hone your offering to take your slice of the market.
Make Yourself Available
When you are the face of the brand, you have to make yourself available. This means getting out there and getting your name and mission in print, online, on the radio, the TV and more. People buy from people and telling your personal story is just as important as promoting your products. If you have something interesting to say and people can follow your journey, you inspire lifelong customers.
You don’t have to be an extrovert. In fact, I’m a real introvert, but taking yourself outside of your comfort zone is the best way to challenge yourself to achieve ever-greater heights. And when you are building a brand, you need to get used to that!
Newspapers, websites and other media outlets are always looking for stories, so give them one. Send out press releases, tag them on social media and let them know that you exist. When they come to you either for comment on a particular story or to feature you more fully, you basically get to sell your brand in return.
I have appeared in amazing publications in recent months from The Voice to Forbes. I’ve chatted to Gaby Roslin on BBC Radio London, I’ve done everything I can to organically spread the word of my brand and the story behind it.
Network Network Network
In addition to media work, you can’t underestimate how important networking is to building a brand. I have appeared at the Black Business Show on two occasions, taking the opportunity to mingle with some top names in business and pitch my brand to them.
These events are ideal for meeting people who can help you and who you can help too. You can swap experiences and advice and make some really powerful connections to drive your business forwards. They are the places to meet everyone on the supply chain as well as the buyers who make decisions over which brands their businesses stock.
Of course, face-to-face networking hasn’t happened for a while, but there are still virtual platforms where you can mix with other entrepreneurs. LinkedIn is the obvious choice for B2B networking, but don’t forget that there are all sorts of communities to interact with across the internet. If you are looking for targeted groups, you can catch up with them on Instagram and in Facebook Groups, for example.
The more people you meet in business, the more opportunity you have to spread the word about the good work you are doing. You can create a buzz and enjoy some real connections.
More Help Building a Brand With Stationery and Gifts?
I hope this has helped you on your journey to building a brand. There are so many tips to give you, though, that it will take at least another blog. Make sure you check back here next month to find out more about the day-to-day realities of brand building, with help to get you off to a flying start.