Snapshot! Christina Holm-Sandok

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Welcome! Let's talk about how specialty retail is changing in the internet age, how retailers and indie brands can work together to wow customers. We love to see small shops, niche e-commerce and small-batch producers thriving!

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by Sarah Von

Snapshot! Christina Holm-Sandok

 

Christina Holm-Sandok is a brand expert with more than 400 pages of published lifestyle and fashion editorial work, countless seasons attending New York City Fashion Week and over ten years of creative marketing experience. 

 

She has harnessed all that awesome to create Style-Architects a creative lifestyle company that specializes in event planning, brand development and public relations, wardrobe styling and concierge services. 


We’re thrilled to feature Christina and her clever, clever ideas for branding fledgling businesses on a shoe string.

 

How would you define the term 'branding'? 


Branding is basically your company’s identity. It’s what you stand for, a promiseyou make, and the personality you convey. Your logo, website, how you answer the phone, the voice that is used in your copy, how you advertise your product or services....everything that your customers see, hear, feel in regards to your brand should have a cohesive feel. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition.


Why is it important for small businesses to have a branding plan?


Your brand should have a solid personality. Without a solid brand your company is not going to leave a memorable impression on your client or customer.

The first step in developing your brand is defining your market or demographic. Who is going to buy your product/service? Male or female? Age range? Where are they going to buy it? What does your core demographic do on the weekends? What are their passions? What motivates/influences them?

 

Do your best to answers most of these questions and then align your brand with your customers values. It is not as simple as having a cool logo. You need to connect with your customer or client on a deeper level. There is a lot of psychology behind why people continue to buy specific brands. Defining your audience will make every brand-related decision easier along the way.

 

It's important for companies to have a cohesive brand across all of their platforms, right? What are all the boxes that need ticking? (twitter/facebook/etsy shop/etc) Expressing your brand personality through social media is just as important. The voice of your brand is especially important on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Does what you say to your followers reflect your brand values? Some brands treat Twitter as a personal platform to vent frustrations or trivial daily details. It is important to remember that your customers are reading it, so remain positive and in-line with your brand identity.


What are some questions that an entrepreneur should ask themselves when they're conceptualizing their brand? 


Who do they want to buy your product? Define your customer. Give him/her a name, age range, hobbies, lifestyle choices, etc...and then look at other brands that your customer is already a loyal follower. For example, research shows that Prius owners tend to also shop at Co-ops. Do your homework on your customer/client/reader before you dive into developing a brand.

 

If someone is on a very limited budget, where should they spend their marketing dollars?


You can do most of your brand research on your own by reading books and scouring the internet. Also, if you have a friend or family member that fits the bill of your ideal customer, do your own mini focus group and gather market research. Once you have the direction defined, hire a decent designer. Do not hire an experienced designer until you have plenty of examples of logos and websites that you like and can articulate the art direction clearly. This will save you a lot of time as many designers charge hourly. Once you have a logo, you can develop your own wordpress website. If writing isn’t your strong suit, I also highly recommend hiring a copywriter.


Can you recommend any (free/inexpensive) resources that can help a small business owner develop their brands? 


Fiverr -  you can have a logo designed for $5 or increase your Twitter followers to 1,000 overnight
Moo.com - gorgeous business cards and reasonably priced
Wordpress - great tool to build your website

 

Photo Credits :: Christina Holm-Sandok