Business Etiquette: The Holiday Edition

Saying that the “holiday season is upon us” might be music to consumer’s ears (think sales, discounts and BOGO galore), but to small businesses and large businesses alike, it can be a bit ominous. Now more than ever, consumers are driven to merchants who they perceive as sharing the same beliefs and values as they do, which can translate into something of a PR nightmare for businesses. Chief among the questions is usually, “Can I say Merry Christmas?” or “Maybe I should just say Happy Holidays”. While it might be tempting to take the path of least resistance and throw a few snowflakes on your flyers and website in surrender, don’t-put down that “holiday tree” and keep reading!

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Some Statistics 

America is as diverse a place as they come; millions of Americans celebrate Christmas, while millions of Americans do not. In the month of December, there are three major religious holidays that take place:

December

Mawlid al-Nabi (Islamic): Begins on the evening of December 11th, and ends on the evening of December 12th.

Hanukkah (Jewish): December 25th, 2016 through January 1st, 2017 (begins at sundown on December 24th.)

Christmas (Christian): December 25th 

Along with the main Christian, Islamic and Jewish holidays, there is a large population of (but not limited to) Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics and Atheists who do not necessarily celebrate a major holiday in December.

I know the question you’ve got; how do I keep my advertising diverse enough to cover every single holiday? You can’t. But you can appeal to each group through inclusive advertising that is both sincere and product relevant.

The Common Denominator 

Finding something that many people have in common, especially consumers, is a lifelong pursuit for today’s entrepreneur. Think about what the holiday season is about-no matter which religious holiday you celebrate if you even celebrate one, each holiday revolves around generosity, hope, mercy, and family.

Considerations based on both your target and desired audiences should be made as with any advertising situation. Also, think about the venues you’ll be showing at and compensate accordingly; for example, if you are attending a craft show in a church, you could easily tailor your holiday décor and advertising towards Christmas. Do research on your venue, the history of its attendees and the area in which it is located first to really maximize your holiday audience reach.

Being Inclusive Means Being Creative 

As a Handcrafter and entrepreneur, you are already in possession of a creative and resourceful nature; creating an inclusive holiday vibe for your business is a great way to exercise those skills! Tapping into themes of generosity and hope with a creative, humorous twist will help make your business relatable to your customers, no matter what holiday they celebrate. Because, after all, your business is not just open for the holidays; you are (likely) a year-round business that can greatly benefit from having a loyal, diverse customer base.

For example, consider donating some of the proceeds from your December sales to a local or national charity. Especially during the holiday season, many consumers are conscious of not just the need to give their loved ones gifts, but the needs of those who are less fortunate. Using generosity as a cohesive theme for your holiday sales and advertising instead of necessarily focusing on specific holidays will not only help you relate to a wider customer base, but also do some good for your community.

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to the holiday season, no matter what holiday a consumer celebrates, they are looking for quality products and incredible gifts and will come to you to find them. It can be tempting to be drawn into the debate about political correctness when it comes to the holidays, but you can take the guesswork out of holiday advertising by simply acknowledging the common message of hope and generosity associated with every celebration; these are causes we can all agree on!

Do you know what your consumers really need? Properly labeled soaps and cosmetics, of course! Make sure to take a peek at our How-To Library article, How to Correctly Label Cosmetics (https://www.soapguild.org/how-to/legal-compliance/cosmetic-labeling.php) for more info!

 

 

Logos: The Do’s and Don’ts of Representing Your Brand

As consumers, we are constantly faced with multiple companies selling the same product. From cereal to clothing to automobiles, we are faced with colorful designs and characters; but what is it that makes a product easily recognizable? You got it-the logo.

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A logo tells a consumer which brand they are buying and in some cases, might mean the difference between someone choosing one product over another. In this article, we will explore different types of logos, their benefits, and how to make sure you have the best fit for your business.

Logo Types 

Before you get started, there are a few types of logos in use today. Logos can be font based or text-only, illustrations with text, or strictly illustrated logos. Each type has its own benefits and potential drawbacks; trying multiple logos is a great way to find the right one for you.

 

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Font based or text-only logos are exactly what they sound like-your company’s name in your preferred font, with no illustration or additional symbols. There are a few things to consider when designing a text logo.

  1. Consider your audience, and your product. If your company has a whimsical name, using a rounded, cartoonish font will compliment your product. If you are marketing your product in a more modern, refined way, a thin, sleek font with crisp edges may be the right fit for you. In either case, try to avoid commonly used fonts like Comic Sans; these can give your logo an amateur feel.
  1. Make sure your font is legible. If you are using a clean and simple font, this may not be as much of a concern. Script and other specialty fonts with intricate designs may look appealing, but can be confusing to read if your logo is resized or shrunk. If you are using a cursive or script-style font for your logo, think about adding a simpler font as a secondary logo for small print situations. 
  1. Think about using a custom font. There are a wide variety of online resources you can use when searching for the right font; you are not obligated to use one of the fonts from your computer’s on board word processor (although that’s fine too!). A custom font puts more choices and control at your fingertips-with hundreds of thousands of fonts in existence, the chances are good that you will find one that you love.

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You may decide that you’d like a picture or illustration along with your company’s name. This can be a great way to spice up your logo and add a personal touch; but keep a few things in mind.

  1. Relevance is key. For example, if you make a beautiful handcrafted soap and your product is crafted around goat’s milk, using an illustration of a cute goat is acceptable! People will see your illustration and make assumptions about what your product contains, where the product was made, and depending on the illustration, even what your company’s values are. Make sure that your illustration helps current and potential customers to make a quick, positive connection between your products and your business.
  1. Quality is very important. Using a clean, high quality and high resolution picture will make a big difference in the way your print materials look. Keep in mind that your picture or illustration may need to be resized for flyers or branded materials-an illustration that looks great while small, may be pixelated and stretched when resized if the original file is not high resolution.

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Companies who have made a name for themselves sometimes choose to drop text from their names and retain the illustration only. As with other logo types, there are a few things to consider if you are going this route.

  1. Will people recognize you? When it comes to dropping your company’s name from the logo, the biggest consideration is whether or not your company has built up enough of a reputation and a big enough following to ensure that customers do not need to see your company’s name in order to know the product is yours. If you do not have this kind of following and reputation, it may be risky to take your company’s name out of your logo.
  1. Change may be difficult. If you decide to change your logo down the road, this may make your brand temporarily unrecognizable, unless your logo is very similar to your previous one. Consider adding your company’s name into your logo at least for a short period to familiarize customers with your new look.

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The Design Process 

Once you have decided what type of logo you’d like to go with, the design process begins! If you are familiar with programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator, designing your logo yourself will be an option. If you are unfamiliar with these programs, that’s ok too.  Hiring someone to design a logo for you when you are uncomfortable with using design programs can help to alleviate most, if not all, of the stress that comes with designing the perfect logo.

The Logo Design Checklist 

To keep yourself on track while venturing through the design process, keep the following things in mind:

  • Is this logo unique, or is it too generic to convey my business properly? Too unique, and your logo may not represent your product properly; too generic, and it will get lost in a sea of logos. Strike a balance between intricate and simple. 
  • Have I properly tested my design? This means trying it in different colors, on different colors, and on different materials; testing may be extra legwork, but getting your logo right at the starting gate is easier than switching horses mid-race. 
  • Design multiple logos. You may fall in love with the first logo you design or have designed for you, but don’t stop there-having multiple logos designed will help you in the case of a trademark infringement or even in different advertising situations. 
  • Go through the proper steps to make sure you are not infringing on another company’s trademarked logo; then consider trademarking it yourself. This can be a tricky process, but it is well worth it. Consider speaking to an attorney who specializes in trademarks after your logo is designed. This is another good reason why designing multiple logos is a smart choice; if your first logo is an infringement, you’ll be prepared with another one. This tip is all about protecting you and your brand, and you know what they say; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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Final Thoughts 

Logo design can be intimidating, but having a unique and eye-catching logo is a great way to provide easy brand recognition to buyers. Your logo has the power to sell your product by reinforcing its quality and your company’s values through visual cues. By following these simple steps, you will be well on your way to the perfect design!

Would you like to learn more about trademarking your brand? Robert Lippman, a Principal with the law firm of Lemery Greisler LLC, will be presenting a topic titled “Protecting Your Business Brand” at our 2017 Annual Conference! Space is limited, so make sure to visit http://www.soapguild.org/cart/conference/1/registration.php today to reserve your spot.

 

Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Packaging (Part 2)-Tips for Packaging Your Cosmetics

Welcome to the second part of our two-part series on Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Packaging! In this article, we will be discussing some of the different packaging opportunities available to those who make lotions, butters and scrubs.

Just like with soap, there are many different options when it comes to packaging your cosmetics. Tubes, jars, bottles; the options for customization are nearly limitless! Choosing your shape, size and color wisely is very important, but it is also important to consider factors like whether the material could be recycled, whether it is sustainably and responsibly sourced, and how you will fill the packages with your product. You must also take into consideration how the product will look with your label on it.

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Packaging Materials

              Whether you choose tubes, jars or bottles, you will likely have the decision between plastic or glass packaging. Today’s consumers are becoming more and more environmentally aware; for this reason, it’s important to know a few terms that can help you navigate the different materials at your disposal.

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

             HDPE is one of the most common materials in cosmetic packaging. It is a very strong material, and is effectively moisture and chemical resistant. It is rated for exposure to temperatures ranging from -100ºF to 120ºF, making it more resistant to climate-related damages. HDPE is also easily recycled. Companies offer HDPE bottles in many different shapes and sizes, and with a variety of closures to really help you customize your final product.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate Plastic)

             Much like HDPE, PET is lightweight and relatively durable. Temperature resistance for PET ranges from -40ºF to 120ºF, which lends resistance to climate damage. Unlike HDPE, which has a cloudy appearance, PET is clear like glass and comes in a wide variety of colors, from cobalt blue and amber to crystal clear. PET is also easy to recycle, making it an environmentally friendly packaging decision.

Glass Packaging

            Glass packaging can certainly make an impact on your customers. It is important to consider shipping when choosing glass packaging options; be sure to find a durable jar or bottle that will have a lower chance of breaking during shipment, or if a customer accidentally drops it in the shower or bathroom. Glass package is easy to recycle, and is also easy to refill if you offer discounted refills to your customers.

 

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Packaging Considerations-Custom vs. Stock

             So, you’ve chosen your packaging material-great! Now, you must decide whether you will order customized bottles, tubes or jars, or if you will order stock. What’s the difference?

Custom Packaging

            Custom packaging can really help your product to stand out. Silk screening and custom labeling will give you complete control over the entire look of your package-but is it worth it?

There are a few considerations when you are looking at custom packaging. Most companies will require a minimum for a custom order; this number can range anywhere from 20 to 10,000 pieces. If you decide to continue with custom packaging, request a sample if possible so that you can be sure your container is exactly the way you’d like it; after all, you may end up with thousands of them. As an addendum to this potential issue, any changes in your company name, logo or ingredients may mean a complete reorder if you must change the packaging.

Stock Packaging

           Stock packaging is an easy way to order, and usually does not require ordering in very large quantities. Stock containers also have a quicker turnaround and shipping time, and can be easier to replace with a different company should your supplier discontinue carrying them. You can still customize a stock container with your own label and logo to really make it yours!

 

Sustainable Packaging

           Let’s talk for a moment about the importance of sustainable packaging. Your customers are looking for a quality product that is also environmentally friendly. There   are a few ways you could accomplish this.

Recyclable Packaging

           As we discussed earlier, there are recyclable packaging options such as HDPE, PET, glass, etc. To encourage customers to recycle your products, educate them as they are checking out. Let them know that they can choose to recycle the package themselves, or they are welcome to bring it back to you to turn in when they return for a new product; offering an incentive like a discount on a new product will encourage them both to recycle, and to become repeat customers!

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New and Interesting Packaging Options

             Some packaging companies have started to offer PLA plastic (Polymerized Lactic Acid) containers in place of traditional plastic packaging. PLA is biodegradable and compostable and is made from corn or sugarcane. PLA containers are durable and offer a great alternative to less sustainable methods. The minimum order quantity for these containers is usually a bit higher than normal; for example, SKS Bottle & Packaging requires a minimum order of 50,000 pieces.

PEFC certified wood packaging is also growing in popularity. PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) oversees and promotes sustainable forest solutions. There are some packaging companies that offer wooden jar and bottle tops, or containers made for fragrances and perfumes. This packaging option is pricier than typical packaging solutions, however.

Other Considerations

             Before choosing your packaging, consider the following:

  • How will you fill the container?
  • Will this packaging fit your shipping needs?
  • Is the packaging easy to display?
  • Is the package large enough to hold a compliant label?
  • Do you know how to sterilize your containers?

Filling Containers

              When purchasing your containers, be sure to consider how you will fill them. Bottles and jars may be a bit easier to fill; if you prefer tubes, there are a few different ways you can go about filling them. If you are filling them by hand, some cosmetic makers find that a large syringe is an easy way to fill multiple tubes in quick succession. Others use recycled squeeze bottles such as large ketchup bottles. Whichever option you choose, make sure you have a plan for filling them; your package may be eye catching, but if it takes more time to fill it then a more standardized container, you are potentially wasting money.

Shipping

               As discussed earlier in the glass section, be sure that you choose packaging that will hold up during shipping; if you are concerned about its durability, be sure to research a cushion for your products so that they arrive to your customer safe and sound.

Displaying and Storing Your Product

               Tubes are easy to use; not as easy to display. Be sure to consider how you want to display your product if you are selling at a market or fair. Are you looking for a product that can stand on it’s own, or that is easily stackable? Thinking about how you will be storing and displaying your product in advance can save you a lot of frustration in the future!

Sterilizing Your Containers

               Be sure to check with your supplier to make sure your containers have already been sterilized prior to shipping. While containers may arrive clean, many will still need to go through a sterilization process before being suitable for cosmetic use. Taking this extra step will help you to ensure safety for your customers, and your business.

Deciding on a package for your product can seem overwhelming, but as long as you have a plan going into the ordering process, you will cut down the time it takes to look for the perfect container. Know your goal, whether it is to have sustainable packaging or a fully customized container, be sure to visit several suppliers and be ready to ask questions to make sure you are getting exactly what you want. And, as always, make sure to include a compliant, easy to read label so that your customer knows exactly what they are purchasing.

What is the most important quality you look for when searching for containers? We want to know! Comment below, or on our Facebook post for this article and tell us (or show us!) how you package your time.