branding

Small Business Spotlight: Pygmy Cloud

Pygmy Cloud Small Business Spotlight interview on Digibloom Blog

IN The SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: DIANA from PYGMY CLOUD GIVES THE LOW-DOWN ON RUNNING HER BRAND OF WEATHER-THEMED HOMEWARE AND GIFTS

Pygmy Cloud Diana and Dave in their creative studio

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Diana and I co run a little brand called Pygmy Cloud with my partner Dave. We are based in Walthamstow, north London and run Pygmy Cloud alongside our freelance careers - I work as a still life photographer, mainly photographing the products of indie designers & makers. Dave works as a freelance illustrator and goes under the moniker Hatch.

Describe your business

Pygmy Cloud is an online shop based in London. We ship our weather themed products all around the world and take part in the odd craft market to meet fellow independent designers and of course, our lovely customers!

What inspires you?

Pygmy Cloud is mainly inspired by the weather and we aim to put a happy spin on the clouds & rain of England. Using this theme as a starting point, we design playful gifts, stationery, homewares and toys. Our most popular item (and my favourite!) is the Cloud Coaster range, which comes in matte white acrylic or wood veneer.

Why did you decide to start a business?

I started Pygmy Cloud in 2011 as a hobby and I made felt cloud decorations to brighten up my rental flat. My friend and fellow crafter encouraged me to set up an Etsy shop (an online market place for handmade wares) and it spiralled from there. Dave joined a year later, bringing his illustrated characters to join the Pygmy Cloud world. He introduced us to Grumpy Bear, the Woodsman and other fun creatures!

Has the direction of your business changed over time?

What started as a casual hobby, has grown into a small business. We started selling on one online market place and now we sell on 4 marketplaces as well as our own website and in person at designer-maker markets. Social media has become a big part of our business and we love interacting with our followers and showing what we get up to behind the scenes - Instagram is my favourite as it's all about the visuals.

What challenges have you faced as a small business owner?

Finding good suppliers can be tough and prototyping is expensive. I love designing new products and being creative, but sourcing materials and unearthing reliable and skilled manufacturers can be a bit of a treasure hunt. I have managed to find a great bunch of suppliers to work with, who are really helpful which I'm pleased with.

What’s the most rewarding aspect to running your own business?

Seeing my ideas come to life is really exciting and getting feedback from customers is lovely. People often post pictures on social media such as Instagram and Facebook of their Pygmy Cloud products saying how pleased they are to receive their delivery - this makes me really happy!

What advice would you give to new businesses that are just starting out?

I would say, writing a casual business plan really helps add focus and work out what you are trying to achieve. I did this for the first time last year and feel my business grew a lot faster because of it. I set goals of how much I wanted to turn over, how many events to participate it, to host my first solo pop up shop, set goals of how much I wanted to interact with my customers on social media, research who my customer is, work on my brand image through photography and a new website - those kind of things. If you want to progress your business - do it, do it now!

What's next for your business?

I am working on developing a few new products, which are secret for the time being!

Learn more about Pygmy Cloud and connect with Diana via social media using these links:

Website: pygmycloud.com 
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/pygmycloud/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pygmycloud
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pygmycloud
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PygmyCloud

Fancy winning some Pygmy Cloud goodies? Enter this giveaway to win a Pygmy Cloud stationery bundle in celebration of National Stationery Week! Competition ends May 5th 2016.

Pimp Your Facebook Page Like A Pro!

BRAND YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE LIKE A BOSS. MAKE IT CONSISTENT, COHESIVE, AND CREDIBLE. IN-CREDIBLE.

Learn how to customise your Facebook page tabs

I try to have a consistent theme from my blog to my social media pages and posts (see my Facebook business page). Your branding needs to be recognisable throughout your website, social media, packaging, logo, business cards, etc. If you're starting out with your business and don't know how to go about visual branding, here are some tips!

Once you know your brand colours, voice, fonts, etc you can apply them to your Facebook page in the form of a cover image/header, profile photo, social media posts, and your app tabs. Anything that can be branded should be branded!

Small Business Branding Tips For Facebook

1.) Creating app tab Icons for your Facebook business page

The app tabs on the left of your page (mine are purple in above pic) can be customised. You can either create an image of 111 x 74 pixel dimensions in graphics software (in which case scroll through my Canva guide and read from the Facebook page bit), or if you haven't tried using Canva yet, it's a bit of a game-changer for those that aren't a Photoshop whizz! Sign up to Canva, and follow my quick guide:

When you see this page, select "more" on the right hand side.

When you see the above screen, select "more" on the right hand side.

I figured out that the Gift Certificate template has the same ratio as the Facebook App Tabs. Select Gift Certificate (middle row, far right.)

I figured out that the Gift Certificate template has the same ratio as the Facebook app tabs. Select Gift Certificate (middle row, far right.)

Pick a background using the background tab, or upload your own image via the upload tab. Bear in mind that Facebook app tabs are small, so keep it simple.

Using Canva To Customise Facebook App Tabs

You can pick shapes, colours, text etc and add to your design. There are lots of free elements to choose from, or pay $1 each for the *premium* ones. When you've finished, click "download" and save to your device.

In graphics software e.g. Photoshop, resize your image to 111 x 74 pixels.

2.) customising the app tab Icons on your Facebook page

On your Facebook page, go to "settings", then "apps".

Branding Your Facebook Page
Branding Custom Tabs On Facebook Page

Choose the app you'd like to change from the list of apps you use. Click "edit settings".

Custom App Tabs On Facebook Page

When this dialogue box appears, rename the tab e.g. Follow My Pinterest, and save. Where it says "custom tab image", click "change".

Changing Facebook Tabs

Hover over the image and click where it says "edit". Choose your image file, and voila! Have a look at your page to make sure it looks *amazeberries, and then upload matching images for consistency.

Designing Facebook Page Tabs

Further Reading

*even better than amazing OR amazeballs.

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Defining Your Brand's Visual Identity Using Colour

Your brand colours count towards a cohesive visual identity

Brands in-the-know will create their own set of brand guidelines. This usually includes tone of voice (think social media, advertising, etc), and visual style when utilising typefaces, images and colour palettes. It's all about having a recognisable, cohesive brand. See some examples here. This post is about one element of your brand's visual identity: defining your brand colours.

Experts talk about the psychology of colour, how it will make your customer feel, how you must research colours and they must resonate with your audience etc, but I prefer a more organic approach - if you are selling to people like you, pick colours you like!

There are plenty of websites offering colour palette pickers, and I like using Color Palette FX. Upload an image and it will display the colours from it. This works well if you have a photo that defines your brand e.g. has many different bright colours or has muted pastel hues, etc.

branding your small business using colour palette

Click on each colour you like to find the hex code (the number/code used in computer applications to represent colours). Make a note of the hex codes as you can then use the exact same colours for all your branding elements.

hex colours for online branding

See how nicely some of these colours go together? I warn you, it's pretty addictive! So here, Mountbatten Pink has the hex number: #997788. Pick a few colours that work well together, and then set about creating your images & web presence with them.

If you already have a website, upload a screenshot instead of an image to Color Palette FX.

In many cases when creating images online, you'll have the opportunity to enter your hex codes where there is a colour picker. Here is one of the places you can find the hex code in Photoshop:

Appoint specific colours to particular elements e.g. pale purple for text headings, dark purple for borders, mid blue for links, etc.

Further reading:

If you already have your branding fine-tuned, please do share how you came about picking your colours in the comments below.

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Instagram Tips for Creative Small Businesses

Instagram Tips for Best Practice + Awesome Hashtags to Build your Brand

When building your brand on Instagram, bear in mind these 5 key points:

Target your audience: who is your demographic? Post content they can relate to and enjoy through your images, and connect with them through your captions. Be sure to respond to their comments and check out their accounts too!

Be consistent: if you're posting cheery colourful images, don't suddenly post a dimly lit photo of your half-eaten kebab on a Saturday night out. While your account will evolve over time, try to keep it on-brand and considered. Popular Instagram accounts usually have a distinct, cohesive look and feel, and people should recognise your brand aesthetic across all of your online profiles.

Tell your story: tell the authentic story of your brand through imagery and captions. What's happening behind the scenes? Post work-in-progress images, macro images to show detail, how your products look in different settings, your creative lifestyle, studio, customer appreciation pics, your muse (cat), etc.

Be organised: make a plan or keep a calendar of upcoming events and occasions that are relevant to your brand. Post about these, with the addition of any daily or weekly opportunities to post such as #caturday, #throwbackthursday, #mondaymotivation, etc.

Convert your brand account to an Instagram Business profile. This will enable you to add extra business information and contact details to your profile, plus have access to Instagram Insights (top right of your screen). Insights provide simple, useful data about your follower demographic, follower engagement, etc.

Additional points to consider:

  • According to research from Buffer, the magic number of hashtags to use on Instagram for highest interactions is 11+
  • You can post hashtags in a comment on your own post immediately after your image uploads to make your post look neater and less spammy, though the longer it takes to post the comment, the lower down your image will appear in the hashtag lists (in order of recency). I recommend having lists of relevant hashtags saved in your phone to copy/paste in a comment immediately after uploading your image.
  • Use a variety of different types of hashtags - be broad, and be niche.
  • Research translations of popular hashtags to expand your audience to other countries, e.g. #blackandwhite #blancoynegro #noiretblanc.
  • Look at the hashtags your peers are using for ideas.
  • When clicking through a hashtag, note the 'related hashtag' suggestions at the top of your screen for more ideas.
  • Look for local hashtags that are relevant to your posts e.g. #londonmakers, and add your city/area using the location feature.
  • Post at optimal times. Discover popular days and times that your followers are most active by using Instagram Insights (with your free business profile). Bear in mind that Instagram's algorithm does not show images in chronological order anymore. The insights may reflect when your followers are online in general which can be useful!
  • Use hashtags according to upcoming events and occasions if your posts are relevant, e.g. selling Valentine's cards.
  • Use words that you use to describe your products elsewhere or to other people, such as the materials, methods, uses, the mood, etc.
  • Avoid ugly filters. VSCO app has some lovely free image filters (when used effectively), but Instagram filters are usually best used in (extreme) moderation. Brightness, contrast, temperature, and fade are the good tools, but natural light is your best friend. If in doubt, leave it out!
  • If you're promoting products/services in your posts, be sure to have a link to your shop/website in your bio. Don't make other people do the detective work. I have given up trying to find the online shops of some sellers I've wanted to buy from in the past. Don't lose those sales!
  • Never ever ever (this is a bugbear of mine, can you tell?) EVER post a link to one of your Instagram photos on a Twitter post without an image. Tweets with an Instagram link receive 52% fewer retweets (according to Buffer).

I've listed hashtag suggestions from several creative categories for those needing a head start. Some of the hashtags cross over categories, so have a good rummage through the lists below and pick any that are useful to you. If you have any to add, please pop them in the comments so I can update my lists!

Creative business

#brainstorming #branding #businesscards #businessowner #businesstips #buylocal #creativebusiness #creativepreneur #digitalnomad #dowhatyoulove #dreambigworkhard #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #etsy #etsygifts #etsyseller #girlboss #goaldigger #greateriscoming #lovemyjob #marketing #mompreneur #nolimitations #mycreativebiz #savvybusinessowner #shoplocal #shopsmall #smallbiz #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #solopreneur #startup #success #takemorerisks #thoughtleader #womeninbusiness #workanywhere #workfromanywhere

Creative lifestyle

#abmlifeisbeautiful (abm = A Beautiful Mess blog) #curatedlife #darlingmovement #darlingweekend #documentyourdays #flashesofdelight #folkgood #liveauthentic #livefolk #livethelittlethings #momentswithsunday #morningslikethese #mybeautifulmess #nothingisordinary #peoplescreatives #petitejoys #pursuepretty #thatsdarling #theartofslowliving #thedulcetlife #thehappynow

Handmade/crafts/makers/creatives

A photo posted by Katelyn Morse (@katejerryy) on

#artisan #artsandcrafts #bespoke #buyfolk #calledtobecreative #colorfullife #craftastherapy #craftlife #craftmanship #craftsposure #create #creativehappylife #creativityfound #creatorslane #design #designerslife #diyer #diyproject #handbuilt #handcraft #handcrafted #handmadeisbetter #handmadewithlove #handsthatmake #handwork #helloimhandmade #homeinthestudio #homemade #instadesign #inthestudio #knowwhomadeit #localcraft #lovehandmade #madebyhand #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #makersvillage #makeyourown #oneofakind #psimadethis #supporthandmade #thehandmadeparade #thenativecreative #uniquegifts #wearethemakers #yourrightbrainiscalling

Illustration/art/design

A photo posted by H A T C H (@hatch_art) on

#artistsofinstagram #artoftheday #artsanity #artstagram #artwork #dailysketch #doodle #doodling #draweveryday #drawing #drawingoftheday #figuredrawing #graphite #illustration #illustrationart #illustrationoftheday #instaart #instasketch #modernart #myart #newartwork #originalart #painting #penandink #pencilart #pencildrawing #sketchbook #sketchoftheday #stilllife #urbansketch #wallart #watercolor #watercolour #wip #workinprocess #workinprogress #worldofartists

Ceramics

A photo posted by jono smart (@jonosmart) on

#ceramica #ceramicart #ceramicdesign #clay #claythings #contemporarycraft #craft #craftmanship #glaze #handmadeceramics #handsculpted #handthrown #homewares #instapottery #keramik #porcelain #potsinaction #potter #pottery #potterywheel #raku #stoneware #underglaze #wheelthrown #wheelthrowing

Woodwork

#carvedwood #customwood #endgrain #finewoodworking #furnituredesign #handcraft #handtools #lasercut #reclaimedwood #rusticfurniture #salvagedwood #toolporn #woodart #woodburning #woodcarving #woodcraft #woodcreative #wooddecor #wooddecoration #woodengraving #woodshop #woodturning #woodwork #woodworking #workshop

Textiles/crochet/knitting/sewing

A photo posted by Erin Barrett (@sunwoven) on

#crochet #crochetdesigner #crochetpatterns #crochetpillow #crochettherapy #crochetting #ecodyeing #ecoprinting #grannychic #handknit #handstitched #handwoven #ihavethisthingwithtextiles #ihavethisthingwiththread #knitsofinstagram #knitstagram #knittersofinstagram #leathercraft #moderncrochet #naturaldye #plantdyed #plantpigment #seamstress #sweaterweather #tapestrycrochet #textileart #textiledesign #wallhanging #yarnaddict

Fashion/clothing/style

A photo posted by Baiba Rēdere (@woocoon) on

#clothingline #consciousfashion #couture #currentlywearing #dailystyle #designerdiaries #ethicalcloset #ethicalfashion #eveningwear #fairtradefashion #fashionphotographer #fashionblogger #fashionbrand #fashiondesigner #fashioneditorials #fashiongram #fashionista #fashionlover #fashionrevolution #fashionstatement #fashionstory #fblogger #folkfashion #futurefashion #handmadewardrobe #highfashion #igstyle #instafashion #limiteditem #lookbook #luxurywear #neocouture #outfitoftheday #personalstyle #slowfashion #sneakerhead #streetwear #style #stylediaries #sustainablefashion #todayiamwearing #upcycledfashion #urbanwear #vintagedress #vintagestyle #wearableart #whatiwore #whattowear #whomadeyourclothes

Accessories/jewellery

#accessories #artisanjewelry #contemporaryjewellery #diamondsareforever #ecobling #ecojewellery #etsyjewelry #fashionjewellery #fashionjewelry #finejewellery #handcraftedjewelry #handmadejewellery #handmadejewelry #instajewelry #jewellery #jewelleryaddict #jewellerybox #jewellerydesign #jewellerydesigner #jewellerylover #jewellerymaker #jewellerymaking #jewelleryoftheday #jewelry #jewelrygram #jewelrydesigner #jewelryjunkie #jewelryporn #jewelrystore #silverjewellery #statementjewelry #weekendstyle

Interior design/decor

A photo posted by @minilearners on

#antiqueclique #artisanwalls #diydecor #dreamkitchen #furnituredesign #homedecor #homedesign #homestaging #homesweethome #homewares #ihavethisthingwithfloors #instadecor #instahome #interior #interiordecor #interiordesign #interiordesignideas #interiordetails #interiorinspiration #interiorinspo #interiorstyle #instahome #kidsroomdecor #kitchendesigner #kitcheninspo #livingroomdecor #lovedecor #lovehome #luxeinteriors #modernhome #nurserydecor #pursuepretty #prettywalls #roomdecor #roomsetting #shanty2chic #sharemystyle #shelfie #staginghomes #statementpiece #wallart #walldecor

Typography/hand drawn lettering

A photo posted by Tim Easley (@timeasley) on

#artoftype #brushcalligraphy #brushlettering #calligritype #customtype #goodtype #graphicsmob #handdrawtype #handdrawntype #handlettered #handlettering #handmadefont #handmadetype #handwriting #lettering #lettering_co #letteringdesign #letteringhub #ligaturecollective #moderncalligraphy #penmanship #script #showusyourtype #signwriting #thedailytype #thedesigntip #thefinelab #typeeverything #typegang #typematters #typespire #typism #typoart #typographist #typography

Photography (also see 'creative lifestyle' hashtags)

A photo posted by Eri (@sse0055) on

#architecturephotography #blackandwhitephotography #bleachmyfilm #exklusive_shot #expofilm #fashionphotography #filmisnotdead #filmphotography #justgoshoot #landscapephotography #lensculture #lookslikefilm #macrophotography #mobilephotography #myphotography #naturephotography #passionpassport #photographyislifee #photographylove #photographylovers #photographysouls #photooftheday #portraitphotography #quietthechaos #reachedsouls #seekingthestars #stayandwander #staybrokeshootfilm #storytelling #streetphotography #tangledinfilm #toycamera #travelphotography #visualarchitects #wildlifephotography

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