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Artyarns is "Brand New" after project with American Express

Posted By TNNA Staff, Monday, November 15, 2010
Updated: Friday, August 26, 2011

The National NeedleArts Association continually seeks more ways to help our members succeed. One way is to ensure our members have access to basic business education covering topics such as business start up, marketing, accounting and finance, inventory and merchandising, industry standards and trends, just to name a few.

Kathy Elkins (WEBS – America’s Yarn Store and previous TNNA Board member), sent me an email last week about Artyarns, a hand-painted yarn manufacturer who also happens to be a TNNA member. TNNA is perpetually seeking more ways to help our small business members succeed. One of them is to provide basic business education. Artyarns was recently part of an American Express project promoting best marketing practices for small businesses.

It was really a fascinating and fantastic project. Chosen to be part of Amerian Express’s Project RE:Brand, Artyarns was given the opportunity to go through a process that was truly transformational.

Matched with a talented NYC based design group (OFFICELAB), Artyarns engaged in a re-branding project. Ok, so what in the world does that mean?

Branding refers to a company’s identity . . . not just a logo, but the core principles driving everything the company does.

Ask any marketing consultant (including me), and they’ll tell you that’s where you begin to build success. Often overlooked, however, for lack of money . . . or time, or a misunderstanding of the importance of it all, creating a brand should be one of the initial elements in the development of a comprehensive marketing plan.

Most small businesses start out with an idea of something to sell, then simply set off to sell it.
To be very simplistic:
Marketing is about sellers connecting with buyers. Connection requires communication of some sort, as well as the building of trust between the parties. Branding is about creating and communicating an "image” to those buyers. . . not just the outer visual, not just the product . . . but the feel and essence of the company. . . a whole identity . . . and it should include a complete guide for your approach to all your marketing strategies.

This isn’t a simple process. There are some hard questions to answer. You seek to develop a real understanding of yourself, your product, your vision . . . and your customer. It takes thought and effort . . . and professionals to help turn those ideas into visual form with a practical implementation plan. (I often feel more like a psychologist than a business consultant during these types of exercises.)

Although I don’t mean for this to be a plug for all the marketing and branding consultants out there, I would like to stress the professional aspect here. You don’t necessarily need to go to NYC to find great professionals, either . . . but Uncle Joe who just got a laptop isn’t going to cut it.

The easiest way to explain it all is to simply take a look at the 3 videos documenting their experience at: http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/video/understanding-the-brand

They really tell a great story. American Express has a long tradition of supporting small businesses. This is just one example.

I had a quick conversation with Iris Schreier one of the founders of the company . . . and personally involved in the whole process. (She’s been amazingly busy since this project and says she isn’t done implementing all the changes.) I had so many questions for her (like, "How were they chosen?”), and hope we can have an on-going dialogue about the importance of this experience for Artyarns.

I’ll follow up with more of our conversation later. In the meantime, if you have any questions for Iris, please feel free to submit them here.

Tags:  Marketing Needlearts  Needlework News 

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