Branding in Product Photography – Who Needs a Banner?

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You may have signed into Etsy, recently, and cried the same cry the rest of us have, at some point, over the last few week: ‘Where is my shop banner??!!’. For some, the banner is simply quintessential mark of being an Etsy shop. Others feel it’s an important part of their shop branding. Whether Etsy decides to stick with the trial ‘banner-free’ layout or not, the testing alone is stirring up trouble for a lot of Etsy sellers.

And that’s not Etsy’s fault.

While we all love having a big, personalized sign on our shop just like a brick-and-mortar store, you have to ask yourself this: If a brick and mortar store’s sign fell, or a light broke and it had to be taken down for repair, would their entire shop lose branding? Nope. If Kohl’s, Target, Victoria Secret, or Old Navy didn’t have a sign on the front, I can almost guarantee you would still know the store on sight.

As Etsy sellers, we don’t want to be Old Navy. That’s why we make handmade items. However, we can take many of the principles of branding and marketing and apply them to our work as well. And, we should, if we expect to be successful.

When Etsy takes away the shop banner, what are we left with? Photos. And our product photos are exactly where the majority of our branding should be in an online shopping platform. They should stand out in such a way that people not only want to click on them, but so your products are recognized right in the search function, or even on Pinterest, before the customer ever makes it into your (potentially banner-less) shop.

Lets take a look at some Etsy sellers who are getting branding right – even on a budget!

Twisted Tree Occassions

Jessica at Twisted Tree Occasions has stuck with the popular white background a lot of sellers use on Etsy. Many feel this is necessary in order to land on a front-page treasury, but you can absolutely have a successful Etsy shop without the treasuries and front-page listing. This background works well, however, for Jessica’s products. She helps her photos stand out from others in the ‘search’ pages by adding brightly colored string to each of her photos which, in turn, brings a cohesive look to her shop as a whole. (Sidenote: Jessica also has great branding in her original shop, Twisted Tree Supplies, where you can find adorable labels, tags, packaging, and findings!)


Lisa from ElainaDesignStudios is one of thousands of jewelry sellers on Etsy. It’s easy for your photos and shop to get lost in the Etsy jewelry world. Lisa uses vintage books and the same patterned backdrop in her photos, but not in all of them. In some photos, you can’t see the backdrop. In others, she doesn’t use books. However, you can spot her photos in a search and, once you click on her shop, the photos all work together well while providing different elements of interest.



KJ, from Lit & Co., is one of my favorite sellers who has moved away from the standard white backgrounds. Not only do the photos stand out in a search because they are bold and different, but KJ uses the product packaging right in the branding of her store. This is an excellent, smart move for many reasons: 1) It’s hard for someone to claim your products as theirs and steal your photos. 2) Branding, branding, branding! 3) You’re saving time and money and 4) Customers on Etsy LOVE cute packaging, so you’re showing them a selling point of your products while bringing together the branding and look of your shop.


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Kass, from The Seed Supply, also uses super cute packaging and logos in her product photography. The packaging in these photos pull triple duty – 1) They bring together the aesthetic of the shop as a whole. 2) They bring the shop name and sometimes logo into the shop itself – useful if the photos are posted elsewhere OR if Etsy banners disappear completely and 3) They show customers how cute and useful the seed packaging is – no more drawers full of little envelopes! The branding for The Seed Supply is the same across the board – Kass uses the same fonts, photo filters, and lighting in her Pinterest photos, Facebook photos, and on the store website!

So there you have it – branding, without an Etsy banner! 

Like this article? Check out my articles on Product Photography and Listing Tips!

Your Buyers Want More Than Colors and Dimensions!

Write Listings That Stand Out!

There were a million places I could start this series and, chronologically, it would make the most sense to start with something like ‘Picking your shop name’ or ‘Creating your product line’. We’re not going to work chronologically, though, for two reasons:

1) I want established Etsy sellers to have the ability to jump right in with us and

2) Listing descriptions are a very important part of Etsy selling – the listings description is where the customer ‘hears’ your voice. All too often, when the seller tries to establish a voice, they wind up doing so to match the business name rather than creating a business name that matches their style and voice. How backward is that?

My listings are also my second most complimented feature on my Etsy/Blog, so I like to think I’m pretty good at writing descriptions that sell. I mean, they do sell. (Photography is my numero uno complimented feature, for those wondering).

Listing descriptions, almost as much as photos (we’ll have a whole photography tip series, soon!), really sell an item. If a customer has any questions about the seller, how the item is made, dimensions, etc., they’ll look to the listing for help. And, even more important on Etsy, they’re looking for personality in that listing because they know they’re buying from an individual and not some wholesaler on Ebay or a big box store. The key to product listings is to make sure you include all of the information needed, without overwhelming the customer, while maybe (hopefully) even winning them over with you at the same time.

Tip #1) Hit the Important Stuff First

Straight off, tell the customer what they’re getting. If they’re getting 3 coordinating, hand-painted,  5×7 cards with matching envelopes, write that they’re getting 3 coordinating, hand-painted, 5×7 cards with matching envelopes. Keep it short and sweet. Some customers only want to know the nitty gritty, and they’ll want to find it without having to read the rest of the fluff.

Tip #2) Sell your item

This is my favorite part – in my shop, it’s called {The Story}. Here, you’re going to tell the customer how or why the product was made. Here, you’ll also inject some of your own personality. If you sell bath products, tell them how you came up with the combination of scents and what it feels like to smell or use that product. Use sense words, and really put them in the position of using or wearing your product. If I see a quote print that I like, I may buy it. If I see a quote print that I like with an item description telling me that it’s perfect for over-the-office-desk motivation, I’m way more likely to buy it. Why? Because I’m not buying a print, I’m buying motivation. Customers who buy my bracelets don’t buy them because they’re bracelets, they buy them because the words on them make them feel happy, loving, cherished, nostalgic, etc. – I’m selling the feeling that the bracelets give my customers. 

A-ha…see how that works? See why this is important? This little tidbit is what wins over the ‘eh’ customers. 

Tip #3 – The Details

Follow up with the rest of the details, including any sales you may have going on, whether or not you have free shipping – this is generally the ‘wow’ factor. I don’t have a ‘wow’ factor in my listings because I change my promotions quite often and have almost 100 listings – talk about a pain in the tush! What I do have, though, is a couple of links to other listings. We’ll talk about that in a bit.

Whether you have a ‘wow’ factor or not, this is the place to put other important dimensions, colors, or item details. Is it hypoallergenic? Organic? Fair trade? Is it hand-stamped and needs a ‘don’t expect perfection’ disclaimer (in much nicer, positive words!)? Stick that information here.

Tip #4 – Keep them Moving, and Upsell!

Make sure to include links at the end of your listing! Not only do you want to upsell your customers and remind them that you have other items they can add on or purchase as well, but this keeps the ‘maybe’ or ‘eh’ readers moving around your shop rather than leaving or heading back to the dreaded Etsy search bar. I have a couple on my listings, but the two I use most are these:

‘Like this bracelet? Want two? Check out the my 2 for $25 (that’s 10% off!) listings here!’ with a link,

and ‘Not quite what you’re looking for? Order a custom bracelet with a quote or phrase of your own!’ with a link

You can also include links to your shop sections, your About me – anything the customer might really find relevant and interesting, or further moving them towards being a paying customer.

Tip #5 – Promote, Promote, Promote!

You’re going to do two things here. First, promote yourself! Do you have a blog or awesome Instagram where customers can find discounts? Let them know. Were you featured in an article, Etsy blog post, or in a magazine? Link that here, too! Remind the customer that you’re awesome, and why, and they’ll want to buy from you. True story. Second, add in any customer testimonials here as well. I knoooow, they have the customer reviews section for people to read, but how often do we get emails from customers rather than actual reviews? Use them wisely!

Speaking of ‘we’, Bonus Tip Time: Unless you are a shop with more than one person, don’t use the term ‘we’. You’re an individual. Folks on Etsy like buying from individuals. Use personal pronouns and speak in first person!

And that’s it for our Etsy Seller Tips on writing listings that sell! If you like this article, you’re going to want to sign up for the Vagabond Vantage newsletter because I’m bringing together a whole series of these awesome tips, plus an eCourse, eBook, AND live community for Etsy sellers to grow their business! Sign up to stay in the loop!