People who have followed me for some time will know that I’m a huge fan of branding – making my own products unique and using specific packaging and bundling techniques to really stand out from the crowd and allow me to charge premium prices for the products I sell.
In today’s blog post I want to go into detail on how you can do same – take a simple, un-branded product and turn it into a money making machine! Without further ado, let’s get started!
What is this concept all about?
The idea is very simple – you take an un-branded product and using your own brand/packaging, turn it into a unique product you can then sell on eBay, Amazon, your own online shop or any other distribution channel (including wholesale).
What is an un-branded product?
By un-branded I simply mean a product that has no brand on it – no logos/company names on the product itself or its packaging. Usually these products will come un-packaged or packaged in plain boxes or clear bags.
What are the advantages of branding these products?
There are several important advantages to creating your own branded products versus selling un-branded ones:
1) Product uniqueness. By having your own brand printed on the product/packaging you essentially create a UNIQUE offer in the marketplace. It doesn’t matter that other people may be selling the exact same product – due to the brand and packaging yours is unique.
Take bottled water for example – it’s water!!!! But you’ll find at least 10 different brands of bottled water in your local supermarket (with various price tags). And essentially what these companies are selling is the BRAND value, i.e. the perception of what that brand is worth, as at the end of the day water is just water.
We can use this paradox of people’s perception towards a brand/product packaging and use it to our advantage. This works in almost any niche and with any product, if a proper branding strategy is applied.
eBay is a super competitive marketplace and often hundreds of sellers list exactly the same product. It’s not easy to compete with such listings apart from using the lowest price strategy, which as we all know, can’t be the base of a sustainable, long term business (shift hundreds of packages a day to make minimum wage?).
So by creating your own branded products, you practically almost eliminate your competition, as NO ONE will have the exact same product offer as you – which is very powerful.
2) Increase perceived value. If you’re smart enough to create a brand that visually really appeals to people, they will happily pay more for it. This means you can charge higher prices than your competitors and still sell a lot! This means higher profit margins for your business.
The key to success here is to really create a brand that HELPS you sell the product, not the other way around. We all have seen various Chinese branded products selling on eBay – in most cases these Chinese brands are very weak – the name is bad, the logo is bad and the packaging is bad.
These brands in 99% of cases look CHEAP and this is NOT what we want to achieve! We want to create a brand that represents the middle and even premium price class, not something cheap. A cheap brand is almost as good as no brand. So it’s very important to do it THE RIGHT WAY! If you’re not ready to put some effort into this, don’t even start.
3) Brand loyalty. If you’re working in a sticky niche market, e.g. a niche with lots of repeat customers, this can work wonders. Imagine a person buys a pair of kid’s shoes from you (your own brand of kids shoes) and they’re very happy with the quality, service provided, delivery etc.
It would only make sense that they’ll look for the same brand the next time they shop online for a new pair of shoes, right? Maybe they won’t specifically search for your brand (as they could forget it) BUT when they see your brand in eBay’s search results, they WILL remember it and the chance of them buying from you is much higher than your competitors.
This won’t happen with every customer of course but I’m just illustrating the power of having your own branded products. Even if 10-20% of your customers make a second purchase from you just because they remember your brand, that’s a significant result and should add a lot of additional profit to your business.
To sum it up – these three advantages are more than enough to make the whole process worthwhile. For years I have based my entire business on this strategy and I’ve taught it to dozens of my 60DBP clients with great results so you can be sure that this WORKS! In one way or another, having your own uniquely branded products really helps you stand out in crowded marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.
There are none, really. Apart from the small initial investment, time and energy you’ll put into branding your own products.
There may be some niches where branding may not yield any advantages but I can’t think of any at this moment! A well branded product will always have a higher chance of selling compared to an un-branded rival, if other conditions are the same.
Where to get un-branded products?
The most popular place you already know of course – China! In reality most of what you see being sold on eBay (un-branded) comes from China. You can learn more about how to import products from China here.
But that doesn’t mean it stops with China – there are still thousands of manufacturers in Europe, the United States of America and other parts of the world. You just have to look for them.
With China it’s very easy as we have these popular B2B portals with millions of products already listed:
With US/Europe based manufacturers it’s not that easy to find them. But you can still do so via:
- Yellow pages
- Trade directories
- Trade shows (BEST!)
- Industry catalogues/magazines
It doesn’t really matter where your supplier is located – most will offer OEM services, if they’re a true manufacturer. OEM means that the supplier will do the branding FOR YOU. But even if they don’t offer OEM service, there are ways to brand the products at your end and we’ll cover them later on in this post.
So now we’ve established the basics of why branding your own products is a good idea and what advantages it gives you – let’s get into the actual branding process and techniques.
What exactly are branded products?
By branded products I mean products that have:
- A brand name/logo on the product itself;
- A brand name/logo on the product’s packaging.
Sometimes branded packaging is not needed and sometimes you don’t need your brand on the product itself.
- If you sell bulk glitter powder, your only worry is to get branded packaging done as you won’t put your brand/logo on the glitter itself;
- If you sell t-shirts, you don’t really need branded packaging as it’s not that important for products like clothing. What you will need though is branded neck tags.
- If you sell MP4 players, people expect it to come in a box. With a product like this, you’ll want to brand the product itself as well as the packaging it comes in.
I hope these examples help clear up the question of whether the product and/or the packaging need to be branded. Sometimes you will need to brand both while other times it’s enough to brand either just the product or just the packaging.
Should you brand products via the manufacturer or do it yourself ‘in-house’?
If you’re a business minded person, you’ll know how important it is to streamline all the processes in your business. This means that ideally you want the manufacturer to brand products for you, using their technology and resources.
Not only does this free up your time, by having the manufacturer brand your products, you gain two further advantages:
1) Better technology. While there are ways to brand products on your own, most likely you won’t have access to the same printing and packaging technologies your supplier has. In most cases, manufacturers will be able to provide you with more packaging options, higher print quality and in general – the finished product will just look better – how it should be with a brand new product coming off the factory line.
2) Cheaper price. Many companies will do branding for you for FREE, if you can meet the required minimum order amount for OEM orders. This means you get your own uniquely branded products and packaging absolutely cost and hassle free! Shipped to you and ready for re-sale without you lifting a finger.
Sometimes you may be asked for an initial, one time fee to cover printing set-up fees (making plates for litho printing for example or die cut for custom sized boxes) but these fees are usually not that high and definitely well worth it taking into account all the advantages we’ve already covered.
So yes, ideally you want your supplier to brand products for you but not all will do this plus there’s one small catch – usually manufacturers will have a certain MOQ for OEM orders. These numbers vary greatly depending on the product and specific manufacturer and can be anything from 10 or 100 up to 1000 and more.
So obviously you won’t always have the buying power to order that many products. In cases like these, your only option will be to brand your products yourself after receiving them from the manufacturer, which we’ll cover later on. But before you give up on your supplier doing this for you, always try to negotiate MOQs! If they ask for 1000 units to be branded, most likely you can cut that by half down to 500, with some negotiating. Offer to pay a slightly higher price or cover the printing set-up costs if that makes financial sense. Do as much as you can to get your manufacturer to brand products for you.
What do you need to start the branding process?
Whether you let the manufacturer brand your products for you OR do it on your own, the first thing you’ll need is the actual BRAND NAME!
We won’t go into detail on how to come up with a great brand name here, that’s another huge topic, but just so you know – having a good brand name is essential to making this work. You want a unique name, ideally something with a little story behind it that APPEALS to your target customer.
For example, if you sell photo frames – a bad brand name would be: Alan’s Photo Frames
It’s bland, and just plain boring! It doesn’t tell you anything good about the product, nor does it increase the perceived value of the product.
A much better name would be:
- Happy Days
- Memories to Keep
I hope you see the difference here. You want a name that is distinct and relates emotionally with the products you sell.
The next step is to get a logo done for your brand. And by logo I don’t mean some cheap clip art mosaic you can get from Fiverr.com. If you plan to have your own branded products, you want a GOOD, high quality logo that looks professional.
You can hire a designer to do your logo from one of the various online marketplaces (like eLance.com), or through my design services here. A decent logo can’t be purchased for 20 quid. Expect to pay a minimum 50 pounds but in most cases, a decent logo will set you back around 100-200 pounds.
Whatever you do, make sure the logo looks professional enough to be put on products PLUS it should be in VECTOR format! Not jpeg or gif but a VECTOR file (.ai, .esp etc.).
Vector files are drawn from scratch, using lines and vector objects AND they can be up-scaled to ANY SIZE without quality loss. This will come very handy when you do product packaging as it requires high resolution and flexibility which .jpeg files simply can’t provide.
If you already have a good looking logo but it’s NOT in vector format, you can hire someone on Fiverr.com to vectorize it for you. This means your .jpeg file will be turned into a vector file by re-drawing everything in vector.
But as I said, ideally get the vector logo file from your designer in the first place so you don’t have to worry about quality issues later on.
Next, you’ll need packaging design. Again, don’t do this on your own, unless you’re a designer by profession. You really need to hire a professional designer to create professional packaging for you. Just like the logo, it should be created in VECTOR format for the best print quality.
Depending on the complexity of the packaging, expect to pay 100-300 pounds for a good looking design.
Don’t forget to include all additional information on the product packaging as well, like your website address, ingredients (in the case of selling food, materials and similar products) and your contact details.
A good idea is to add a barcode as well, in case you plan on selling your product on Amazon’s marketplace or in an offline/wholesale environment. You can get barcodes for this purpose by joining the GS1 (in UK) or buy buying individual barcodes from online re-sellers, such as:
Also, if your product requires an instruction manual, you should also ask your supplier if they’re able to do the printing and insert a manual with each item. This will free up your time and resources. A finishing touch like plastic wrapping around each box can also be important with some types of products and will ensure that BRAND NEW LOOK for your products when they’re received by customers.
Sometimes suppliers will be happy to do the packaging design for you, if you supply them with your logo. In most cases though that means they’ll use their pre-made packaging template and just change the logo to yours. With Chinese manufacturers this often means that the design won’t look good, as it’s simply not something they really find important.
If you truly can’t afford your own packaging design, you can of course explore this option but ideally you should go with a real designer to ensure the design is of the highest quality – after all that is the whole point of branding your products – to increase the perceived value, not decrease it with a budget design!
If you don’t need branded packaging for your product, then all you do is supply your logo (in vector format) and the manufacturer will put it onto the product for you.
When you let your supplier do branding for you, ALWAYS ask for drawings/images and ideally pictures of one prototype to see how it all looks on the product in real life. Don’t take any risks here just by sending off your logo and leaving everything in the hands of your supplier. You need to keep an eye on things and see some examples before the full order is done!
Lastly, on packaging – always ask what options your supplier can offer you as often there are various boxes and packaging styles to choose from. Remember, the idea here is to stand out from the crowd so if everyone else is selling this product in blister packaging, maybe you should go the cardboard box route? Or if everyone else is packing this product in square boxes, maybe you should use wooden boxes, blister packaging, fabric bags or aluminium cases?
These are just examples of course so do whatever makes sense to you and allows your product to be unique.
How to do branding in-house?
Sometimes you just can’t afford to get the branding done in China due to high minimum order requirements. That’s life but it doesn’t mean you can’t brand your products at all. Most products can be branded in one way or another with minimal financial outlay.
1) Tampo printing. This technique can be used with most goods to apply a logo and/or additional graphical information. Tampo printing is wisely used in the corporate gifts industry to create personalised mugs, pens, clocks and various other products.
It’s not really worth buying the equipment and doing this on your own. Simply contact local printers or gift shops who do product customisation and ask for quotes. The more products you want to print, the lower the price will be so make sure your order is still reasonably sized to make it cost effective.
2) Labels. If tampo printing is not accessible to you or it’s simply too expensive for the products you sell; another, cheaper alternative is to use full colour labels. Now, these won’t work in all cases (you don’t want to put a label on a MP4 player for example) but it’s an option you can consider if you sell anything in bags, pots, jars etc.
You can order labels from local or online printers such as Stickylabels.com or do them yourself. But please, don’t buy Avery label paper and print these out with your home inkjet printer. The final result will be far from professional!
If you want to buy the equipment and print your own labels, do it the right way. Get a professional Primera label printer to produce pro quality labels on a budget.
The well-known Dymo label printers can be used for this purpose too. Only with these you’re limited to black & white print outs so make sure this fits in with your overall branding strategy before going down this route.
3) 3D labels (also called Dome Lables). If you’re selling any electronics or other plastic goods but can’t afford tampo printing, 3D labels (Dome Labels) are another option to get your logo on the products. These 3D labels actually sometimes look even better than tampo printing! Their raised, 3D surface really gives that premium look. For example, My OKI C711 printer actually has such a 3D label on it:
And that printer costs 900 pounds!
Here are some companies that offer 3D label printing services:
IMPORTANT!!! Whether you use tampo printing, normal labels or 3D labels, make sure the logo looks great on the product! It should be the right size (not too small or big) and be a contrasting colour. For example, if the product surface is totally black, you’ll want to use a WHITE version of your logo so it stands out. And vice versa for lightly coloured surfaces.
White products are easier to work with of course as any colour (apart from white and very light shades) will look good on the product.
Another tip – If your logo’s composition/proportions are not suitable for the products you sell, don’t be afraid to change it a bit. For example, a logo like this:
It will be very hard to put it on a long/narrow product like a pen. What you do is just take out some graphical elements or re-position them so they look better on the product, like this:
Any designer can easily do such basic editing tasks so don’t be afraid to ask for various logo versions so you have options for various product sizes.
Creating your own branded packaging.
With a product where you need branded packaging done but can’t meet your manufacturer’s MOQ, there are still a few options left that can be done locally:
1) Cardboard boxes. This is the most commonly used packaging type so there won’t be any problem getting plain mono or full-colour printed cardboard boxes made in the UK as long as you need a decent quantity. And by decent I mean at least 1000 identical boxes, anything less than that and you’ll have to pay a premium price per box.
If you sell high priced goods, you can probably even afford to pay a few quid per box for nice full-colour packaging but in most cases you’ll want to order at least 1000 to get the price down to 30-50p or less per box, depending on the complexity of the design.
With custom shaped/sized boxes there will always be that initial set-up cost to create a die cut for you and printing plates (if litho printing is used for example). This is a one-time fee though and not something you have to pay on every order.
Another option I personally use for small boxes when I need loads of different designs done is using amateur/craft die cutters. I have a Grande Mark machine from AccuCut.com:
The way these machines work is you print out the design you want on cardboard and then run it through this machine to cut the box shape:
While this is a more time consuming way of making your own product packaging, after the initial costs of buying the machine and a good printer, the actual cost per box is very low. Plus you can make as many different designs as you want and make boxes in small quantities – as little as just one.
2) Plain boxes with labels. If you can’t afford to get custom boxes done or purchase a die cut machine there’s another, cheaper option available – to buy plain boxes in the size that most closely fits your products and simply add your logo via one of these two methods:
- Put a full colour label on each box; (buy labels from online printers). It may not create the most sophisticated look but at least you’ll have your brand on the box. You can order plain cardboard boxes on eBay or from specialist suppliers.
- Use a stamp. This is a simple and very CHEAP way to brand your cardboard boxes. Simply order a custom sized stamp (as large as you can if the boxes are big) and simply stamp your logo on the boxes.
Make sure to add your website address below the logo to promote your online shop (even if it’s not created yet – you can still just redirect from the domain to your eBay shop).
3) Blister packaging. This is a very popular packaging for products like cables, small electronics, headphones, bolts, screws, craft supplies and much more!
Industrial blister packaging is created in complex machines, which are very expensive to buy and run. Luckily, there’s an alternative – Mr. Blister packaging which in essence creates the same look but allows you to pack your products yourself and at low quantities.
Their prices are very reasonable and the MOQs should be affordable to anyone.
To complete the look with blister packaging you’ll also need paper/cardboard inserts that go inside. Mr. Blister has partnered up with a company who can do this for you (they already know the sizes etc.) OR you can print out inserts on your own, using a quality laser printer (like OKI C711) and cut them out in the required shape with a Grande Mark machine and custom die from CustomShapePros.com
Obviously, buying your own equipment is only viable if you need to do huge volumes or dozens of different designs. In any other case it will be easier and cheaper for you to simply order these inserts from a printing company.
4) Clear bags. Some products can be packed in simple clear bags, like printing paper for example. What you do is buy such clear bags, pack the products in them and add a printed insert with your logo/product description and other information on top.
Alternatively, you can use labels on these bags to make them look better and have your brand name viewable.
There are various companies you can buy such bags from:
Many companies, like ClearBags.com will do custom printing ON THE BAGS for you if you can reach their MOQ. Again, very handy if you need thousands of the same size bags and want to put your logo directly onto them.
IMPORTANT!!! If, due to budget constraints, you have to decide whether to brand your products or the packaging – always prioritise product branding. In the offline world packaging is what people see first but online – it’s the product. Therefore, having your logo/brand applied to products is what’s most important here as it will be seen clearly in the product images you use on eBay and/or your online shop.
Obviously, if you have branded packaging, you’ll include a picture of that too. But if not, just leave it outside your product pictures until you can afford to have custom packaging created too.
As you can now see – its not like custom packaging is accessible only to multi million pound companies! In fact, nowadays, anyone can make their own branded packaging using one of the techniques covered in this post. The only question is – what are you still waiting for?
You have reached the end of this rather long guide; I hope it has opened your eyes to the various possible ways of ‘creating’ your own products via branding.
If you’re serious about your online business, sooner or later you’ll want to start branding your products, as that’s the only way to create a true follower base, increase your products’ perceived value and allow you to charge premium prices while selling the same things everyone else sells. Basically, creating a brand and applying it to your products means you no longer have to compete on price alone!
I have tried to cover all of the most important elements of creating your own custom-branded products to sell on eBay, Amazon, your own shop and various other marketplaces but I’m sure I’ve left some things out. If that’s the case, feel free to post any questions you have below this post in the comments section and I’ll happily help you out!
Good luck with your own branding efforts!