Pictured: Damien Fate in front of one of his many successful Second Life brands
Creating things in Second Life is a fun and rewarding experience. At the same time, marketing those creations can be tedious and frustrating. Unfortunately, you have to be good at both in order to have a successful business. I’d like to share with you some tips, from practical steps to take before your first sale, to ways of thinking about running a small business, that will make starting out easier and pain-free.
Creating Your Brand - the Nitty Gritty Guide
Branding is important. Which of these stores below would you feel more confident buying from?
It may be completely wrong, but my gut is telling me one of these stores is selling quality products. (The other makes me feel, oh, so very sad.)
Graphic design is hard. No seriously, it’s really hard. My job was once getting small businesses’ crappy marketing material ready to be printed professionally. (I realize you’ve been “in the business” for 20 years sir, I’m just wondering if we could re-think 8 of your 9 fonts. Also, why does literally everything have a drop shadow?) Nothing will make you appreciate good design like bad design, and though I am far from being a graphic designer, I do have a few tips:
Pick a Typeface - and Stick To It
When you walk into an Apple store, every written word you see is set in Myriad. The signage, the boxes, even the employee name tags. Everything you read reinforces the brand. I recommend doing the same for your store, it makes everything easier.
Pick a typeface that is simple and timeless. Using different weights within the same typeface is always easier than trying to pair different typefaces together. Good choices include Futura (Wes Anderson Movies), Gill Sans (London Railway), Gotham (Obama Campaign), Myriad (Apple), and Helvetica (lazy people). If you want to go serif, pick Garamond or Caslon. And if you’re an 18th century dandy, feel free to use Didot, Bodoni, or Optima.
Create a Logo - Simple is Fine
Again, simple is better. If you aren’t a graphic artist, the best logo is probably just the name of your store, set in the typeface you selected. Adjust the tracking (distance between letters) until it feels like the correct weight. For instance:
Create Some Banners - So Many F***ing Banners
The Second Life Marketplace allows you to upload a store banner and store image which are displayed in various places. The Banner is 700 pixels wide by 100 pixels high. The store image is 45 by 45 pixels. I would recommend making all of your social media banners at the same time. The easiest way, to get a decent looking result, is to take a photo of your favorite item, and place the logo you just made on top of it. Here are some examples from my HMY store:
Marketplace Listing Template - a Tisket, a Tasket, Create a Listing Template
Next, you’ll want to layout a photoshop template that you’ll use to create the main image on all of your marketplace listings. Having a unified appearance gives a good impression to your customers, and looks more professional. You’re letting people know that you pay attention to details, and by putting in the work now, you’ll quickly be able to create new listings later.
I go with the theory that the less clutter in your main image, the better. Customers will be able to see the price, the permissions, and other information within the listing itself, so why crowd the image? Here is an example page from my store:
Repeated elements are carried through each listing thanks to the use of a template. The name of the item is always at the bottom. The logo and tag-line is always at the top. Type is consistent (Futura, if you’re wondering). All I have to do is change the item photo and the name within photoshop. All of the persistent elements are grouped into folders, within the layers palette, that I rarely even open when I’m making a new listing.
Now that we've covered the basics of branding, I'll cover everything you need to know to actually launch your business into the virtual world. Coming soon!