Branding handmade

The handmade movement is in need of brand recognition.  I wonder why more people don’t buy handmade craft, and why it isn’t a more widely-acknowledged concept.

It’s clearly because the handmade movement doesn’t have a multi-gazillion dollar ad budget or a hot shot PR consultant. Craft is fighting against the entire mass-produced, mass-marketed industry for attention from consumers looking for something excitingly fresh.

Craft has a lot going for it in this fight for attention. It’s more individually creative. Quality-made crafts will last longer than any cheap blobject. And more often than not you buy craft directly from the maker.

I’d like a little more recognition for the great things being created as well as a return to an appreciation of the act of making. Aside from yelling it from the rooftop daily, I’m not sure how else to get the message out except for adopting some similar messaging as a group.

We all, as a group, should come up with a tagline (ala Buy Fresh, Buy Local) to speak about the necessity of buying/giving/collecting/loving/can’t-live-without-having handmade craft.

If we came up with the perfect tagline then we all could instantly start using it and sharing it.   We could take this grassroots handmade movement to a new level.

What do you think that tagline should be? What do you use now when you talk about your work?

I’ve really enjoyed being the blogger-in-residence. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments! I love how lively the handmade community is.

editor’s note: thanks so much, nick, for being our 3rd blogger-in-residence! i think you’ve gotten us all thinking more about the meaning of community and the value of handmade. readers, if you’ve enjoyed nick’s posts, please stop by his blog, handmade in pa, for more exciting craft & craft wisdom.

30 thoughts on “Branding handmade

  1. You are so right Nick! We need a tagline – and I’m wondering if it’s possible. One of the awesome things about handmade is the uniqueness of each and every item – could a one size fits all tagline work? I guess if unique were part of it…hmm…will ruminate on this, and hope that other folks come up with genius ideas in the meantime! 😉

  2. Candy, I agree, it’s a tricky proposition but there would be rewards if it were worked out. At the PA Guild of Craftsmen we say ‘Always handmade’ or ‘Buy Handmade. Embrace quality.’ For us its about talking about the work is touched by the hand.

  3. I really like your “Handmade in PA”, how about “Handmade in the USA?” I remember back in the day there was that whole “Made in the USA” campaign to try and get people to buy goods made in the USA. Maybe a spin on that?


  4. Fabulous idea. I think that each artist/crafter would still have their own unique brand as well because that is part of what makes handmade different, but it would be nice to have an overall tagline for us all to use as well.

    I tell people my things are handmade, but I don’t have any default line I say.

  5. the only issue with ‘american made’ or ‘made in the usa’ is it becomes a national issue as opposed to a global issue. i think its a great statement and i know i personally go out of my way to buy local or at least in this hemisphere. what about ‘made by hand’?

  6. Great post Nick! It is an interesting idea. The Buy Fresh, Buy Local does seem to resonate. The 3/50 ( project also seems to hit home too – No doubt both thanks for a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” from both campaigns. Now wait… I think we’ve got the “blood, sweat and tears” part covered- so you’re right all we need is a slogan. :)

  7. my 3 year old asks “who made this?” when she receives anything… in her world people (individuals) make things and there is a clear distinction between that and factory made… and she remembers who has made every thing in our house or whether it was made in a factory :) she also asks where all her food comes from… as in specific location. It’s the 100 mile childhood :)

  8. I think it’s a wonderful idea to brand handmade, particularly fine art and craft handmade.Can we get this onto the agenda for the PGC Chapter Officers’ Retreat next month? Nick, you are one smart man and we, PGC members especially, but artisans all over, are very lucky to have you working on our behalf. Thank you!

  9. I like Cianna Stewarts best (if we are voting:)

    Or: “Rediscover quality. Buy handmade.”

    Can’t think of any better than these at the moment.

  10. Couldn’t you already say that the “handmade pledge” is a movement with it’s own message? I think there are 2 more important things standing in our way than a lack of a tagline: The fact that most people only think of “crafts” as very low-quality work, and that there are so many stores that can sell products so cheap that people don’t realize that the prices that people who make their work by hand are actually fair. Because even if you don’t believe that it isn’t human nature to be selfish and just buy whatever products are cheap and thus benefit them the most, you cannot deny that many people are so underpaid (especially in this current economy) that they cannot afford anything more than the cheap crap that Wal-Mart will sell to them.

    However, if you truly feel that getting the message out through a brand and advertising will work, perhaps a website should be put up solely for accepting donations towards that cause and using that money to actually put advertisements out there. It is how many grass-roots organizations grow.

    1. great points! craft does have a bad reputation because of low-end ‘craft’ (aka crap) from pier one, k-mart and wal-mart. it’s clear they’re terribly made and cheaply priced to sell. those cheap imported crafts really cause havok for makers who deserve to make a living wage, but are questioned about their pricing. (see

      i’m suggesting if we talk about craft in similar terms, we might get even more traction on the message of supporting handmade crafts. it does deserve a logo and ad budget, but makers need to a agree a little on how to talk about themselves. the handmade pledge is a wonderful tool to include in that.

  11. Great thread Nick… Besides my gig as a interior/furniture designer, I also work in marketing for the creative industry. I agree that branding is important to get your message across and would suggest you consider a logo or acronym in addition to the motto. I think it opens up more possibilities and and could potentially be more inclusive of the diverse craft/handmade crowd.

    On my first cup of coffee so I don’t have any actual suggestions for what the message could be (!), but wanted to chip in my two cents regardless… Thanks!

    1. thanks kevin! maybe each state needs to develop something like ‘Pennsylvania-made’ or better yet ‘Handmade in PA’. Each artist creating in that state would put a tag on their work or include it on their business cards.

  12. I think it’s important to buy handmade to support our immediate communities more directly especially during tough times. I like to encourage the idea of a handmade movement, where culture is changing in such a way as to appreciate the handmade quality after the glitz of the industrial and technological revolutions have sizzled down. Encouraging people to be part of the handmade movement offers a sense of empowerment to make change through choices. Makes us real Do-it-Yourselfers.

    1. Layne, I agree that there are some major social/societal changes that are shifting towards a ‘back to the earth’ mentality. clearly the handmade movement is part of that coupled with the local food movement.

  13. Was actually thinking about this the other day and incorporating it into the buy local movement also. “creating locally, buying locally” or create locally, buy locally” or something like that……..

    1. Jan, I love that: creating locally. that is a great line. what about ‘created locally by hand.’ that’s perfect to include with anything you sell in your surrounding area.

  14. Hey Nick –
    I’m using this along with the I Made It! Market communications.

    Support Local, Celebrate Handmade and Meet the Makers on April 10.

    I can change the date based on events and I’m going to be working harder to communicate the impact shoppers can have by really connecting directly with makers.

    So many really meaningful connections can be made when makers are able to have a conversation with customers directly.

    I know I have had my holiday lists thought out ahead of time based on what custom orders I know specific friends/family members would want based on makers’ ability to work with my needs.

    This type of gift is always appreciated and so easy to accomplish after a relationship has been established.

    I think a very unique aspect of this movement is the ability to connect with a maker and that should be a part of branding!

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