One of the ways you can make your shop stand out among (hundreds of) thousands of others on Etsy is by having a good banner. To me a shop banner is part of your product branding. Now first of all, don’t you worry: even as a designer myself I have never fled from a shop because of an ugly banner design. And trust me, I’ve seen some really terrible ones. However, I have stayed longer and have been tempted to explore a shop beyond the first page. By picking a banner that fits your shop and products there is no way to go but up!
In this post I want to explain what kind of banner designs I like and why. Now before you go on reading there is one thing I cannot emphasize enough: Be inspired, but never ever steal a design! Stealing a design will not benifit you in any way and will not make you stand out. If you see something you like try to make a list of the individual components of the design that you like. Then if you look at that list you can brainstorm on how these features can translate to your own products and style and make something that fits you and your brand.
The past few days I’ve been browsing through hundreds of shops to pick the designs I like for this post. Mind you, even this list is just a fraction of the beautiful banners I have seen. However, I’ve narrowed it down to designs that can be a great inspiration for people who aren’t so photoshop-savvy. You’ll probably notice that a lot of these banners look pretty simple. But, they work! Also don’t forget to visit the shops; they are truly wonderful.
Style 1 : The complete minimalist
I am going to make a distinction between handwritten text and ornamental text. What I’ve seen a lot is a “pretty” font used, but unfortunately it hardly ever works out. Text design is incredibly hard! I still struggle with choosing a fitting typeface or font even after seven years of design experience.So please keep it as simple and clean as possible. Usually plain sans serif fonts go with almost anything. Play a little to find out if thick or thin letters will go better with your shop style and that’s it. Madison Street Beauty even has used a cute reference to their product by turning the “o” into a jar with make-up.
Handwritten text on the other hand is completely awesome in my book! It adds such a great touch of personality to your design. The ulalá design is a great example how something simple can still have so much personality. It could also work great as a logo design.
Style 2 : The display of products
Another great way to avoid having to use overcomplicated photoshop skills is by simply using your products as decoration. A common mistake a lot of people make when trying to photoshop their designs into a banner is that the products either seem to awkwardly float in space or they have difficulty making good transitions into where the text should go. The result is usually clumsy and the process is unnecessarily time-consuming. Handymaiden uses the most simple and also the best way to make a good looking banner: A good composition of the products is used as a base and then the text is placed over the picture.
Using product photography for a banner lets you get away with things you usually avoid for the product listing. It can look a bit cluttered, the product doesn’t need to be displayed clearly and you can have a lot more fun with it. You can barely make out that the background of Still With You’s banner is a crystal, but it looks very stylish and colourful designed this way. Just make sure that when you put the name of your shop over a picture that the text still stands out. In this banner I’m guessing this is achieved by increacing the brightness and decreasing the contrast of the background picture.
Style 3 : The illustration
Obviously this style is very specific and will not work with every kind of product. What I think the biggest difficulty is when illustrating your banner is making sure it doesn’t become too cluttered. It also usually works best if the illustration is made specifically for a banner format since then you’ll be able to make a more balanced composition. I’ve seen sellers trying to put too many of their drawings of prints in the banner and it looks messy. Le petit elefant has a sweet and cute design without trying to put too much stuff in.
I notice the same problem with painters and photographers. They simply try to show too much of their work in their banner even though your product listings should do that work. It’s best to pick a section of one work that highlights your skills and / or style. Groundworks makes beautiful nature paintings and only has to show a small detail of trees to emphasize that.
Style 4 : The self-reference
Like I said before, a banner lets you get away with things you are not always able to do in product photography. You don’t necessarily need to use your own product in the banner. It can be a way to set the tone and the theme of what is yet to come. Urban plus Forest presents a picture of branches that is not sold as it is shown in the banner.
You could also display a tool you use to make your products as a symbol for your store. Putting an emphasis on a small detail of your work can put a bigger spotlight on the product than something that is too literal. The Knit Kid shows a very small part of their knitted products; it could be absolutely anything from the store, but also everything.
Style 5 : The organized mess
It’s probably pretty clear by now that I prefer simple and clean banners over cluttered ones. The reason for that is that it’s really hard to make a busy design balanced. A good rule of thumb is that it is okay to make super detailed banner if your product pictures are pretty clean. Otherwise, if there’s too much going on at the same time, the eye will wander not knowing where to focus. Boo and Boo Factory uses very clean white backgrounds for their incredibly colourful products. The end result is a vibrant, but well-balanced, shop.
The same goes for PPCK. If the shop wasn’t so very clean the cluttered banner would not have worked so well. It also offers a somewhat unique behind-the-curtains peek at what the shop is selling. With its “mess” it manages to approach the visitor in a very personal manner. You can almost imagine going through all those prints browsing for the perfect artwork to hang on your wall.
Unfortunately I couldn’t put every beautiful banner I found in this post. I would still really like to show three more that I couldn’t really fit in anywhere but are still very memorable.
Fabitoria has such a unique style! Not only in their product but the way they display their products really stands out to me. Their banner completely fits into their odd and quirky personality.
Three trees bindery has such a strong banner. In fact, I like this one the most of all the banners I’ve come by. I actually can’t really explain why, but it’s so very calm but has loads of personality nevertheless.
The raccoon mascot of hisss illustration is just incredibly cute! It simply makes me smile 🙂
So what now?
You have seen all my examples. Hopefully you have also read why I particularly like them. Now you need to figure out what kind of atmosphere you want your store to have. You can choose more than one theme, but make sure that you are able to combine them. If you are unsure how to best put your vision into an image, it’s best to keep it simple rather than complicated. And you can also come back tomorrow for my simple photoshop tutorial on how to make your own banner. So keep an eye out for my next post!