#7 - What's in a Name ~ Part 2
"Your brand is your name, basically. A lot of people don't know that they need to build their brand; your brand is what keeps you moving." ~ Meek Mill
Who would have thought that a rapper would understand the importance of branding? That your name is your brand. That you need to build your brand and maintain your brand to move forward. I've seen many designer ask over and over again why they don't have the business they used to have. The answer is simple, though their brand is recognized they have not maintained their brand. They have let their brand stagnate. That is designers have not kept up with the times. They have not grown as designers experimenting, learning new ways to design. So many of those well known designers from pre-mesh are now desperately holding on for dear life as they haven't embraced mesh because they either don't know how to create their own mesh or are unwilling to use pre-made mesh templates.
I look at this dilemma from the point-of-view of a teacher, teaching students to write. You don't expect your students to immediately know how to write 10-page thesis papers without a foundation in the basics. You know that somewhere in your students education another teacher taught your student their A,B,C's. Then another teacher taught them to string those letters together to make words. While another teachers taught the student grammar and the proper why to write a sentence. Then later on students learned how to compose paragraphs till finally they could write a well written thesis paper.
The same is true as a designer in Second Life. As a designer in Second Life branding is extremely important. Your brand, that is your store name, niche, and designs need to be marketed and seen by the people in Second Life. If they are not then you will not survive. When I first opened my store I did not understand this concept. Never having a business in real life it's not surprising that I did not. My first store name was so complicated that I couldn't even remember how to spell it, Annuarisu Fashion Confectionery or AFC. I was so proud to have a unique name for a store and that all my designs would be named after sugary confections. Boy, was I dumb. For those of you that have stuck it out with me since the AFC days, Thank You! I didn't really sell much of anything that I made. I was still learning how to create textures and make clothing. Then I made my first skin thanks to Eloh Elliot, who provided open source skin textures and files to the world. Looking back those first skins had a lot of issues. They lacked detail and definition, they were bland. It was at this time that I had a choice either close up shop or change. If I changed, I knew that was the time to re-brand. Re-branding is dangerous. Many designers re-brand and later pay the consequences. It's not something to take lightly. The reasoning for re-branding need to be well thought out and planned so you don't lose your current customer base while reaching out to new customers.
This was not a task that I took lightly. I worked with another designer who was more talented than I. She'll say otherwise. We both were wanting to learn how to make skins that people would want to buy. We did our own research examining skins from other designers looking at what we liked and didn't like about each of the skins. We both noticed that the skins we liked the best were dynamic, detailed, and alive. We collaborated with each other sharing notes, textures, and files. There was that moment when we both knew we had made our break through. Though we had collaborated together our skins were unique to each of us. If it hadn't been for Candy Enoch I most likely would have closed up shop.
It was time, time to move, time to re-brand. I closed Annuarisu Fashion Confectionery, sold the parcels of Kaizen Shopping Plaza and moved to a new sim. Fresh start, fresh name! Dulce Secrets was born! I still like to think of Dulce Secrets as one of Second Life's best kept secrets. One of those sweet secrets that you stumble upon that you can't believe that nobody knows about but you want to keep to yourself but can't. I've striven to keep up with the times offering mesh appliers, skins that are runway ready, cosmetics and eyes that are unique as well as everyday. I continue to learn and grow as a designer. I will always maintain the philosophy that I don't to have a big recognizable name to be known. I just have to have my customers who know what I offer, who can't keep Dulce Secrets, a secret. I love my customers like a family. I want them to know when they see me in the store or on the sim that I'm not some distant, unapproachable entity that I'm up for a chat. That if they have issues with appliers that I'll help them solve it. It's not customer service that I'm offering, I'm offering my brand. AnneAlyce Maertens = Dulce Secrets, Dulce Secrets = AnneAlyce Maertens.
As I enter a new stage of my Second Life, as a contestant in a well known modeling contest, I'm not only representing, AnneAlyce Maertens, I'm representing Dulce Secrets, my customers, my friends as well as Miss SL. The unknown is scary and exciting. I look forward to this journey and I can't wait to see what happens to Dulce Secrets. I just pray that I can keep up with the schedule as a model and designer. Please join me on this mystical, magical ride over the next couple of months.