June 13, 2020
Think like a designer to create effective banners for your Etsy page
Many new sellers are at a loss for how to brand and design their shop banners. Etsy shop banners can be an effective component of the branding and feel of your shop. This helps with conversions (sales) and building your audience of potential repeat buyers. That is why you may want to put some thought into designing your banner, and that is why I spent quite a while on this post.
While researching the top sellers of Etsy and big brands, I realized there were repeating patterns. I was able to categorize and understand the strategy behind them. Not all categories will work for every shop, and I don’t claim this is every possible type of Etsy banner. These are simply the ones I found.
As a unicorn developer with some design skills, and who has worked with many amazing designers in the advertising industry, I think my perspective in analyzing these designs can help handmade sellers in creating more effective banners.
Want a PDF copy of this blog post to read later?
Join my email list and have the PDF of this blog post sent to you in minutes!
Why Bother With An Etsy Shop Cover Banner?
You can certainly be successful on Etsy without having a cover banner. Many successful shops- even a few of the top 1% sellers- do without. So don’t feel like you absolutely have to have a banner to be successful. I do think supplies sellers, in particular, will have less need for one than sellers trying to build a brand.
Understand that most people do not really read or look at Etsy shop banners. They are like logos- much less important than people think they are. But they are very helpful in creating a complete brand. They help create a feeling, aesthetic, and experience. They are a component and can’t accomplish this alone. A banner is only a piece of what your branding strategy is.
Why Look at What Others are Doing? I Want to be Authentic!
Designers study each other- not to copy- but to learn. Observing people better than you is key to improving your own skills. There’s actually an entire book about this by Austin Kleon called Steal Like an Artist. Check it out- it is a quick but inspiring read.
Seeing what others are doing to apply it to your own work is not inauthentic. It’s simply letting your brand use a different strategy. Writers encourage other writers to create stories they fear have been done too many times before by saying, “it hasn’t been done by you yet.” I extend this same advice to you and your shop. Another shop may be doing a great job utilizing a certain strategy, but it hasn’t been done by your shop yet. Your own brand, feeling, and perspective haven’t been seen yet. There’s nothing inauthentic about that!
The 6 Ways to Design Your Etsy Shop Banner like a Pro
During my research, I started noticing patterns and similarities between the different storefront heroes. Remember, heroes, are the first section people see when webpage loads that have a specific purpose of introducing a concept, product, or brand. Usually, they are on a landing page- an intended first or standalone page for a website.
This is arguably the hardest to accomplish on Etsy and the least common strategy. This is very often utilized by designer brands that release products in collections. In a collection, there’s a continual story revolving around a theme or the product line. You have probably seen those perfume commercials that have nothing to do with perfume. They are creating a story and emotion to entice you. Designer brands are selling quality and a certain lifestyle. The collection’s story can be the focus rather than the product itself, but this isn’t exclusive to big brands.
This style delivers a high-end feel when done right. If you want to create a banner like this, think about “white space”. This is a graphic design term for unoccupied negative space in an image. You’ll probably hit the mark aiming for minimalist style. You want to show, not tell, in this style.
Gucci currently has a video as their hero section. The video features models playing with hula hoops and cute deer. What do deer and hula hoops have to do with anything? Not much. But this is all in a collection marketing strategy.
Prada has a theme but, any story they have is missing on this page where they feature the product collection and theme. I wanted to point out this example because of its lack of apparent story since that may be an easier way to have a collection-based Etsy banner. There’s an illustrative banner with little text other than the text “Hyper Leaves”.
Magpie Mischief does a nice job featuring her latest collections. This image here serves to create the setting for this home garden. It evokes feelings with its fainted colors and green leaves. It’s not as abstract and epic as the big brand but she accomplishes a story around her collection (remember, this banner is only a piece of her story).
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Magpiemischief
Quick note, I’ve shopped with Magpie twice now. Her work is beautiful!
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AndreyaMx
So when creating your image, remember less is more and think about what you’re communicating with what you’re showing. I remember an advertising campaign we had at my job where we needed to convey a premium experience at an accessible price. I remember my creative director’s words to the art director: “We need to say ‘affordable’ without saying the word ‘affordable’.”
I see this much more often on Etsy but mainly for a specific type of shop. Recall the days where you’d get the latest Old Navy catalog in the mail. Frontpage, you’d probably see 5 different product types featured. This is deliberate. Old Navy, without necessarily writing it on the page, is communicating that they can be your one-stop-shop for your entire family. “Let us take care of all the spring clothes shopping you’re going to have to do for your growing kids. While you’re here, you can get your spouse some much-needed new underwear and yourself a new pair of shoes to replace your old ones.”
Here’s an example of Walmart’s front page.
They’re using the dreaded slider so I’d wonder what their analytical data would say to that but I digress… Here you see them use a catalog style to capitalize on the summer. In an example below, I’ll be going over the seasonal / sales message-driven banners. This is different from that for 2 reasons.
- The section doesn’t particularly push any sales. There’s a mention in the top left corner about price but it’s not the focus here.
- The focus is on the variety of products to fulfill their target customers’ dream of having an awesome barbeque party.
And therein lies the purpose of a catalog style banner. It’s all about displaying a variety of products to show that they have all of the things someone might need for their party, spring cleaning, tea ceremony, etc. This strategy is all about making dreams come true!
I see this so well done on Etsy. Here are a few that stick out:
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/modparty
In this first example, the shop is obviously targeting engaged women. In the banner, the seller wisely features all sorts of commonly-wanted items needed for a bridal shower. ModParty is literally offering visitors everything they could need for their parties. Trust ModParty because they have you covered. And even better than showing the products, she shows the benefit rather than telling. Instead of text saying “your bridal shower will be amazing!”, she uses an image of a bridal shower. They are having a blast using these products. Any bride-to-be is going to want that same joy for her parties too.
So now ModParty not only sells bridesmaid jackets but the dream of an amazing bridal shower and wedding reception. Here’s another:
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/zoeysattic
ZoeysAttic is using a similar approach. She shows a variety of her products- not to sell a dream or experience people want- but to show her versatility in her personalizations. Not only can she do shirts but beer can coolies and picture frames too. This is one fun shop to find a friend the perfect gift.
ZoeysAttic may not sell a dream of a perfect party, but looking at the photos, you do see that she sells something extra too. Memories! People keep things like these as keepsakes. You’re creating memories with a personalized gift. Just think about how personalizing a picture frame is about keeping a single memory alive.
See how deep this can get? Okay, one more example that’s a little different.
This is less about creating an event, but its a clean, simpler catalog-style I have to share. This banner does what the others do: shows the variety of their product offerings. You see this and have a good idea of what to expect from this shop.
Plus, that is a cute dog.
There are 4 key message-driven types I found: the discount opportunities, the social proof, the “Who I Am”, and the “benefits message”.
• Discount Opportunities
These are everywhere! These are different from the Sales/Seasonal which has its own strategy below. Discount opportunities are just that. It’s usually plainly written on the banner about how to earn a discount code or free shipping. Quick example below.
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaperboyParty
Both examples above feature a way to get free shipping. The copy could have easily instructed them to join an email list for a coupon code too.
• Social Proof
This is a good tactic when you’re trying to build your brand up and need to establish and build trust. This means in your banner you highlight anything that you have that gives you social proof. This includes but not limited to: “As seen on….,”, showing high ratings, and showing positive reviews. This is about trust-building and adding a dash of FOMO (fear of missing out). This method is usually used with another strategy. The Collection Style example from earlier would make a great combination.
In this example, Petalworks Dayton touts their “As seen on” bling. This is a great thing to do if you’ve gotten any press or shoutouts online. It builds trust and gives you more legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
• Who I Am
The “Who I Am” banner can be done in two different ways or in combination.
- Saying who you are, what you sell, and for who
- Or listing what the customer can expect and/or ways to customize their experience.
Both the above examples are not about products. It is about what the shop can do for the customers.
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/theideaboxkids
This is an excellent example of saying who you are (logo and shop name), what you sell (“simple activity ideas”), and for whom (kids). This is so simple and clear. I love it, and I imagine this took thought. This is not something slapped together. I have to believe it is serving them well in nudging customers along with their purchases.
The following seller falls under this category as well (though in combination with the above catalog-style). The center of the banner says what they do so the customer automatically knows what to expect, what this shop is all about, and how to view the shop. Just the line “put your photo on mugs, pillowcases, tote bags…” is so effective. I wish it was in a more legible font, but it proves my point.
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/stampoutonline
For the next examples, I’ll highlight the similarities between this Etsy shop and a big brand store. They are both communicating to customers the different ways to interact and shop with them as well as what to expect.
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/stampoutonline
Michaels and this Etsy shop MRC are both using the same strategy to lay the expectations customers should have. They both show what they can offer: locations, shipping times, good customer services, free shipping, pick up locations, and ways to contact them directly. They are both offering convenience!
Note MRC also grabs some social proof with the line “over 100,000 Happy Customers”. That is some serious cred!
Here’s one more great example. This one clearly states who they are (queer artist), what they sell and what for (art with a self-love/LGBT-friendly message), and gives you an idea who it’s for (people celebrating pride, LGBTQ people, and allies).
• Announcing Benefits
This one is my personal favorite and I’ll tell you why. I think a lot of Etsy shops could safely use this, at least in their beginnings. I think even if you’re not wanting to make this your official banner you would get a lot out of making one as an exercise. You’ll learn from it.
Why do I feel this way? The best advice I’ve ever seen in business is “features tell, benefits sell.” Or in a nerdy analogy, you aren’t selling Mario the fire flower, you’re selling him the fire superpower and increased health.
I love this example so much because of how simple it is. It shows you a tidy and chic desk that could be your own. It makes the user want that workspace. The copy reads “Keeping your life organized and pretty”. It is all about the benefits- not necessarily the products. She is selling a new version of your work life. This is effective communication.
I do love this strategy. I think anyone making things by hand could effectively try this strategy. Here’s a luxury brand doing it.
Fendi here isn’t only showing this picture. It’s actually a video automatically playing when you visit the page. The video shows the process of hand-crafting their purses. It’s well-shot and focused on the hands and product. It uses a serious tone to create a sense of awe.
Here is how this Etsy Shop emulates Fendi.
Shop Url: https://www.etsy.com/shop/frostbeard
Frostbeard does an amazing job to “show quality” without a video. They show progression in three separate photos. Anyone who sees this can believe that this is a handmade product that isn’t made anywhere else. They can even feel like a part of a handmade movement by making a purchase since they feel more engaged with the process. Everyone wants to be a part of that!
Also note, they were able to show this without any text on the banner.
Seasonal / Sales Driven
There are seasonal or holiday sales. Then there is a product-focused sale. Here are two examples of each.
Both are trying to make a sale with sales. Target is featuring a summer sale while Everlane has a sale of their Cotton Polo shirts.
How do Etsy sellers use this method? Here’s a great example:
This shop is featuring their face masks, a product they probably want to promote the most right now. It’s timely and does a good job listing the features in order to speak to its quality. If you were searching for face masks and found this shop, you’d likely stop and look around.
Can you take a Combined Approach?
Absolutely! It should be obvious that many of the above examples already combine different strategies in order to make an effective banner. But I want to talk about how to decide whether or not to combine methods and which types to use together.
Don’t use two methods for the sake of it. For many of these strategies, I do believe picking one and doing it very well will create the most effective image. It is not about putting as much as you can into an image. Remember how much I’ve emphasized how keeping it simple works really well!
Having a lot of “stuff” on an image can sabotage your message since it overwhelms the viewer; when people are overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or confused, they check out mentally so that they don’t pay any attention whatsoever. Remember: simplify and edit! The best thing you can do in business is to avoid confusing people. Confusion and discomfort kills sales.
In combinations, do your best for it to make sense in a way that complements or strengthens the overall message.
How To Design Your Etsy Shop Banner
You have three options for your Etsy shop banner. There’s the small banner, cover banner, or no banner at all. Understand that the first option shows very small on mobile.
The small banner dimensions:760px width by 100px height
Cover banner dimensions:1200px width by 300px height
If you’re using Cava, they’ll make it easy for you when you pick an Etsy Shop Banner option.
Remember, mobile first!
More and more shopping is being done over the phone now, so it is very important for online sellers to design with a “mobile-first” mentality. This is how the ad agencies approach it currently. Take care to find legible fonts that stand out from the background. The text, in addition, must be large enough to be legible on smaller, scaled-down screens.
Tools and Apps
I won’t be getting into product photography since it’s beyond the scope of this article, and since, honestly, it’s something I’m learning myself. I will eventually share what I’ve tried, learned, and done in a future post. Until then, you can check out the resources page for various apps and free stock photo websites. These are websites and apps I’ve used professionally or on my own projects.
Try to keep text legible, readable, and minimal. Don’t crowd your banner with so many images that it looks like a mess. You’ll notice that the best examples in this post keep it simple with a lot of white space (negative, unused space) in the image. This draws you toward the focal point and helps slow people’s scroll.
Canva is an excellent place to start if you have no design skills. They have premade templates and font pairings you can use for free. I also have an entire post dedicated to image optimization for SEO and site speed. A lot of it won’t apply to an Etsy banner but there is information that would be useful such as with file types. Check it out if you have any confusion on that.
I hope this guide is helpful for sellers who may need help understand how graphic design applies to something like an Etsy banner. Graphic design is all about visual communication and strategy over making pretty pictures. I think my 6 different types prove this!
I’ll bet that now you’ll begin to notice the different strategies while online shopping. I was able to identify the catalog, collection, seasonal/sales driven, message-driven, showing quality, and benefits messaging types. You may find something new that I didn’t list! Whatever the strategy, they all serve a specific purpose. Picking one, or a combination requires a dose of strategic thinking. Whichever strategy you end up picking, I hope it helps you create a more cohesive brand experience for your potential buyers.