How to Start a Stationery Brand
We’re living in the golden age of stationery!
We see small companies growing into giants everyday, like Rifle Paper Co. and Sugar Paper. It’s all thanks to smart business planning and promoting. Here are our favorite tips to grow your stationery brand into a household name:
1. Start your company
If you’re operating a business without registering as an LLC or Corporation, you’re taking a big risk. Your personal assets can be taken to pay your business debts. That means you can lose your car, house, and bank account on a product injury, a bad business deal, or a freak accident. Is it likely? Probably not. Is it worth all that risk to save a few hundred bucks on registering? Definitely not. Register your company with the state and follow certain formalities, so only your company assets are at risk.
Youʼll start by completing the state paperwork to register your entity. First, you'll need to decide what kind of entity is the best fit for you. If you haven't decided yet, check out our guides to Sole Proprietorship, Partnerships, LLCs, C Corporations, and S Corporations.
Now you're ready to register. If you are registering an LLC, the form is usually called Articles of Organization. If youʼre forming a Corporation, the form is called Articles of Incorporation. You can find these on your stateʼs corporation agency website. Youʼll also need to choose a registered agent, principal place of business, and business purpose. Keep in mind that all of this information, including your address, will be public.
Tip: Call in your business attorney if you’re not sure which entity is the right fit for your company.
2. Lock down your brand
A trademark allows you to own your brand. It means you're the only company who can use your company name, logo, slogan, domain name, personal name, product name, or hashtags. Here's why it's key: without it, you can be sued, forced to rebrand, or have your customers stolen by copycats.
Trademarks operate on a first to file system. That means the first person to file the trademark gets the exclusive rights to use the name. So if someone else files first, they’ll own the rights to your name and you won't be allowed to use your brand anymore and you can be sued for using it.
Think about how many brand pieces feature your company name: your website, social media, business cards, products, marketing materials, press links, inventory, etc. You'll need to change all of that, pull back all inventory with the brand on it, and possibly pay monetary damages. You'll lose customers, money, and valuable momentum.
Bottom line: if you’re building a brand, you need to own your trademark.
3. Create your stationary
If you’ve read our popular blog post, How to Start a Business, you have a plan for what you’ll sell. Let’s take it a step further. Ask yourself:
What designs will you use?
Will you create the designs or hire an artist?
Will you make these products?
What supplies or ingredients do you need?
How much does it cost to make the products?
Where will you buy the products?
At what price will you buy the products?
At what price will you sell the products?
If you’re working with an artist to create your designs, lock down your agreement with a contract. Legally, the artist who created your designs is still the owner of the work, unless you have a contract that says otherwise. That means you can be sued for using their intellectual property or they can prevent you from using it in the future.
If you’re creating the designs, think about getting a registered copyright on the designs to prevent other companies from stealing it. A registered copyright allows you to be the sole owner of your design and you can stop anyone else who uses it commercially.
4. Promote your brand
There are so many ways you can market your brand. You can use instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, email newsletters, and influencers to promote your brand online. Find out where your customers are online and join them!
You can also check out tradeshows and trade organizations for stationery like National Stationery Show.