Improving your brand is a lot simpler than it seems. It doesn’t take a Harvard educated physicist or a musterin’ blusterin’ New York ad agency. You wont even need to spend hundreds of hours scouring the interwebs for tips, tricks and pitfalls. Nope, not at all.
All you need is 200 watts and 1200 degrees of flesh searing metal.
That’s what branding is all about.
I have gone back and forth with my brand over the past couple of years. I started with a really crappily built plastic hand stamp that was cut with a laser CNC machine. Unfortunately I had made a poor decision to create my logo inside of a block, basically creating an inverse stamp where the block is depressed into the leather and the logo pops up. In theory this…is a horrible idea, in practice…it is a horrible idea. Hindsight is always 20/20.
I quickly moved on to a higher grade metal stamp with a large and full logo “Mr. Lentz”. This stamp was connected to a 125 watt heated hand branding iron. This method worked fairly well, though holding the branding iron by hand, applying proper and even pressure, and hitting the right placement time after time proved extremely difficult. Beyond those facts – what I didn’t realize at the time is that not everyone will want a huge branded logo on their wallet of my entire name. Some do – but some don’t – and honestly, when I purchase goods from other makers I do like their brand on the item, but I like it small and not overbearing.
So…I then switched to a very small metal hand stamp with a very small “Mr.” only part of the logo. Unfortunately, I ordered a version of the stamp that was meant for use in a press…not for hammering. This of course made it fairly difficult to hit with a hammer without bludgeoning my fingers. I ended up modifying it by screwing in a bolt into the back to give my fingers some breathing room. I have used this version of the stamp for most of the past year, but something about it didn’t quite sit right with me. It’s a bit small and sometimes the leather around it makes it tough to read. I needed something more, a bit bigger and bolder.
Thus the final switch to a much improved branding device. The drill press mounted 200 watt branding iron. Installed easily into any normal drill press, this guy makes life simple. You can minutely adjust the angle of the stamp so that it hits the leather at the same angle every time. Using the drill press method of lowering and raising the iron means that placement is near perfect every time. Don’t worry – I screwed up with this one as well…upon initial adjustment of the leveling mechanism I tightened the bolt right off of the metal plate it was attached to – severing it into two pieces. The world of handmade goods is fraught with mistakes, it’s just part of the fun, and part of mastering a craft.
I now brand all of my leather goods with my logo. It is sharp and definitely just the right touch for high quality leather goods.
A short history of branding: While branding started with the ancient Egyptians, it continues to day as a way of marking ownership of cattle and other livestock. The use of branding has allowed ranches to let their cattle roam in neutral grazing territory with the cattle of other ranches, then during roundup the cattle are separated and brought to market. Rather than build five thousand miles of fencing, branding was the obvious solution to a huge problem.
For those interested, here’s a sneak peek of how I lit the branding shot. Top center against the pegboard I attached my main flash. To the left I used another flash in a soft box to fill in the dark shadows around the branding iron. Front and center, and barely visible is the tripod where my camera was held. I then attached a remote trigger to the camera and ran the line around and up to the drill press lever where I could easily reach it without being in the shot.
Have any questions about your own brand? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer.