Crafting Your Brand

Why a thoughtful brand message can make all the difference when selling your art.


Matt Tommey

Matt Tommey


Craft artist Matt Tommey works full-time as a basketmaker whose work is widely collected. In a former life, Matt worked in the marketing field. He has written a new book “Crafting Your Brand” to share his insights, experience and recipe for success with other artists.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4 on “consistently communicating your brand”.


Good marketers tell a story. ~ Seth Godin


When it comes down to it, people rarely buy what they need. They always buy what they want. Part of our job as creative entrepreneurs is to make sure that what our niche market wants is what we have to offer. The best way to convince them is by telling our story.

Over the years as I’ve been an artist, author and marketer, I have come to believe one thing passionately – people buy the story. I remember working as a marketing consultant for a nonprofit in Atlanta when one day a patron came to me and said, “Wow, you make this organization look so much bigger than it really is.” I replied “Thanks, I’m just telling the story in the best way I know how.”

The same has held true with selling fine craft. I’m a basketmaker and I’ve been doing that for about twenty years now off and on. When I finally got serious about pursuing my craft, I did a little research on the field and began referring to myself as a contemporary basketry artist. I also started to notice that the pieces I had always made – functional Appalachian-style baskets – were no longer selling like my other more sculptural, one-of-a-kind pieces. I could make those sculptural pieces in half the time and make twice the money. And since I enjoyed the process even more, guess what I started making more of? You guessed it, sculptural, non-functional art baskets.

Another thing I noticed very soon in my basketry career was that people absolutely loved for me to tell them about how I go in the woods, harvest all the vines and bark and then bring them back to my studio for preparation and weaving. It was like the more they connected with the story of me in the woods, the more they were willing to pay for my work. So I came up with a tagline: “Every Basket Begins with a Walk in the Woods.” I still get comments on that all the time from customers who just love the imagery and emotion that evokes.

So what does all this have to do with consistent branding? Everything. Branding is simply telling your story in a consistent manner. The better and more often you tell your story, the more recognizable your brand will be. That builds comfort and loyalty among your customers and potential clients, yielding a higher propensity for sales. Bottom line, if customers like you, can relate to you and believe that what you have is something they want, then it’s a done deal. Our job? Don’t screw it up.

Although brand consistency sounds kind of technical, it is really pretty simple if you keep it simple. (I’m sounding like Yogi Berra, but hang with me.) From your business cards, brochures, postcards, signs and posters to your booth display, website and Facebook page, everything – yes, everything needs to tell the same story – the story of you.

Crafting Your Brand


Matt Tommey’s “Crafting Your Brand” is available for purchase on



  1. I read some excerpts on Amazon — sounds like a great book!! I added it to my list of what to order next! 🙂 I’m in the middle of rebranding and starting a new direction for my art business…and this gives some great prompts for how to redefine what you do – from a marketing perspective. Thanks so much!!

  2. I have been through a group branding course and now I am focused. I am looking forward to what information you add to the crucial branding mix! Jean

    • Thanks Jean – glad to hear you’re getting the help you need from a group branding course! Those can be phenomenal just by getting the input of others who are in your same boat! Seeing with different eyes is always helpful! All the best to you!

  3. Terry Two Hearts says

    Wow! I learned a lot in the excerpt alone. I can’t wait to purchase this. So much info yet down to earth. I had an aha moment with just the excerpt here.

  4. your story and tag line are SO good and inspires me to stretch further in thinking about my story. your book is definitely on my Amazon list…really looking forward to reading more!

    • Thanks Kathryn! Regarding the tagline, it’s funny because many of my students tell me that the tagline sounds alot more romantic than the actual process of tromping through the woods to harvest materials!

Speak Your Mind