3 Myths You Have Been Told About Branding As An Artist

by guest blogger Bonnie Glendinning

Why branding can be confusing, and what artists need to know.

 

3 Myths About Branding. Read about it at www.ArtsyShark.com

 

Branding is often misunderstood and completely overlooked by artists. This is heartbreaking because it is critical to your art business success.

Typically, artists will dive right into marketing without understanding what your art means to the customer, and worse, not knowing who your best customer is. You will usually end up with random, hit or miss results, a lot of frustration, and feeling discouraged because you proceeded without vital details on your side.

The 3 myths you are told about branding are:

Myth #1: Your art will sell itself

Truth: You aren’t really selling art. Rather, you are selling an emotion and experience to your customers. Your brand will encompass this and help mitigate the relationship gap from stranger to customer.

Myth #2: All you need is a logo and a website

Truth: Sometimes you don’t need either one! A logo and website are only expressions of your brand. Developing your brand is a process of discovery to understand the nuances and depths of what your brand is for your audience.

Myth #3: Marketing IS branding

Truth: Branding is more important as it comes before marketing. A brand is the foundation of any business (and, yes, professional artists are a business) to be relatable to their customers. If you are not relatable, then you will not have customers to market to.

Why brand as an artist?

Simply put, to stand out and connect.

I know this will be hard to believe as an artist — but, art is not essential to our physical survival. Art is a luxury because it’s “a want” versus “a need”. You must integrate this truth within your business and brand.

There is more noise than ever to compete with. You brand to ensure you are the signal and not part of the noise. We as consumers select brands we know and trust because it is a shortcut through the abundance of choices.

You are doing a disservice to your customer (and yourself) by not standing out to meet their specific needs, wants, and desires.

Additionally, a strong brand will be the foundation to gain your customers’ loyalty and allow you to command a premium price for your art, products, and services.

What is a brand for an artist?

A brand is not your logo, fonts, icons, social media, website, colors, images. These are just expressions of your brand used in your marketing.

It is for any business including your art business. It is not just for large corporations or celebrities.

Branding is your relatable essence and experience to connect with your customers. It allows you to show up in a true-to-you way, expresses meaning and a sense of purpose, and forms a vital pact with your audience.

How does branding fit in overall?

Branding sets the stage for humanizing your business, enables an ongoing conversation, and leads to a trusted relationship.

My simple 3-step formula for you is: 1 + 2 = 3

  1. Branding (Meaning/Feeling)
    Your relatable essence to connect with your customers.
  2. Marketing (Community)
    Create experiences through shared aspirations, ideals, beliefs.
  3. Sales (Trust)
    Transactions occur after the relationship is established.

Where do you start?

Your customers are seeking the unique combination of you and your art.

I suggest you start by answering these 3 questions about you, your art, and how these integrate into your business.

  1. Who are you? (What are you about? What do you stand for?)
  2. What do you do? (What is your expertise?)
  3. Why does it matter? (What reason will incite them to connect/buy?)

Pro Tip: It can be easier to identify what you don’t want. So, if you are feeling stuck, focus on who you are not and what you do not do, to spark some ideas.

Your answers will begin your process of understanding who your customers will be and creating a relatable brand experience to connect with them.

In summary, your brand is the key to:

  • Be confidently “you” to rise above the crowd
  • Connect with your best customers
  • Inspire customer loyalty
  • Command a premium price

Trust me, it is well worth your effort to take this essential discovery step to grow your career and business through your art brand.

Cheers to your branding success!

© Artmuse LLC

 

Bonnie Glendinning writes about branding for artists at www.ArtsyShark.comBonnie Glendinning, founder of The Artists’ Mentor, The Thriving Artist and Artmuse®, provides education, programs and brand mentorship for professional artists. As an artist, designer and entrepreneur herself, her mission is to empower artists to create their artistic legacy.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this crystalline post on branding! Bonnie Glendinning has nailed it! Thank you Bonnie for such clarity and simplicity to help artists understand what branding is in relationship to their work as an artist and to their career as a business-person. Fabulous!

  2. Great tips! I would just add one thing… I work with artists and I do think the brand boils down to the name as a starting point. That is what potential customers will learn to recognize and search for. I see artist use a pile of different names, starting with their website and often a different name on each social media site. It’s very confusing to customers to recognize that this is the same person, even if the work is clearly similar. I urge people to settle on one name and make everything the same on all channels.

    Part of this happens as a natural progression when an artist starts getting recognition. Many start out with a catchy business name but as they become better known in their circles, their personal name starts getting used more often as an identifier. Some people want to keep business completely separate from personal and may even operate more than one business with a different focus. They might have separate websites and social media sites for them. Others allow their personal name to float to the top and start using it while still having sites with their outdated names.

    I think it’s very important to study what goals we each have and then design what we want to project consistently, including creating a logo or icon that is used everywhere.

    Finally, the website should be the mother ship and everything else should support what is going on there. I see many people with outdated sites, show dates that are over three years old, no new work, etc. because they post on social media and let their sites slide. It’s extremely difficult to keep up with everything, but time invested in a website has a much longer life than what is posted on social media. I encourage people to use no more than three social media sites to promote their websites and to try to schedule maintenance for the site as part of the “job”, something I need to push myself to do as well.

    • I agree with you Rachel to be consistent with your name, design, look/feel across all channels including website, social media, etc. I tend to recommend using a personal vs. a specialty name as your brand for artists, but it can depends on your overall vision. All of these are brand expressions and will provide confidence and assurance for your customers that it is really you.

      I also agree that your website is the headquarters of your online business (and yes please keep it updated) with social media being sales agents out in the field driving business back to HQ. I recommend choosing 1 social media platform at a time to master and then add in the next one.

      Three questions to answer before choosing a social platform (especially if you are a solo studio and time is precious): 1) Are your customers even on the platform?, 2) Do you have the interest or time to master it?, and 3) Does it help you reach your goals? Even if you don’t choose a social platform definitely claim your studio/business name just in case you want to use it later.

      Another point on your website is to understand what you want to achieve with this site (sales, calls, appointments, commissions, etc.). Your site is about you but for your customer. Design and develop your site for your customer to have a frictionless and frustration-free experience. Specifically, be a curator and docent of your online gallery. Showcase only the art that represents your best work and guide your customer by organizing in categories or collections to make it easy for them to find what they want.

      Think of it like a brick and mortar store: Customers don’t enter from the back alley, go through the storage and inventory and then enter the store. Customers enter from the front door and have a specific experience set up for them when they arrive. You want to have the same thinking for your site. After all it represents you, your art, and your brand on the Internet. Purposely make it a wonderful experience.

  3. As an artist my style and interests develop and change over time. So I may end up somewhere that I didn’t expect and the emotion I’m selling may change totally (e.g. from wanting to make the world a little bit more beautiful to darker meanings/paintings). How do you take this into account when you start with your branding? Or do you have to start anew when your focus changes?

    • Great question Marjanne! The nature of being an artist is that your art will evolve and move in new directions. This could show up as your style, technique, method, medium, topics, etc. Yet, likely there will be an identifiable thread of ”you” or even ”purpose” in all expressions of your art.

      I recommend honing in what that “you” or ”purpose“ is and branding from that place because it will have longevity and allow your creativity to thrive. Additionally, focusing your marketing on your brand over only products/services (including varying themes, topics, styles) will provide the latitude to go in directions you crave as an artist.

      Essentially I am encouraging you to create a brand that has a way of thinking or way of living (a lifestyle) associated with it. This creates broader opportunities for engagement and inclusion for your audience. Examples of a lifestyle artist brands are: 1) Kelly Rae Roberts — inspired by love and possibilities; 2) Ashley Longshore — inspired by pop culture.

      Both of these artists stay true to their overarching inspiration and build a lifestyle business around it offering originals, prints, courses, products, etc. You don’t have to branch out as much as they do, but having that option will help leverage your time and resources and support you doing the art you love.

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