Branding. You may have this term used in the advertising world. You may think you know what it is. That’s Coca Cola, right? That’s the BMW symbol on all their cars. That’s Apple with the bite taken out, right?
Um, sort of.
A visual symbol representing a company is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the concept of branding.
Did you know what you as an artist have a brand? Well, you are. And you need to start thinking of yourself that way.
Learn about what a brand is and how to create one of your own. You will find that every public symbol, action and statement you put out has something to do with the brand you are projecting. Knowing your brand will help you to know how to represent yourself to your fans. Once you have discovered this, it will be easy to decide on whether a photo, color scheme, symbol, written statement or sound byte agrees with that image. Your fans will learn to know what to expect from you. They will follow you because of what you stand for, and you will build trust and loyalty because of it.
What is branding? At its most basic level a personal brand is what makes you you. You are unique. People like you and want to know what you have to say. That’s it. So, in effect, you already have one.
Has anyone ever said “That’s so you!” when presenting you with a card or present, or telling a classic story of your antics? There it is. Your brand. If you wonder how catchy or relevant your passions and particular peculiarities might be, I present exhibit A: Jenna Marbles on YouTube – exotic dancer with a degree (and two little dogs) tells you how it is. Covering everything from drunk make-up tutorials to what your underwear choice says about the day you’re going to have. Every one of her videos has had views in the 7-8 figures. If she had a dollar for every one of her subscribers, she’d have over a million dollars. I’d give her a dollar, why not?
So, who are you? What’s your thing? Are you the naked poet? The tree-swinging banjo player? Are you crazy about flying pigs and vegetarian cooking? Whoever you are, those little idiosyncrasies that drive your wife crazy just might be your ticket to success and lifelong fulfillment.
Now, after turning the spotlight on yourself and seeing the face you show the world, you might want to tweak it a bit or hone in here and there, but don’t for a moment think you should present the face the world “wants” to see. All we’re selling is authenticity. Time is short and there’s a lot of noise out there on the web, the stuff that sticks is authentic. Cream rises to the top. I had a painting teacher say, “I have nothing to teach you, it’s all been done.” And I walked out of that class. Who wants to pay $300 to hear him follow up that sentence? Be the authentic, original, irreplaceable you!
Capitalizing on your youness is the next trick. Personality sells. Take a lesson from the freeway off-ramp businessman. He’s got less time than a Tweet to convince you to throw a wad of cash out your window: It’s who you are, more than what you do, that convinces a total stranger to give you money.
The last generations had TV and radio, the silver screen, magazines and the Times. You’ve got all that and more just utilizing the internet. Plus, there are no editors and censors here to make demands or control what you can and can’t do or say. Transparency is key. Warts and all. Like all the well-educated exotic dancers who’ve gone before, you need to tell it like it is. Trust your tastes. Trust your interests. Hunker down at that monitor in your boxers and nerd glasses and just be yourself.
Having the right tools on hand when you need them will keep you from the constant flurry and confusion of trying to pull things together at the last minute. Much anxiety and missed opportunity can be avoided simply by having your ducks in a row. Create a Branding file and keep all your elements on hand.
Here are a few tools you will need as a foundation for creating your brand:
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