Ah yes, the elusive brand – it’s the cat’s pajamas. But it can be a bit tricky to build or even isolate. Yet, it’s an incredibly fun process and something that will be one of your most valuable, rewarding and unique assets. So welcome to your complete guide on personal branding for artists.
I’ve done a lot of research for this (and have made a lot of mistakes in the past). Actually, I recently rebranded this whole website.
…such a headache…but totally worth it!
I’m also actively using these strategies for my other personal music, travel film and art brand.
So I’ve picked up a few things along the journey. And I’m here to share them with you.
Now enough small talk – let’s dive in!
Part One: Defining Brand
This first section will provide a good understanding for brand, what it is and why we should care.
More importantly, this introduction will provide some inspiration – it’s the perfect starting point.
What Is Personal Branding?
Brand can be a bit intangible. It encompasses everything from your profile color choices and “self image” to the intentions behind your artwork.
So let’s get a working definition.
“A brand is a name, design, symbol, personality or other feature that identifies someone as distinct from others”
Brand has a lot of moving parts. But luckily, we can take serious advantage of online tools and resources to build it.
And I cover all of that in this post, step by step. But the process of building brand isn’t an overnight things and it’s never really “finished” either.
Still, at the end of the day, just remember to enjoy the process and be excited, because you’re creating something indestructible here.
5 Benefits of Personal Branding for Artists
Before we dive into everything, let’s chat a bit about why we should even care about brand in the first place.
Here are six benefits for building personal brand as an artist.
Brand fosters reputation and recognition.
And there’s an established correlation between brand awareness and purchase intention.
Consider a branded pair of Nike shoes versus a new, unrecognized brand.
Even though the shoes may have similar quality, Nike is more recognized and trusted – and more likely to be purchased.
At some point or another, your art needs marketing.
Brand fosters free, word-of-mouth marketing – one of the oldest tricks in the books, but still powerful.
According to research from Semrush, 90% of people prefer a brand more when it’s recommended – even from a stranger!
Trust + Credibility
According to Oberlo, 81% of consumers stated they need to trust a brand before making purchase.
As artists, we should stay methodical and run our brand like a business.
People tend to buy products subconsciously and on emotion. So it’s easy to imagine how emotion and trust can really come into play when purchasing art.
A strong brand opens up networking opportunities, which allow you to tap into new audiences.
Companies, businesses and other artists want to associate with well-recognized brands. So this can be a great way to expand your network.
Conversely, reaching out for collaborations and partnerships can actually build and make your brand stronger.
More Demand (more price control)
Back to the Nike example. Why are the branded pair of feet whips so much more expensive?
Of course, there could be many things at play here. But one part for sure is a strong brand identity.
If we can establish a strong brand, we have higher appeal, and higher demand – and subsequently, can charge a higher price.
Part Two: Creating Brand In 7 Steps
The steps below outline my exact process for identifying and creating a strong brand.
If you want to do a further deep dive into this process, then definitely check out my full guide and kit on branding for creatives (linked right below here).
Otherwise, let’s jump in!
Recommended Read: Branding for Creatives + Solopreneurs | The Essential Guide
Your Identity. Your Purpose.
Before we can establish a clear brand image, we need to look inward a bit. We need to define our motivations and inspiration.
We need to clearly identify who we are and what it is we do – you know, our purpose. We need some self-reflection.
For me, I was surprised to find that translating the mental image I had for my brand into actual words was, well, difficult.
Maybe you’re ahead of me in this regard…but either way, let’s be sure we have our image clearly defined (beyond our mind).
A quick trick to do this is using the golden circle.
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why do you do it?
OK next up – now that we understand ourselves – we need to understand our audience.
Audience research is a cornerstone to nearly every aspect of a successful business. And your art brand is your creative business.
If we have a clear understanding of who our ideal fan is, we can know how our brand will resonate with them or reflect their value system.
We can do simple audience research by creating a fan – or buyer – persona.
To do this, simply answer these questions to get a better understanding of who your audience is exactly:
- What are your audience’s interests?
- What are your audience’s pain points, or fears?
- Where does your audience spend the most time?
- What are you audience’s values?
- Who does your audience follow and look up to?
- What are your audience demographics?
Now let’s take our research one step further. Let’s explore our market.
This will help us better understand our industry, its main players (or your “competitors”) and what’s working or trending.
Here’s a quick 3-step method to research your market: observe, ask and interpret.
This is the exploratory phase. You may use Google, existing knowledge or your audience research.
Try to identify and understand your niche, its main players, the main audiences and how they participate with brands.
Observing is super insightful – but it’s pretty passive. So let’s make things more strategic and active.
Some great ways to ask are through surveys, interviews and simply getting involved in community discussion boards, social media comments and online marketplaces.
Once you’ve gathered your data, you need to interpret it and extrapolate meaning from it.
How does your research tie back to your brand’s purpose, image and objectives?
Does your brand “fit” into the existing market? How is it different?
And most importantly, are there any opportunities for your brand to differentiate itself from others?
We can’t copy a brand very easily. After all, it’s our unique personality. And try as we might, being someone else rarely works.
But this is our greatest asset. It’s differentiation.
During your market research, did you notice how your particular qualities, artistic styles or overall image are different?
If so, how can you translate that uniqueness into specific benefits for your audience.
If you’re still stuck here, no worries – this is something that will come with time.
I’m a firm believer that we inherently differentiate ourselves, the more we embrace our own stye or methods.
A differentiating brand is simply the unavoidable result of being your truest self.
Yet, I definitely still struggle with this “who am I?” quandary…
– Derek Zoolander, 2001 –
Your Brand Design
OK on to the fun, visual stuff: your brand’s aesthetic.
Dialing in on your brand design is a key part of creating your brand image. It’s a visual marker and something that people will easily recognize about your brand.
So when I say brand design, I really mean things like:
- Your brand colors
- Your brand creatives
- Your brand style
- Your brand font
- Your brand voice
- Your brand messaging
Your website, social media profiles and content online should all follow the same brand design.
So think about what visual image and colors you want for your brand.
You’ll notice for this website, I lean heavily on a conversational tone, visual animations, rounded soft edges, lighter colors and hues of blue.
It’s all intentional and part of my brand design.
Your Brand Assets
Your brand assets are your tools, platforms and symbols. These are your trademarks and your distribution channels.
Here are some common brand assets:
- Your logo
- Your mission statement
- Your social media profiles
- Your website or portfolio
- Your email and email list
- Other social media, websites or communication channels
Everyone should have a logo, a mission statement, a website and at least one social media channel.
Other assets can come with time or depend on your audience, goals and personal preferences.
For example, not everyone wants to sell on Etsy. Maybe is “off brand” or doesn’t let you “own” your audience as effectively.
Either way, as an artist looking to build your brand online, you’ll need to have a collection of tools that support this goal.
It’s your brand kit.
Bringing Your Brand to Life
Finally, here we are – bringing it all together.
Once we’ve established our audience, brand assets and differentiation, we can start the actual brand-building process.
Again, this isn’t an overnight thing – but it’s an awesome, never-ending adventure.
Here are four pillars to bring your brand to life:
- A content strategy
Telling your story is key to your whole image and brand. It’s what sets you apart – because no one does you better than you.
There are various ways to have a content strategy. This can be social media content, YouTube videos, a podcast or maybe even a blog. Just be sure you have content.
When the time is right, marketing is another way to sell and build brand. If you’re using paid marketing strategies, be sure to focus on adding value and implement retargeting.
Finally, we need to be consistent. Consistency pays off and rushing rarely works. Just continue to add value through content and your artwork and trust the process.
This post has provided a full 7-step guide on personal branding for artists.
It can be overwhelming to know where (or how) to start, but I hope this guide has provided some clarity.
So if you’re ready, what’s your brand’s mission? How would you describe your brand in one or two sentences to someone who has never heard of you?
Thanks for reading today, your support is very much appreciated.
Let me know in the comments – who are you and what’s your brand?