As an independent artist, you are the face of your business. Building your art brand is essential for attracting the right people to your work.
That being said, building up an epic art brand, especially as a small business, is the the best way to set up a solid foundation for your success.
Branding your art is not telling people what you sell, it’s making your buyer clearly understand why you are the one for them.
See the impact of branding?
So, today, I’ll show you exactly what you need to do in order to get them to say, “Yep. They’re the one for me.”
But first, I’d like us to be on the same page. It’s important to understand the biggest force on branding to date…. technology.
Life is different than it was yesterday, right? We can all agree the biggest change is technology and running a business, even a tiny one, has mega-changed because of it.
As I go through the 7 steps, I’d like you to keep the idea of technology in the back of your mind and think of how it plays a roll in every part of your business.
There’s no way around it any more.
Let’s look at it head-on style for a sec.
First, we’re clearly the new science fiction humans of yesterday. The upside is, we’re more productive, empowered, entertained and connected than any other humans in history who ever ran a business.
We easily accomplish tasks that used to be labored over manually. With the push of a button or spoken word, we can do those tasks remotely. We can run our lives and our businesses from our watches, phones and cars.
In fact, our super tech-savviness is growing so quickly that we often have to skip some of it just to catch up to what’s current (Atari-playing, 8-track-listening folks are getting harder and harder to find).
But… that means your brand competes daily with an amount of content that’s hard to fathom. Loads of content is grabbing the attention of your fans and customers at lightning-speed.
Here are two crazy stats to give you perspective on what you’re up against (but don’t worry, I’ve got the solution).
“…five exabytes of content were created between the birth of the world and 2003. In 2013, 5 exabytes of content were created each day.” — Susan Gunelius, ACI
Now compare that stat to this one:
By 2025, it’s estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally —Jeff Desjardins, Founder and editor, Visual Capitalist
I’m betting you’re more artsy, less math-sy, so here’s what an exabyte looks like:
image by Visual Capitalist
Did I hear a “HOLY COW” just now?
To be clear, you’re going to drown without an epic art brand.
If you tweet, email, and post then your brand is up against this every single minute….
- 500 million tweets are sent
- 294 billion emails are sent
- 4 petabytes of data are created on Facebook
- 4 terabytes of data are created from each connected car
- 65 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp
- 5 billion searches are made
So, what can one person do? Well, the answer is simply to have a strong brand and get noticed.
There are 7 ways for you to create an epic art brand. Plus, an added bonus move that will be the tipping point for most people who sit on the fence when it comes to your brand.
Let’s start with the bonus tip. I call it the Ultra Memorable Formula.
And don’t use it sparingly.
Instead, use it wherever you can in any of your marketing strategies.
The Ultra Memorable Formula is: the unexpected + a relatable event + an emotional connection. – Paula Soito, Arts Row
Basically, we remember best when something is unexpected, relatable and emotional.
Here’s how it works with your art brand.
Let’s say you’re a ballet dancer and you’re posting on Instagram.
Instead of posting the usual pic of your gorgeous self on pointe in a typical setting, try posting a pic of you in a lawn chair, feet up on a fence, pointe shoes on, laughing while reading the newspaper comics.
That’s ‘ultra memorable’.
Key Takeaway —
To be more memorable, catch people a little off guard while hooking them with an emotion and a relatable event. If people remember you, they’ll remember to talk about you.
Soooo, what’s this art brand building again?
It’s simply how you bundle up your brand in an attractive package, pretty bow and all, and take it to market.
It’s how you present yourself, your talent.
And with the right effort, you’ll be irresistible.
If you haven’t solidly branded your art yet, then it’s time to do these 7 steps:
1. Create An Ultra Unique Value Proposition for Your Art Brand
There’s no one like you in 7 billion and it doesn’t work anymore to just sort of tell people so. In fact, you shouldn’t create your brand until you complete this.
UVP vs. UUVP
Your ULTRA unique value isn’t just your ‘special sauce’. It’s more like your ‘secret family recipe for gravy’. It’s what makes you even more different from everyone else.
Here’s what a UVP is:
“A unique value proposition is what differentiates your promise of value from every other similar promise in the same industry.
It’s the thing that makes you stand out and earn a special place in your audience’s hearts and minds. It’s what keeps people coming back to YOU in particular…” — Tony Khuon
Now, here’s what a UUVP is:
“An ULTRA unique value proposition is taking what differentiates you from all others in the same genre or industry and 1. highlighting it with strong adjectives, similes, metaphors, phrases, comparisons and/or contrasts and 2. leading with it in all communications.
It’s a way of turning up the volume and intensity of a traditional UVP by adding ultra clear and concise language with style and effectiveness.” — Paula Soito
Never let people try to figure out just how different you are on their own.
Create a clear, concise message for your art brand that speaks directly to a specific group of fans and customers. You want them to see you in a very specific way.
To do that, write a short, straightforward paragraph that includes the feelings, words, examples and ideas that pinpoint you like a bullseye.
Then deliver it everywhere: in print and online.
Here’s one I wrote as an example:
“As a modern portrait sculptor, I create quite a rare piece. My sculptures have been said to mirror the soul of your younger self. When compared to traditional sculptures, mine are carefully stylized to be cartoon-like from their form to their color.
It’s true, my early love of cartoons and continued fascination and obsession is lovingly and purposefully infused into each unique creation.”
My example may need more revision, but you understand what I’m saying.
Give people the words they need to talk about your art brand.
With a UUVP, you’ll create a ready commercial of sorts with keywords included. You’ll give fans the exact words they need to explain your work to others on your behalf.
And if you don’t know what makes you highly unique or special, don’t feel bad. Sometimes we haven’t put words to it (although if you ask your mom, she’ll know).
Here’s how to figure it out:
- Start with a compare/contrast exercise. Look at your talent/work next to others in your field or genre.
- Next, jot down synonyms, antonyms, adjectives, similes, metaphors — brain dump, basically — everything that explains what your work is and isn’t.
- Now, choose 10 words or phrases as a starting point for crafting your UUVP.
Key Takeaway —
Your UUVP tells very clearly what you are and what you are not.
It is the top of your art business funnel and it must spell out exactly what makes you unlike everyone else.
Solidify it and post it everywhere you market to fans and you’ll create phrases and keywords they can use to tout your art brand for days, months and years to come.
2. Write a PROFOUND Mission Statement
Your mission statement declares your business strategy. It tells what you do, the value you bring, how you do it and for whom.
It’s different from your UUVP which tells people about your creation, your mystical power (aka — special, secret family recipe for gravy). And it’s often more for your personal use to keep you clearly focussed as you navigate your business.
“As an entrepreneur, your company’s mission statement should be concise and specific so your customers understand your purpose and how you provide value to them.” Patrick Hull, Forbes
For example, the Arts Row mission is…
We support artists by helping them learn art business methods and practices. We give them a place to learn how to showcase their work or talent in a way that allows the right people to find them and buy from them more readily and easily.
Another one from the previous sculptor example, could be…
I give people the chance to own a portrait of themselves as they are today, but with the filter of youth. Having a rare, whimsical representation of themselves creates a nostalgic, carefree feeling when experienced.
Key Takeaway —
Your PROFOUND mission statement helps you stay laser-focussed on why you do the awesome thing you do. It guides your decision making and leads to best success as a unique artist.
3. Tell Your Art Brand Story
Your story like your value is unique. Tell your truth. Be authentic. Keep it short so it can be retold. It doesn’t have to be sensational. Open, honest and personable is the home run.
- According to Stanford, stories are 22 times more memorable than just stating facts or even figures
- Our brains react too. The neural activity in our brains increases 5X when listening to a story
- Storytelling lights up the sensory cortex in the brain. It causes the listener to feel, hear, taste, and even smell the story
Take a quick look at these stories if you need inspiration. Overall, tell us who you are, how you got to where you are and what matters to you most.
Key Takeaway —
Your brand is the combination of your creations, your voice, your history, your brand archetype and so on. And it is only as strong as its ability to create meaning where there was none before.
Nail your branding, stick to it like glue and use it as the filter you run every business action through before taking it.
4. Introduce Your Art Brand With Video
The Huffington Post shared this:
“Nielsen and the IAB report, that video is known to make a marketing campaign more effective through generating an increase in brand recall (+33%) and message recall (+45%).”
That means using video makes you a whole lot more memorable. So, don’t dismiss this one. A short video can bring your entire brand content to life, give it personality, tone and voice (yours, good-lookin’, to be exact).
For Branding –
Here’s what to include in a branding video:
- Greeting (who are you?)
- Hook (what was the internal conflict, ironic moment, life surprise, moment of dread?)
- Turning Point (when did you take the reins, change direction, alter your life, go against the grain?)
- Commonality (how are you like your buyer, how do you understand them?)
- Climax (how has all this brought you to the ‘here and now’?)
- Introduction (title of the work)
- Angles (show all angles)
- Inspiration (tell what inspired the piece)
- Features (point out best features)
- Call-to-Action (tell viewers how to purchase and give time-sensitive instructions such as “buy within 24 hours for my ‘new release’ 20% off savings, etc..)
Overall, your ability to leave a lasting impression and to earn more profit is increased with the use of video.
Key Takeaway —
Create a short, brand video that explains your brand (3 minutes). Then regularly create videos or your work. Post them everywhere people interact with your brand. Apply the ultra memorable formula for even more impact.
5. Use a Theme or Archetype to Establish Art Brand Identity
Writers often use a theme or archetype to impress upon the reader an unspoken message.
In the same way, you can breathe life and meaning into your brand. Unlike your UUVP, your brand identity or archetype/theme attaches an overall feeling to your brand. It’s done through word choice, style, messaging, color, and imagery.
Sofia Amoruso (founder of NastyGal.com and author of #GirlBoss) nailed it by mixing girly innocence with womanly sensuality. From her choice of brand colors (pink and black) to her logo (graffiti-ish), she proved she was a top-shelf brand mixologist.
For brands like Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery, brand identity gives a face to the business, builds trust and credibility, and helps bring new customers.
Here are some other archetypes to think over:
Heroism and Identity Crisis (DC comics, Death of a Salesman)
People vs. Nature (Naked and Afraid)
Underdog vs. The Giant (David & Goliath)
Aging and Rebirth (Prudential — ‘start anew, enjoy retirement’ campaign)
Journey and Return (Corona — ‘find your beach’ campaign)
Key Takeaway —
Give people an overall feeling about your brand. Your theme or archetype helps them recreate that feeling every time they come into contact with your brand.
6. Choose Your Art Brand Logo & Colors
Most artist entrepreneurs use their given name as their logo. That works well if you are the creator and owner. Keep it simple, sexy. 😉
As for color, big biz uses it as the cornerstone of its brand to impress upon people yet again a feeling and to support their mission.
Think of Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and UPS and you instantly know their colors.
Since color influences thought and behavior, it’s easy to see why big brands choose the ones they do. Here’s everything you need to know.
Key Takeaway —
Create a visual calling card for your brand by using colors and a logo that speak to who you are. Include them on business cards, your website, flyers, social media, and anywhere you market and sell. Think of it as dressing up your brand to go on a date with fans.
7. Align Yourself With Your Art Brand
As an entrepreneur, your business self and your true self are usually one in the same (totally ideal here). However, there are times when the two might not totally match up. Since you are your brand, it’s a good idea to take a look and see.
Here’s an example of an artist who’s not quite aligned with his business.
Joe Smith left the city to pursue his dream art life in the country.
His UUVP is making bespoke kites from 100% recycled materials.
His mission is to deliver the best ‘green’ kite ever made at the best price.
His theme is rebirth and conservation.
And his story is sacrificing for values — CEO turned self-made, humbled entrepreneur.
However, he delivers kites to customers in his $77K sports car wearing a Rolex.
Do you see the problem?
He’s representing something different from the brand he’s sharing with the world. And his brand it disjointed. It doesn’t build trust and loyalty.
Now, it’s completely fine if you drive a nice car — in fact, if you want to get rid of one, I’m totally open to taking it ;). Just know that to a lot of people, you represent what they esteem, admire, aspire to, etc… (you’re sort of a super hero, I’m just sayin’) and they will put a lot of stock into it.
It’s the reason they follow you, love you and tout your brand.
So, while you may not feel it’s realistic 100% of the time, it’s important for your business and for yourself that you are aware of how your customers see you.
Ask yourself what your fans and customers want from you and what you’re willing to give them. Follow your gut and your heart. Build authenticity and credibility by being transparent and sincere.
Key Takeaway —
Be yourself unapologetically. Align yourself with your brand as much as possible and you’ll solidify it as credible and trustworthy.
Well, that’s it for now.
I’ll leave you with a quote from my favorite poet, Maya Angelou, who knew something about people. She wrote,
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Remember, you’re a super hero with the power to make people fall in love with your brand.
by Paula Soito