Thursday, October 23, 2008

creating your brand - marketing ideas for artists

The previous post had us visiting the world of reincarnated tea. Here are some more of my thoughts on marketing and some ideas on how artists can set themselves apart.

Before I get started, let me encourage you by saying that you have everything in you that you need to succeed at marketing yourself and your art. How do I know this? Well, as an artist you have already proven that you are creative and good marketing is just using creativity to sell! It really is that simple.

So lets get creative. First of all, what is your brand? Do you have one? Do you even know what I mean by brand?

Brand refers to one's identity.

If I say the following words to you, what comes to mind? Campbell's Soup, The Red Cross, Sara Lee, Betty Crocker, Amnesty International, McDonalds, National Geographic, Neutrogena, Ben and Jerry's, Heinz. Brands are not just for corporations. Think of Oprah, Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, Madonna.

Perhaps you immediately pictured a logo. Perhaps certain colours came to mind when you heard a company's name. Did you think of other things? Did you suddenly visualize a hamburger when you read McDonalds? Perhaps you saw golden arches. Did you immediately think of a company's advertising? Perhaps you thought of a slogan or a jingle from a commercial. What sort of photography do you expect when you think of National Geographic images? What sort of work comes to mind when you think of The Red Cross or Amnesty International?

Our brand refers to what people associate with us when they hear our name, our company's name (if you have one) and when they encounter our work. Ben and Jerry's hope that you perceive them as offering very high quality ice cream. Heinz wants you to think that they have such a superior product that when it comes to ketchup "there are no other kinds". National Geographic consistently produces a magazine offering thought provoking articles and world renowned photography. As a consumer, we know what to expect from them and they don't disappoint us. To be a successful humanitarian organization, you must work to build trust. If we do not believe in their strong values then we will not financially support their efforts. So are you getting the idea?

To establish an identity or brand isn't as scary or as difficult as it seems. To get started all you need to do is think of ways to promote what is unique about what you do. Here are some ideas:

  • Perhaps the style of your art is quite distinctive. Ideally, there should be something about your work that makes it different than your peers. This could be something like your stroke technique or the colours you love to work in.
  • Maybe you work in an unusual medium or with unusual methods. For example, perhaps you work in coloured pencil on board instead of paper or perhaps you always use solvents.
  • Do you work in an unusual location? Perhaps you work in a renovated chicken coop and you offer workshops there too. That isn't too common.
  • Perhaps your choice of subject matter is rather unusual.
  • Consistency is an easy way to achieve branding. You might wish to have a certain font used in all of your correspondence - from business cards to your website. Choose colours that reflect you and use them in all of your press - from media cards, advertising, letter head, to mailing labels etc.
  • Use consistent framing so that if someone were to see your work in a show, they would know who the artist is.
  • Display consistent values. Become know for integrity, fairness, and honesty. Display a consistent level of quality in your work. Why not make excellence part of your brand? How about being consistently passionate and enthusiastic?
  • You might wish to create a logo. Or how about coming up with a tagline?

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Marketing can be fun and creative, in fact I think it should be. For more info you can surf the web, you can look at books at your library or you can check out magazines (yes, there are marketing magazines, you can find them at larger booksellers). If you would like some input from others, why not invite a few friends round? Together, have a look at the product(s) you produce and ask for ideas. What do they think is unique about you and your work? How do they perceive your 'brand'? Do some brainstorming. Don't forget that you can get great ideas from your mentors. Who do you look up to? Think of some local artists that you know and admire (they can be woodcarvers, potters, not just painters). What do their business cards and media cards look like? How do they advertise and promote themselves?

As you can see, this isn't difficult stuff. Maybe you just need to take some time to consider this aspect of being an artist. Why not get creative about selling your work? Maybe all you need to do is to focus on this for a bit. Why not ask more from yourself? Maybe you just need to commit to coming up a bit higher in a few areas - some key areas that will help you perfect your branding. For example maybe you need to commit to having all of your framing look great (no sneaking in some cheap frames, or poorly cut mats hoping people won't notice), maybe you commit to only showing your best work (no sneaking in a few lesser works in the hopes that someone won't notice and will buy them - remember these works reflect on everything else you are showing), and perhaps you commit to being enthusiastic in front of your customers (no more complaining about slow attendance or poor sales).

I hope these posts have started you thinking about your marketing plans. It really doesn't take thousands of dollars and a team of marketing professionals to give your business a boost. You are more than capable of doing this yourself. If any readers have some ideas they would like to share, please start a discussion and write a comment. Are you ready? Get branding!


Marsha Robinett said...

I always enjoy a well written article about marketing. As you said consistency and repetition is the secret the 'big boys' use. There is no reason as artists we can't use their methods to develop our own 'brand'.

Teresa Mallen said...

Thanks for stopping by Marsha. I agree, there is no reason we can't do it!