The word “branding” can be a daunting one, especially because it sounds super corporate, which artists don’t tend to be fond of, but it’s actually way more important than you may think! We believe every artist that wants to be successful needs to understand branding and they will only grow once they have branded themselves/their art.
Unfortunately there are a lot of misunderstandings with branding, so we want to paint you a very easy to understand picture of branding and tell you why you need it!
“A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if anyone could look at your social media and know exactly what you do without reading your bio.”
1. Branding is not marketing, and you can't market yourself properly without branding.
Here’s a quick explanation of branding vs marketing so you have a better understanding of the differences but how they go hand in hand.
Branding - to put it simply; defining yourself. But here’s a definition pulled from the Business Dictionary “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”
Marketing - actively branding and advertising yourself or a product. “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
So branding on it’s on is great, but no one will know about your branding without marketing, but you can’t properly market yourself without great branding. Branding comes first, and then marketing get’s your brand out there.
(image of RAW artist @mira_design's instagram feed)
2. You’re probably already branding yourself, but not the way you should be.
Your brand is your company/project’s identity, and whether you’ve put endless hours into making your brand or have never even thought about branding, you’ve been branded. It’s a fact.
Here’s a quick list to see what your branding is now.
1. Look at your social media. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if anyone could look at your social media and know exactly what you do without reading your bio. People are visual and if they look at your feed and see a mixture of art and food photos with some selfies mixed in there, they’re already thinking you’re not professional and pretty normal (unless you're a MUA, in that case selfies are practically necessary). Whether you like it or not, you’ve branded yourself as “not legit”.
2. What does your website look like? .. or do you even have a website? No matter how hip you are, you need a website. If you don't have one, you're branding yourself as "not pro enough to have a website yet". You need professional material, great images, good recordings, beautiful videos, and a website. Why would you do any less than represent your art in the best way possible? We know it’s difficult and can be expensive to get professional images, pro videos and recordings, but that’s why we’re here! We want help connect you to your local art community to collaborate/help each other out, give you valuable tools to grow your identity and brand, and help you make some money to invest in your art.
(image of RAW Seattle artist Ciera Shaver's website)
3. Your art is the product, the brand, the entity! Of course, no matter what your social media looks like or if you have a website, you need good art. That is the core of your brand, that is what you’re selling, that IS the brand. So, is your art cohesive? Are you making one form of art? Are you specializing in totally unique and totally you art that if anyone saw it they would be able to know right then that you made it? That’s the ultimate goal, but if your art is all over the place, you’re making 2 completely different forms of art (like paintings and music under the same name), or the pieces are totally different styles, you’re having an art identity crisis and you need to consolidate and choose to do what you’re best at. Sorry if this is getting too deep, but your brand will only be complete when you know exactly what your intention and goal is. Being amazing at 1 thing is far more valuable than being okay at 4 things.
3. What can you do now?
So, from going over those 3 things, what is your brand right now? What is your art’s identity? We see hundreds of artists work every day and it’s super unfortunate seeing how many amazing artists are just missing out by not branding themselves properly. So we’re here to help! Here are a couple steps you can follow to fix up your branding.
1. Choose and define your 1 thing. This can be done by deciding to do what makes you happiest, asking friends what they think you’re best at, and choosing what 1 thing makes you stand out. Then once you’ve decided on your 1 thing, define it. Write down your description of your art then ask a friend how they would describe it and then compare the 2. You want what people see and how they describe your art to be exactly what you want them to see. Sure, art can be interpreted in different ways, but you need to know exactly what other people see/hear when they experience your art, and then if it’s not what you want them to see/hear, make some changes. Once you’re making art exactly how you want to and you’re getting the reaction you want, define the brand in every way possible, including writing a bio, making a vision board, making a logo and reinforce the brand by embracing it and becoming part of your brand.
2. Once you have a collection of art that you feel is cohesive/purely what you want your art to be and you’ve defined your brand, you need to bring it to life! No matter what art form you do, you need professional images that represent your brand and showcase your art. We can’t stress this enough, as images are how we advertise our RAW shows and no matter how good you are, if you don’t have good images, you don’t look pro. You also need to show people exactly what you do in the best way possible, whether this means videos or recordings, find a way to show them while staying within your branding. Trust us, it’s worth investing in your brand! So save up, collaborate with other artists/photographers in your community and do everything to can to have an endless and consistent collection of content that is totally your brand!
(image of RAW artist @jacobjonascompany's instagram feed)
3. The last thing there is to do to have a complete brand is to act the part. You want to be taken seriously? You need to take yourself seriously first. No one is going to come along and hand you the perfect opportunity for exposure or growth, you must grow your brand on your own and only then will you see people taking interest. So act as pro as possible complete with a website, consistent social media, reach out to press and do the footwork by connecting with your local and online art community. The best kind of buzz is word of mouth, so get as many people interested and rooting you/your brand on as possible. Again, this will only come from being consistent, having a well defined and presented brand, daily creating your art and staying connected with other artists.
Once you’ve done all these things, we guarantee that you will see growth and feel so much more proud and fulfilled by your art. No one likes feeling like they don’t have an identity, so give your art the branding and identity it deserves, because you are your art! It wouldn’t exist without you, and that’s the beautiful thing about branding, defining your art is to define yourself. Be proud of the art that you and only you can make, and share it with the world in the best way possible.
For some examples, we recently shared 5 of our favourite instagram feeds from RAW artists. Each of them have completely different art forms and vibes, but they each have found their style and branding, which has greatly contributed to their success. Read about each of them and check out their feeds HERE.
Keep on creating.
xo - RAW Social Media Manager