The basics to creating your artist brand
As an artist, you may think you don’t need to worry about brand the way “regular” businesses do, but that’s not true!
You are still a brand. It’s a more personal brand, intrinsically tied to who you are as a person. And having some brand guidelines will help make you stand out, present a cohesive feel, and more!
Difference between brand and branding
“Brand” and “branding” tend to be used interchangeably, yet they aren’t the same thing (though they are parts of a whole). I’m not going to reinvent the wheel when so many people have done the work already, so here’s a good article that sums up the difference and how they interact.
Additionally, there is the confusion and assumption that brand = logo. While a logo (and standard colors and fonts) are brand assets, they are just one part of a larger whole.
Basically, your brand is a cohesive package of who you are and what you present to your customers/fans, including HOW you present.
Establishing your brand
To start with, grab some paper or open a notepad on your tablet and start brainstorming by answering these questions:
- What makes you/your creations unique? What perspective or feeling are you expressing in your art? (tied into your USP – see last week’s blog post.)
- What are a few of your main passions & interests? Do they show up in your work? Do you use your work to support them?
- List 3 adjectives that describe the personality of you and your art.
- List the top 3 values that are most important to you/your art.
The Why, What, and How – Establishing your vision, mission, and values
It may seem silly to do this as a solo creative, but I promise it will help you clarify your thoughts and what you want to present.
Your vision is the short version of your WHY. When the road gets tough and you can’t remember why you’re doing this, it’s nice to have your vision to look at and remind you. Your vision does not have to relate to everyone, and it’s going to be a bit of a mix of professional and personal.
There aren’t hard and fast rules for writing a vision statement, but here are some helpful tips to get your brain going:
- Think about why you wanted to do this in the first place.
- If everything goes the way you want to, what does success look like? Who are you selling to, where are you taking things, what’s a normal day?
- Use powerful, meaningful, and inspirational language. Try not to be generic.
- Set goals that will help you keep moving forward.
- Look toward the future, where you will be in a few years, etc.
- All that being said, be sure it’s still realistic and achievable.
Your mission statement is the fancy version of WHAT your business does. It can cover why people should buy from you, help clarify your goals, and tells people what makes you unique. Again, try not to stress over finding the perfect words right now, you can refine it later. To get started, answer these questions:
- If I asked you to define your business/art/creations, what words come to mind?
- What are your values (see the next section)?
- What are you good at/what do you specialize in?
- What makes you different?
- What do you hope to achieve through all this?
- What positive impact do you want to have?
Next, take the ideas that you got from those and whittle it all down to answer the next 3 questions:
- Put as simply as possible, what do you do?
- What makes your products/art different or special?
- What benefits or positive impact do your products or business provide?
Cobble those together and you’ve written version one of your mission!
Your art business values are likely the same or very closely related to your personal values. They describe your culture, your priorities, and your ethics. Since your vision is the WHY, and your mission statement is the WHAT, then your values are the HOW of your creative business. Your values are a reminder of what is important for you. The best way to figure these out is, yep, you guessed it, start brainstorming. Write down ANY word or adjective you think could describe your values. Then start grouping similar words and revise down until you have a smaller list that feels like it matches you.
If you need ideas to get you going, check out this List of 500 core values.
Elevator Pitch & “About Me”
An elevator pitch is a quick summary of what you are all about. Basically, it’s the quick way to introduce yourself (as an artist with a business) to someone you haven’t met before. It’s the prepared answer to the dreaded “Who are you/what do you do?”. It helps you avoid getting caught by surprise and the more you use it, the more confidently you’ll be able to talk about yourself (and you’ll sound more professional)!
To get you started, here’s a template (obviously, make it more personal/adapt it to what you do):
Hi, I’m [NAME], the artist/founder/owner/creator of [ART BIZ NAME]. I offer/create/design [TYPE OF THING] for/featuring [DETAILS]. All of my designs/creations/etc are [UNIQUE THING] so that [BENEFIT OF UNIQUE THING].
Craft an About Me for your website/social media
Okay, I know you’re probably ready to be done writing things about yourself. We’re almost done.
Your “About me” for your website (or as your bio on social media like Facebook) should be an expansion of your elevator pitch. You can take that foundation and build on it – make it more personal, tell a bit of your story, or share and “Aha!” moments that got you to where you are. A great way to add to this is to ask some friends for words and phrases that come to mind when they think of you or your creations. Match your personality – if you’re more serious, this can read more seriously. If you’re more relaxed or like to be funny, let that shine through. It can be shorter or long.
Links to some “About Me” pages I love:
Elements of your brand
So now we’re on to the look of your brand – the colors and logos, etc. Where do you start?
My suggestion? Spend some time on google and find at least 5 images that resonate with you. Favorite things, favorite colors, etc. Then go to Adobe Color and import your collage, it will give you options for color palettes based on what you have.
Once you decide on a palette, make sure you keep a list of the hex color code numbers (for online) and RGB numbers (for print) for each.
Your next step is fonts. You’re going to want at least 2, and here’s why – you need contrast.
You can use complementary fonts (A Sans Serif and a Serif) or mix styles from one font family (All caps version, italics, regular). Each font has a job –
THIS IS A HEADING
THIS IS A SUBHEADING
This is body text
Typography is it’s own huge thing, so for more help on fonts including how to pair them and resources to find them, check out this article.
Canva also has a whole page of suggested pairings.
Put it everywhere!
Now you can incorporate these colors and fonts into your logo, your avatar, your website, social media banners, and print materials (business cards, etc.). In fact, for easy reference I suggest creating a one-sheet style guide for your brand look, which has the fonts and color palette with numbers.