Other people’s impressions
As artists many of us openly show more of our inner souls than probably any other line of work. Do we need to manage what we convey of ourselves to other people? I think we do. Because as artists we’re not just individuals expressing ourselves – each of us is also the champion of our own art business. If we don’t believe in and sell ourselves no one else will. So, personal branding (or impression management) is the topic of my article this month – what it is and how to do it.
Celebrate your authentic difference
Personal branding implies that we have to package ourselves. I think in the past this sort of packaging was devised by marketing experts to hide business faults and show the face that was expected by the general public. But the function of branding has changed radically over the last few years. And possibly the key expectation of brands now is authenticity. It’s not about pretending to be something you’re not – it’s about knowing yourself, recognising what you’re good at and celebrating the way you stand out from the crowd. Then thinking about how you convey that to your customers.
Champion of your own brand
Perhaps as artists, conformity is what we are not meant to be good at. Yet at the same time there is that expectation that as the face of your art business you will conform at some social level. It’s not just about what you say you do, it’s about the way you are with other people. You know the sorts of things that are expected in business circles: being on time, caring how you look, smiling when you meet people, keeping your promises, apologising if things go wrong, thanking people who do you a favour. Now that is all considered to be part and parcel of a personal brand too – and you can add your own slant to all these niceties.
Grow your creativity
I worry about some art outlets because I think they encourage artists to work like factory conveyor belts. I think formulas spoil the art market. A style should be something that develops and changes with time and grows with the artist. A theme is something you may want to keep returning to because it is part of your life and your soul. But a formula is the dead end in an artist’s journey. Your brand shouldn’t mean a formula – your own brand should widen your creative horizons not limit them.
The whole social networking phenomenon has changed the way many of us reach and see each other. There is an expectation that we involve ourselves in social networks – but it could be part of your brand that you don’t. However, an aspect of branding that is more fun not to ignore is about making waves – or at least ripples that widen and involve more people. Taking that plunge and contributing to the way society works, thinks, learns, sees or enjoys itself is the best way to lift your brand out of the doldrums. How does your brand do this? And how will those ripples widen in the future?
by Belinda Naylor-Stables
If you have any advice to give to members on ways you’ve developed your brand or links that make your art business work better – please let us know! Add your comments below.