Doing Business: Branding

What is the first thing you think of when I mention Van Gogh? Is it Starry Starry Night? Even though he didn’t consciously make this his brand it’s what I believe most people think of when his name is mentioned.

Branding is, for artists, the image or symbol that viewers think of first when they think of the artist and their art. This is what will set you apart.

I have had comments from artists that marketing is too crass or something that artists shouldn’t have to engage in. Think of marketing as letting people know that you exist. After you let them know that you exist you will want them to remember you and a strong “brand” will help you do this.

Here are a few principles of branding and something called Brand Management to help you get started….

  1. Remember that if you are making art there is a reason. You have a message to share with the world. You have a voice. It is your responsibility to make sure that message is heard, again and again.
  1. Branding helps you deliver your message clearly and consistently. Consistency is key to good brand development and management.
  1. It connects with your Target Market (or your niche) emotionally. Remember that art usually illicits an emotional response to begin with. Research your target market to find out what that is (if you are not aware already) and use it to market your work.
  1. It motivates viewers into becoming buyers. That emotional response may make them want to live with your work. Not just view it in a gallery or on the internet but have it in a place where they can see it daily, in their home or office.
  1. It concretes buyer loyalty. The people who have already bought your work will become collectors and possibly life long collectors.

A brand for artists should be a work of art or a logo that defines you and your art. A color palate that is strong or a strong sculptural shape are good examples. You can also use your signature, type or a symbol that relates to your work. Any of these are the equivalent of a logo.

Just to share a bit of information relating to the art world and logos…. Open a copy of ArtNews or another well respected art magazine. You will see that most of the galleries are using type based logos. I suspect that it is because they don’t want to interfere with they are presenting.

Consistency and persistence are key to the success of your brand. You need to imprint that message again and again in the minds of your viewers and keeping that message clear and concise will help as well. Always use your logo or an image with your posts on social media and on your print materials. It goes without saying that you should also use images on your website but there should be something in the banner that makes an impression as well.

Another key part of branding is connecting with your viewers emotionally. Viewers respond to art emotionally to begin with. It’s just a matter of doing some research to find out how they connect with your art and pushing that envelope in your branding.

Here are some things to consider when you are researching what makes your viewer respond the most.

  • Do you give them peace of mind?
  • Does your art illicit a response every day, whether that is to give your viewers pleasure or to make them think about your message.
  • Do you inspire them? (Preferably every day).
  • Do you give them a deeper sense of satisfaction? That Ahhh! or Ah Ha! moment when they look at your art?
  • Do you make them feel that you are easily approachable?

Remember that you can’t please all people all of the time. You will have to find your niche. Your Target Market. I will give you some tips on finding your Target Market in the next post.


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