At this time of year we're thinking about improving. We're wanting to make our marketing and branding stellar!
This best (short) list on building a long-lasting art brand can give you the most bang for your buck in a short amount of time.
These are actionable steps you can take today that’ll boost your art brand with a big return for your efforts. Even if you do just one or two of what I've got below, you'll see results for your time investment.
And what results will you get? You'll get a boost in both your fanbase and profits.
Let's get to it!
1. Start being yourself, absolutely, because the rules have changed.
That means the good, the bad and, yes, the ugly. Well, maybe not too ugly. ;)
I know what you’re thinking and I understand. Most of us were raised in an era where it was bad manners not to edit, censor and limit what we let the public see.
That’s not the complete reality now. In fact, some of the MOST successful people in the world right now are gaining traction, full speed ahead of everyone else, because they're being real.
They don't share everything though and I'm not suggesting you share everything either. I just want you to know it’s absolutely, 100% acceptable and profitable to show who you are, both good and bad, ugly, messy, or real.
The image below got 19.5K pins on Pinterest. Everyone posts a painter painting, a dancer dancing, a sculptor sculpting and this is just, well, not that.
The artist isn't posing or doing his craft. He doesn't care about your opinion on the dangers of smoking or that his hands, face and hair are caked with paint. He's just letting you see him for who he is. It's messy and raw and people love this today because it's authentic.
Image: A kind of blue... by *VladimirBorowicz on deviantART
2. Communicate in your own unique way.
If being yourself is the new proper, then another way of doing so is to use unique communication.
Obviously it wouldn’t be a surprise to you if I said you needed to communicate with your fans and patrons on a regular basis. You'd be like, "Ummm... duh. What's she talking about? Everyone knows that."
However, it IS more than likely surprising if I tell you that you’ve been doing part of it wrong.
Now you're probably saying, "Wait. How can she say that? She doesn't know how I communicate."
That's true, but see if I'm right.
If you're like most of us, then you're a tad boring when you communicate and I mean that in the nicest way possible because it's not really your fault.
Communicating has two faces. One is functional and the other is an art form. We use the first method to deliver a command, a request or information. We want to elicit a response, an action or relay a message. The second is used to evoke a feeling, to inspire, to entertain and we use this form to tell jokes and stories, to fight, to express love, to persuade and so on.
You see where I'm going with this?
So, if you're only using functional communication with your fans and patrons, you're missing out on an effective piece of your branding. I call it your flair.
Communication flair is anything from a creative way of saying “hello” to a signature phrase or quote you use when signing off on emails, texts, letters or conversations. It can even be a poem you penned that you give to patrons when they purchase your work or something as simple as a donut emoji for your middle initial (cheeky, but if it fits you, hey).
Honestly, the sky is the limit.
Here's a quick list of some very famous forms of flair to get you thinking about creating something of your own:
The Sign Off - Paul Harvey's famous, signature sign off, "and that's the rest of the story", added an iconic layer of personality to his brand.
The Interjection - J.J., on the 1970's show "Good Times" is best known for his enunciation of the 3 syllable word "dyn-o-mite".
The Attention Grabber - "Bam!" was Emeril Lagasse's way of keeping you entertained and tuned in during his cooking show, "Emeril Live".
The Saying - "Two thumbs up" (Siskel & Ebert, "Siskel & Ebert")
The Hello - Fonzie, from "Happy Days" was the epitome of cool with his signature "Aaayyyyy".
For a more realistic example, my former business partner and good friend, John Anthony (yep, he uses both his first and middle names as his given name - another way to stand out) always ends his messages and emails with the phrase, "No bad days." It totally fits who he is. I know it's coming every time and just like putting money in a vending machine and waiting for the drop, it doesn't feel like the conversation is complete until he says it.
So, I say lasso some flair of your own. Then, narrow it down to maybe a saying or sentence, a word, or a style of speech. Just be sure you choose something that fits who you are. This unique communication will come to be known as part of your branding.
3. Be accessible (aka social in the traditional sense).
Another necessity to growing big is your fans’ ability to reach you, hear from you, and interact with you.
The quickest way to do this today is social media. But simply "liking" on social media is NOT the key. For it to work best for your art brand, you have to do something I call the 3 R’s which requires you to actually use language, not just emojis.
Respond - Answer when others initiate contact first (this is a short, closed exchange)
Reach Out - Sometimes you should be the first one to initiate contact (this is also a short, closed exchange where you create a situation that prompts them respond to you)
Revolve - Once in a while, have a revolving, two-way conversation (this is a longer, open-ended exchange between you and them that requires you to ask questions to keep the interaction going)
Put social on your “To Do” list today. Cut out a couple of hours a week at least to get in touch.
*Remember, if you’re only talking to fans and patrons when you want them to buy from you, you’re being seen as selfish. I adore you, of course, but they may think you only love them for their money and attention and that doesn't work best if your goal is to create a rockstar brand.
Build trust and true love from your tribe by being social and interested consistently.
Oh, and addressing them by name from time to time will get you extra points for being more personal.
4. Publish more than just your artwork or talent. Your ideas, opinions, and works in progress are also important.
Publishing is like paving a dirt road so carloads of people can easily drive straight to your door. And each piece of content you put out there with your name on it lights another lamppost that shines directly on that road.
Not sure what to do to start? Here are just a couple of ideas that don't take too much time:
Write a short, 300 - 500 word blog post on a topic related to your art genre. Always tie it back to your own work.
Post a relevant comic or news article that appeals to your audience profile. Open up a conversation or post your opinion and ask for opposing views.
Make up a photo collage of your latest work in progress. Add your thoughts about the expected outcome. This gives fans a reason to check back and see what you ended up with.
Create a short, 2 to 3 minute video tutorial. You're the expert. Become their mini coach.
Don't forget, you don’t want to produce poor quality content, however, think about doing it routinely whether that's once a day or once a week. Make it a priority and you’ll start to show up in more and more places, you ninja you.
5. Leverage commonalities with your audience that are based on interest, location, causes, mission, etc…
You can grab a big hunk of people by appealing to their egos. By that I mean individual interests and affinities that validate our self-importance or self-esteem. We all have them and because they're important to us, it's worth looking at them. Pay attention to the things your audience finds a sense of belonging in and connection to.
If you share those things with them, then let them know! Leverage that connection. You’ll build yet another bridge that closes the gap between them and your art brand. By association, you become part of their world.
6. Boost and spread a consistent profile over every one of the platforms and advertising formats you use.
Create and/or update your profile into a well-written, concise and clear representation of yourself. I've helped hundreds of artists market their art and I cannot tell you how often I see profiles that have inconsistent, sparse or even missing information.
To help create a memorable picture of you and your artwork in people's minds, use the same version of your name, the same profile picture, the same one or two photos of your artwork, the same artist statement and/or mission and the same contact information on each one. You want your profile to represent a consistent presence everywhere so it sticks with your audience.
There are millions of places for you to present it, but here are a few to get you started: