Saturday, April 4, 2020
Branding for Artists
** UPDATE: This is no longer a quick note. It became a full on blog post. Enjoy. :) **
A quick note on "brand".
Brand is what helps people understand and connect with you.
In these Internet streets, that's essential.
I define brand in two ways:
Definition #1: "Perceived Value" - When people think about your personal brand, your art brand, your friend brand, your employee brand, etc. they have a perceived value rating for you. The higher that perceived value, the greater your ability to move minds...or...influence.
Definition #2: "The story that's going on in others' heads when you're not around." - When people think about you what do they think about? Think about Disney, Netflix, the NFL, your cousin, Mr Benja, Andy Warhol, Dr Phil, The Avengers, In-N-Out, etc.
And...other definitions: You can also check Merriam-Webster or some other smart people for their definitions. It's worth noting that the name comes from livestock branding, which is how people literally marked the ownership of their products. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brand>
As artists, we're in a weird position to craft a combined personal and professional brand. I need to figure this type of branding out for myself.
So what do I know about branding? Well, for much of my life, I've worked to design brand for games, products, movements, technologies, etc. Rockstar Games Table Tennis is an example of a team project where I was the lead game designer. (Much of the visual styling was all from corporate though. They do great work.) The entire campaign relied heavily on multiple levels of branding. <https://www.rockstargames.com/tabletennis/>
Now that I'm out of the corporate scene, I've realized that I NEED a personal brand to communicate my ideas effectively. Unfortunately, personal branding doesn't come naturally to me. My unregulated thoughts are far too weird to simply "say what's on my mind". (Damn that computer science background.) Even if you've never thought about it, you may be a personal branding natural, or maybe not.
But shouldn't success be all about the product? Well...it CAN be, but you're leaving a lot of opportunity untapped as well as wading in dangerous territory, especially for an artist. First of all, a small amount of brand consideration can make your product/service/idea go a lot farther. Secondly, in this era we're in, I guarantee that I can acquire a better image than you would create -- and likely for cheaper. Your brand is what will set your work apart from being a mere commodity.
Over the past couple years I've FINALLY starting working on my personal brand because I'm seeing how much it can get me. I'd rather just be a hermit and hoard my creations outside of the public eye. The whole personal branding thing really doesn't come naturally to me, I'm actually envious of people that just live life as a natural brand. I mean...I'll never be fake, but following the unqualified "Be Yourself" mantra has gotten me into a lot of trouble. In 2020, I'm working on avoiding those troubles.
A simple example is my regular Facebook posts. (See attached image.) Most of my posts all follow a basic format, background, and style. It gets people to understand my message faster. They get FAR more traction than my other post types. But I actually took the time to work out how I should communicate consistently on my main feed. It worked, and I had time to figure it out in a safe place. Now, they're flow pretty easily, and I can create variations.
I'm still a work in progress and would never call myself an "expert", but I can't stress the importance of the brand enough in this attention age.
Anyway, this was just an observation and a sharing of what I'm thinking about. I'm going to revisit my Instagram right now and will keep stumbling along horribly until I get it right.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on brand for artists.
- Mr Benja -
Posted by Mr Benja at April 04, 2020