When you're ready to turn your art into a business, the same approach holds true for you as it does for any business: you need to develop a strong brand that will drive your marketing plans.
This can sound easier than it actually is, especially if you're not quite sure what the difference between branding and marketing is. Or, where to start.
So what exactly is the difference between branding and marketing?
We reached out to Bonnie Glendinning, a brand strategist for artists and creator of The Artists’ Mentor, to nail down the difference between branding and marketing and why they both matter for your art business.
Follow these four principles used by professional marketers to build your brand and grow your business.
Dig Deep to Discover Your Brand
For artists who find it challenging to develop their brand, the first step is to throw out the misconception that a brand is just a logo and a website.
Branding is a process of self-discovery. You will need to think about what your brand will mean to your audience once you present it to them.
Why do you make the kind of artwork you do? Do you have a common message you are trying to get across with your art?
This message will be your unique mission and value proposition. It will be what people think of when they hear your name and it’s what will set you apart from other artists.
“You are selling an emotion and experience to your customers,” says Bonnie, “your brand will bridge the relationship gap from stranger to customer.”
Looking for great examples? Check out featured artist Peter Bragino who has built his brand around his philanthropic pursuits.
Leverage Your Brand to Engage an Audience
Your brand is the compass that guides your marketing—it leads you to a strong following. You will market to your following and earn their trust. The trust is what leads to sales.
Branding could even be considered more important than marketing for scaling a business.
“Your brand is the foundation of your business and makes you relatable to your customers,” says Bonnie. “If you are not a relatable brand then you will not have customers to market to.”
It is easy to commit to your brand if you keep your personality a part of the message. If you are true to yourself and your beliefs, it will most likely be reflected in your brand. Plus, it should lead you to an audience that can relate to you not just your product, but the lifestyle and values around your artwork.
When you have a relatable brand, selling your work will feel more natural to you and the marketing aspects should come easier.
Use Marketing to Interact With Your Customers
Marketing is simply an expression of your brand. If your goal is to increase sells, which it is for most art businesses, then you have to promote your branded message.
You use marketing to interact with your customers and community.
If you want to take it one step further, you can use your defined audience to determine where to market to them. If your ideal customer likes to go to local farmers markets, place some of your marketing materials in that area. If your brand is focused on making people feel connected to the earth, try creating a campaign where you donate portions of the proceeds to an environmental nonprofit. This will make your brand recognizable and set you apart from other art businesses.
Be Consistent With Your Brand in Your Marketing Efforts
Once you have nailed down what defines your brand, it will carry through in everything your customers come into contact with: email correspondence, social media, live events, print and digital materials, vendors, partners, and all marketing aspects.
Bonnie leaves us with this: “Being consistent with your art brand across all touchpoints will ultimately provide market differentiation and leverage, engender a loyal following, inspire diversification to cross into new growth areas, and help command a premium price.”
Have Fun and Stay True to Yourself
Most importantly, have fun with your art business. Incorporate your creative strengths into your marketing, be authentic to yourself in crafting your brand, and make your art and art business come together in a cohesive and meaningful way.
Need a little inspiration for unique ways to market your brand? Take a look at what has worked for other artists.