Granite 999 Fine Art Reproductions

Marketing Your Art

2) Branding

The smell of mesquite smoke wafts through the dust laden air tinted orange from the late afternoon sun. The thundering sound of approaching hooves is punctuated by the sharp crack of a lasso, the muffled sounds of scuffle ensues followed by the scene of a bleating calf hobbling back to his mother displaying a newly acquired "w" smoldering on its rump. Overkill? Although I do not recommend searing a large "A" for artist into your hindquarters for obvious uncomfortable reasons the concept is the same. The branded calf can be recognized by the general public. In this case the message is, property of the big "W" ranch. Depending on the reputation of the ranch that mark may also communicate a list of atrocities that may befall an individual caught pilfering said cow.

The concept of branding (or visibly marking) products and services is a tried and true business practice. Some examples of successful branding are Scotch Tape, Magic Marker and of course Coke (or Pepsi). These brands or marks have become so identifiable that we actually call the product by their brand name. The correct phraseology for the products are Scotch brand transparent tape, Magic brand marker, and Coca-cola brand cola. Which would you buy if you had a choice, Fred Smith's cola or a Coke!

The point of all this is that the first thing you should do when starting a market initiative is to brand yourself. Your brand or identity is the visible and consistent mark that customers will come to learn represents you and your artwork. Once you have established your brand you don't want to alter it so this step takes careful consideration. Coke did not go with red for 10 years then change to blue, then green…get the idea.


Establishing your brand

1) Your brand can be a logo type. A logo type is a signature, a particular font, a name or any of the preceding with a basic shape or mark included. A good example of a logo type is Qoro. It includes a recognizable font within a green oval.

2) Your brand can be a logo. Logos are generally simplified marks that may or may not be representative of an object. The Apple logo is a good example. A logo can also be an artistic arrangement of your initials. The creative process for developing a logo is an arduous one. It is not a bad idea to consult with a professional to develop a good logo. If you would like to develop your own, start with a recognizable image that says something about you. Keep working at simplifying the image until you have something that is aesthetically pleasing. Be prepared to work up at least 200 variations. Out of the 200, one is bound to work. The more simplistic a logo is, the more recognizable it becomes and on the flip side the more complex a logo is the greater the chance that people will not remember it.

3) Your brand can include a catch phrase like Painter of … dare I say it … light! Be sure if you are going to use a catch phrase that it does not interfere with potential artistic growth later on. For example do not call yourself the painter of dogs unless you intend to paint only dogs for the rest of your life.

4) Your brand should consist of a standard color or set of colors. It can be your favorite color or a color that you like to use in your work. Be sure that you do not pick a color that can not be reproduced in print form. Avoid metallic, fluorescent, iridescent or fully saturated colors (like cobalt blue straight from the tube).

5) Your brand can say something about you personally. Maybe you like to sail, your brand could include a set of lines that represent the spinnaker sail of a racing yacht. Avoid a logo that is too representative, like an entire sailboat, as you run the risk of confusing your clients as to your occupation. The exception would be if you were a "painter of sailboats".

6) Your brand can say something about your artwork. It could include a favorite passage from one of your works or a particular style or technique you use frequently. Avoid using an entire painting as your brand. When you experience artistic growth the urge to swap an older painting for an updated one will be hard to resist. If you do swap them out you have changed your brand!

7) Your brand can be a combination of all of the above. I should reword that to say your brand should be a combination of all of the above.

8) Once you have developed your mark, use it on everything. Put it on your artwork, signs, business cards, posters, post cards, brochures, tear sheets, letterhead and envelopes, note cards and your portfolio. Put it on your website, facebook page, your car and your dog. Put it on mugs to give away, shirts to wear, magnets for your fridge and stickers for anywhere. If you can't actually use the mark wear the colors, buy a car in that color, or paint your studio or house that color. The overly graphic point is to live the identity and eventually people will start to recognize the mark and associate it with you and your artwork. When you hand out a business card, or send a post card that prompts someone to visit your website and they are identical it works to reinforce your brand and that is the whole idea.

9) One final point. Stick to the identity when you are designing any new marketing materials. The required repetitive nature of successful branding is difficult for a creative personality to adapt to. Introducing new colors, or new design elements sends mixed signals into the community and confuses your brand. Branding is only effective if you adhere to it without exception.