Taking on the Task: Branding

In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding
In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding

I know everyone is writing blog posts about New Years Resolutions, but I decided to write about the feel of New Years. It is all about a new start, a new year, and being your best self ever this time around! So, here is your inspiration to rebrand yourself at the beginning of this year, and how to go about doing it.

A huge part of having any business is branding yourself. With the internet and social media, it is now even more important to choose the right elements that represent your business. Disclaimer: this can take a really long time to make right if you are trying to do it yourself. You can choose to do some things, and hire others to do the rest, though, so don't get too overwhelmed.

1. Figure out your message.

I won’t lie, for me, this was the hard part. Why buy art? I know why I am making it and selling it, but why should my customers care? Why should they spend the money on it? It is a hard question. The art market is generally a luxury market. People with a lot of money buy art from dead people as an investment and a few buy it from living people, also as an investment but also if they have enough money to just have nice things and show them off. Then there is the commercial route, with a lot of repetition. These artist selling cheap pieces at tourist locations. Of course, there is a little in overlap depending on the different routes you can take, but where do I fit in? I’m not a pattern maker where I can sell my designs to be reprinted everywhere and I don't like doing realist paintings anymore, so I can’t do portrait commissions. So I started to think about that gap. I know art is important for culture, blah blah, but it is really just an expression of who you are. I also thought about my previous apartment in college and how people would come in and say wow it looks like a real apartment, because there were paintings on the wall that I hung there to store them. 20-nothings want to start to feel like an adult, and that means art on their walls. That means making it accessible to them. Not too expensive with lots of different pricing options. But even bigger than that, I needed my art and buying it to represent more than what it was. So I thought about why I was doing this. It is my dream. And I thought about why it was so hard to follow. The missing piece was how art students who graduate know what their dream is but don't know how to make it a reality, and don't realize all the different paths they can take with it. Then one step further, everyone has a dream of some sort, and I wanted to show them how they could get there. As I am figuring it out, I can share it with them. And that is really what it is all about. Inspiring people to live their life in color. It took about 9 months for this whole process, and it's definitely not over. So what's your story? What's your thought process? There are also so many tools you can use to help you figure it out. Work smarter, not harder by using what works for you, whether it is writing it down, again and again, taking long showers, talking to someone else, etc.

2. Who is your audience?

You probably hear this all the time, but sometimes that can be hard. How much do you limit yourself? Especially with art, I know the bigger pond is older richer people, but that’s not who I want my customer to be. I want to be specific, but not lose out on those sales. So I have some things that are expensive, with a section in my business plan on getting back into the gallery scene. But most of my pieces are inexpensive, with super cheap print options, and commissions for everything in between. But! BUT! All of my marketing is catered to younger people. That gives them a chance to grow with me, and have somewhere to go. What abstract concepts are you selling? What is the mindset of your ideal customer? Demographics are great if you can narrow it down that much, but with the internet where they are buying from opens up. I think what is more important is getting in the mind of your customer. Are they creative? Open minded? Inquisitive? Do they like to hang out outside or inside? What do they care most about? Once you have a good idea of that, then you can figure out where they go for information. That is when you can start forming a plan of action.

In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding

3. Logo.

Now you have to say all of that in a simple logo. If you're thinking to yourself, "How in the world do I make my company name say my message and attract my customers without words??" Then consider hiring a graphic designer. Elements like colors, fonts, images or shapes can all be used to get across your message. Graphic designers know how to speak that language and get your message across. Get a general, simple logo you really like, then make 2 more based on that that you can use for different things. 

4. Colors.

From going through the logo process you might have already figured out which colors represent your brand the most, but really think about it. For me, this was easy. I didn’t want it to be bright, but I wanted to be down to earth and hopeful. I wanted them to have a feeling like people are connecting to their roots to find the answers about how to move forward. Make sure your colors represent your message. You aren’t going to want to use dark red to represent world peace. 

5. Fonts.

In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding

You also might already have an idea about this but there are a lot of different fonts out there. You can even make your own. But always make sure people can read them! This also might seem like common sense, but some fonts you really can't read, even if you think they look cool. If you are a magazine, you are going to want to use clearer fonts like times new roman or Helvetica, but if you are an organic farm you might want to use more organic shapes for your letters. Maybe something swirly. You can have a couple, but make sure they go together and that you know when you are going to use them, like your logo, heading, and body of the text.

6. Graphic elements.

These should be simple. If you already have some in your logo then you are halfway there, but you should have a couple. I have some blog icons that I didn’t end up using. I also have paintbrushes in my brand colors and some watercolor brushstrokes that I use as elements.

In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding

7. Backgrounds and patterns.

These were tricky for me because, again I am not good with patterns, but they will present themselves you. My backgrounds are details of some of my pieces that have my brand color palette or a palette that I use a lot. The patterns I got from repeating my logo and graphic elements. 

8. Pictures that represent your brand.

Are there pictures you have taken or that you can find online that really represent your brand feel? You don’t ever have to use these (and I would shy away from using any that you find online for marketing purposes) but it will give you a quick reminder of what the feel of the brand represents at a glance. 

In the Studio - Taking on the Task: Branding

9. Your Tagline.

Whittle down your message until you can say it in about 5 words. Also, practice your elevator speech. If someone asks, what do you do? What are you going to say to clearly express:

  1. What you sell.
  2. What your message is.
  3. Why they should be a customer/others should be a customer.
  4. Call to action. What do you want them to do?

10. Put it all together.

Hang it up in your workspace. Keep it near you. Change your computer background to your logo. Use this template to create a marketing sheet. Or make your own using these examples. If you keep it around you, everything you do will be aligned with your brand subconsciously. Know it inside and out. 

And that is the base of your brand, but that is only stepping one. And this took me about a year to figure out. Know your limits though. If you are struggling with something, ask someone to list of some adjectives they think of when they look at your logo (people tend to panic and shut down if you ask what they think of looking at a design, asking for simple adjectives is something they can generally handle). And if you really are like "how can I even begin to do all of this," consider hiring someone. It might be costly, but there are people who do really great work out there. 

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Kelsey Fons

Owner and Founder, kfons