Brand is a word bandied about so often that you can’t help but roll your eyes when you hear it.
Talking about your personal brand, your branded presence, whether you’re on-brand or off if you know your brand identity- it all starts to sound pretentious and pointless. Even worse, it sounds overtly commercial. That’s because sometime between the 80s and the 90s brands became synonymous with logos and those logos were usually big and brash.
All that said, brand isn’t a bad word. It’s a key element in building your career and establishing your profile. Ultimately your brand is far from a logo, a font and a colour palette. It’s a potent mix of your reputation, people’s perception of you and the little reflections or signifiers of your values, tastes and intentions that you put out into the world. And yes, at some point these signifiers may even include choices you make around fonts, colours and yes, even a logo.
As an artist, you have a distinct advantage over any huge global corporations. You’re innately creative, you have a simple decision-making structure (that is, you probably don’t have to run every idea past a Board!) and you know yourself and your work better than any consultant ever will. You’re also able to maintain guardianship over your brand and ensure that the two key elements of any brand, consistency and authenticity, stay true to you and your work.
How does authenticity help me communicate my brand?
The quote often apocryphally attributed to Oscar Wilde “Be yourself. Everybody else is taken” sums up the advantages of authenticity. It’s more straightforward to maintain and when people meet you they won’t feel an odd sense of jarring or disconnection on an intuitive level which can translate to unease or distrust on the cognitive level. Most persuasively of all, people just respond better to authenticity. Often your brand already exists, it just hasn’t been expressed across multiple platforms or with any consistency. Speaking of which…
What about consistency? That doesn’t sound exciting.
If it was a competition between authenticity and consistency, the smart money would bet on consistency. Consistency isn’t the same thing as uniformity and it shouldn’t feel constrictive or boring. Consistency means that you have a solid brand foundation that you can build on, that you can check back in with and rely on. It saves time. Instead of wracking your brain to write another 100-word bio you can use that creative power to add flourishes or tweaks to the one you have in your back pocket (or “brand kit”). It helps people talk about you and makes it easy for media and advocates to promote you to your target. It builds a connection between you and your audience who have grown to understand your work and your career and feel aligned with it. Consistent is the best possible thing that your brand could be because it solves problems and gives you answers.
Acknowledging collaborators and partners
We love great collaboration. But what happens when your artist’s brand needs to coexist alongside another? The best part about strategic partnership is the advantages and credibility each side brings to the venture and it’s important that you discuss how your brands will interact, the hierarchy and any complications. When it comes to your supporters you’ll find that government organisations, Trusts and Foundations will have clear guidelines about how to acknowledge them. We also strongly encourage you to use our own ACF brand and logos to help people know where they can support your project and add credibility to your fundraising campaigns.
When your brand is a genuine representation of you and you work it will confidently communicate your creative values to your audience. We’ve created a resource to help you articulate and represent your brand. Find it here and give it a go! Let us know if you have any questions or you’d like to give us feedback, we’d love to hear from you.