Branding and Self-Promotion for the Artist and Entrepreneur

The catch phrase of the decade is “Brand It.” From coast to coast, it seems like every other person I meet these days is a “Brand Manager.” It has got to be one of the largest emerging industries of our time, yet I ask you: It is simply a “re-branded” spin on the age-old industry of public relations (the original spin doctors)?
What is the difference? What exactly is branding? And why should you be concerned with it?
Let’s go to Wikipedia (the branded leader of online definitions) by way of a Google Search (the branded leader of finding information online) to find that:
Brand management is a communication function that includes analysis and planning on how that brand is positioned in the market, which target public the brand is targeted at, and maintaining a desired reputation of the brand.
“Public relations (PR) is a the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public[1] Public relations may include an organization or individualgaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items.”
“Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”[1] Initially, Branding was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot iron stamp, and was subsequently used in business, marketing and advertising.”
A-hah! It seems that ARE alike! Both positions function to define a story and then communicate it to masses in order to get the product to stand out!
OK, so what does this have to do with you as an artist?

Being from Texas, I knew about branding cattle, and how important that process was to your bottom line; if you did not have a way to tell your cows from your neighbors… You might as well give up the farm, because you were sunk!
The same principle applies to today with your creations, if you cannot find a way to have yours stand out over the sea of competitors; you will be lost, without any “buyers.” It does not matter if your product is a new soda, software, fashion line, film, or yourself as a professional or artist; it is important to get your head above the clouds so people can find you.
There are a few key ways that you can set yourself and your work apart from the crowd, and they all begin with defining EXACTLY what the message of your work is, your mission, how you want to affect your audience (buyer), and what action you want them to take.
In this day and age of instant information, meta-tags, social media, and digital content, there is a plethora of tools to get the word out, everyone is doing it, and it is essential that you do it too. You must “brand” yourself so that you can differentiate yourself from the masses and be seen for your own unique story.
In my twenty some-odd years in business, what I have found to work best when defining a brand, is to focus on what is unique and to tell the truth. Now, that may seem like a given; but what I am talking about is a deeper truth, more of a transparency, or authenticity. I believe that being able to pull back the curtain on yourself and your operation is key to gaining the loyalty of your audience (buyers) in today’s market. It is key to find the real essence of what you’re doing and express that authentically.
You can hire a brand manager who knows the right questions to ask to help you clarify and define your vision, identify your uniqueness, and then communicate that authentically to the public. However, if you are like a lot of startup companies or entrepreneurs, many times you have to find a way to do it yourself. Being an entrepreneur and a creative myself, I know the importance of the DIY method.
Marketing and branding guru Kellie Koppel will share her system that easily and effectively leads individuals through the branding and promotion process in a special event teleseminar on April 3, 2013. Details here.
Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons.

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