This is not a post about how to build your brand. If you are looking for a quick guide to branding, look elsewhere. There are professionals out there who can help you do this a whole lot more effectively than me. But be warned, if you are new to selling, there are no quick fixes. Branding is a journey. When I work with artists, this is the part I pray they have done already, because it makes my job loads easier, and I literally cannot do it for them. I can interpret their brand for my store, but I can’t give them their identity. If you have a clear idea of who you are and what your company does, it makes it a million times easier to sell your work.
This is why you need things like the following:
- a mission statement
- a vision statement
- a logo
- business cards with your logo on it
- any pertinent labeling for your product that is consistent with your logo and business cards
- a website
- social media accounts that reach the right demographics and a plan for how to reach them
- and most importantly consistent presentation across all of these
An example of branding: instantly recognizable and consistent photography
Full disclosure, to me, this is the scariest part of starting a business. This is the step that takes a lot of reflection and introspection. It takes work. Real work. It is the opposite of doing all that fun creating, but deciding how you represent what you create is just as important as creating it. And yet, this interpretation is also the part that is most often skipped or half-assed. My best guess at why artists-as-entrepreneurs, myself included, have difficulty with this step is because it can be really, really scary.
If building your business were a story, this would be the part where the hero has to confront his demons before he can go on to be victorious. That is how scary I find it. It is like Harry Potter going into the Forbidden Forest to give himself over to Voldemort scary.
Why do I find this so scary? Because I’ve read a ton of those business branding guides. I’ve got notebooks full of notes on who I think I am and what Tiny Dino Studios could be. What I have never once seen is someone deal with the emotional side of what these guides ask you to do. They ask you to knock down all of your protective barriers. They want you to demolish the walls you’ve built around yourself, take a step back, and examine your true self. They might ask you in ways that don’t feel so navel-gazey, but for each exercise they give, they are looking for an authentic answer. No perfunctory words will do.
You are not going to be good at branding unless you are 100% honest with yourself about what you want your business to be. And if you don’t like yourself, if you are afraid of what you’ll find if you lower defenses, confronting that can be the scariest thing in the world.
It takes guts to fill out one of those brand building guides and mean every word of it. It most likely won’t be quick, and a lot of it probably won’t be fun. Don’t let fear hold you back from tackling this. Just like any business, if you put in the hard work now, it makes your life easier in the long run. Developing your brand is like a good workout, getting up the motivation might be difficult, and the work is hard while you’re in it, but the way you feel stronger afterward is worth it.
It’s OK to wrestle with yourself. It’s OK to not like yourself very much or feel inadequate or scared. It’s OK to ask for help. What’s not OK is giving up before you’ve even started. No one can do this for you. They can guide you. They can coach you, but in the end, it’s just you and Voldemort.
If it feels like too much, check out my blog and business tips pinterest board. It’s full of people who break marketing and business planning down step-by-step. I’ve also found that just because the advice is for writers or bloggers or etsy sellers, doesn’t mean it won’t be compatible with your business.
Have fun. Grow. Sell!