Written by Becca Edwards and Sarah Yoon
You’re familiar with Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Nike—as soon as you hear each name, your mind conjures an image, feeling, taste, or smell. You remember good times with friends, gathering for a barbecue, curled in a warm cafe, or running on the trail. Their advertising campaigns have carefully created associations for you. You watch their advertisements, recognize their logos, and consume their products. They’re unmistakable. If you follow their lead, you can leave a mark just as big.
When you think over each company you may wonder, what does this have to do with me? I’m not in retail for a reason, you think. I’m not in sales either–I’m an artist for Pete’s sake! But don’t write them off so quickly. All artists need to market themselves. If you want to succeed as an individual and a freelancer, you need to create your own personal brand.
Think of Peyton Manning, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kim Kardashian, Steve Jobs, Miley Cyrus, Mother Theresa—the list can go on and on. Each individual’s name provokes a reaction. So how did they create the idea you have in your head?
Branding combines two key elements
When approaching branding, you may think that it means selling out or becoming part of the herd. But it’s quite the opposite. To create a personal brand, you’re simply communicating what you do and who you are. You craft experiences, whether they’re through music, writing, drawing, etc. All you need to do is communicate that value and build an audience. The only trick is planning and the execution, so ask yourself some questions:
- Who do you want to be known as?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What do you not want to be known for?
- What are five words you want people to say when they hear your name?
- What values are important to you?
Each of these questions is designed to dig deeper into who you are and what you offer. Your art, though you may be loath to describe it as a product, is both self-expression and self-support. And if you want financial stability, you can’t take these questions lightly. They aren’t just about some impersonal brand. How you answer these questions will impact how people know you and whether they want to share your vision.
Our Advice: You will never be Warhol or Whedon. All that’s needed is the real you, because even the “anonymous masses” crave genuine human connection. Before you jump to the next chapter of this journey, take a deep breath. The realm of self-promotion can be tricky; read on with “Forget the Alias! Make your Brand Authentic.”