You might think none of this business stuff really applies to you unless it directly means you’re getting a customer. You’re an artist, not a “real” business. Right?
Obviously you know I’m going to say, “Wrong.” Very very wrong.
Customers think like customers, no matter what they’re buying. Sure, there are nuances for high-priced items and low-priced items and items that are seen as necessary (like milk) versus items that are seen as a luxury (a pretty new dress even though you have a full closet)… but they’re still buying stuff. Or not buying – whomp whomp.
And customers aren’t going to buy if you don’t have a brand.
This is when you might be thinking, “Oh this post totally doesn’t apply to me. My art has such a particular style that I don’t need to think about branding. My art speaks for itself.”
To a certain extent, you’re right. But there’s a balance. You have to have some branding – consistent fonts and accent colors on your website, a general “voice” throughout your copy, a feel to your promotional images (like your headshot, a website banner, an ad image you use for paid ads, etc).
While you don’t have to beat the brand into your customers’ heads (ala Kelly Rae Roberts), even a clean site needs to have a little branding (ala Amy Sia‘s large name at the top of her site and the big feature images on the homepage). Without it, the site feels dull and unprofessional. There’s just something missing.
Your art should be the main focus. But that doesn’t mean nothing else exists.
Why does branding help your customers feel comfortable buying?
They will view you as more professional – as a real business. The businesses they normally interact with all have brands, and strong brands at that. You are going to be perceived as more professional and more trustworthy if you know what your business is and what it stands for and can communicate that through your visuals and your copy.
Branding also helps potential customers identify with you. Because they know who you are, they know quickly whether you’re right for them. And your business will feel more human to them. It means less time trying to convince the wrong people to buy your art (they’re never going to buy anyway, you’re just wasting time) and more connection with those potential customers so you can make the sale faster.
An added benefit is that your customers can talk you up to other people.
When you are clear about who and what your business is, and how your business views the world, customers are better able to share you. It’s really hard to sell someone about Jennifer the painter if she sometimes paints bright and colorful, sometimes abstract, sometimes really dark, and sometimes kid’s art. She’s too many things for a fan or customer to be able to talk her up to another potential customer. But if a customer can tell their friend, “Jennifer paints portraits that are crazy realistic! I had her paint my daughter and it looks like a photograph! You should get her to paint your husband for his 50th birthday. Wouldn’t that be a great present?” it’s going to net Jennifer a lot more referrals, right? Because the customer knows who Jennifer is and how to tell others about her.
Without the information a brand subtly provides, your potential customers can’t figure out whether you’re safe to buy from, whether they like you, and whether they want the art you’re selling. So, in the end, a strong brand just gives your customers enough information to decide whether to buy from you.
If you need a little boost in the branding department, try picking up a copy of Artistic, Mindful Branding over here. It’ll help you get clear on the elements that go into your brand, including your personality and values as well as what your customers come to you for.