When a customer purchases a product with your name, logo or image, what can they consistently expect from you and your product? When my customer sees my name – Michele Wells – they can expect a product that is designed by an artist who believes in the essential need for purpose. Everything I produce is informed by my unique experience and embodies my core standards: excellence, innovation, spirit-led, non-traditional and timely. This is my brand. These aren’t contrived ideas of who I am. These standards were developed throughout my artist career. They are a part of my artistry.
My brand is my truth and I believe that the purpose of the personal artist brand is to communicate three things: purpose, identity and standards. Put differently, your brand is why you are, who you are and how you are.
As we grow and evolve, we refine our brand. Thus, your artist brand is something you aspire to become. As the writers of Designing Brand Identity tell us,
“Brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.” Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team)
The work of branding is ongoing and it requires a lot of attention to detail but the effort to define your brand will go a long way. Here are three things that define the foundation of your personal artist brand.
Your background, experience and identity are the core of your brand.
Your brand offers your audience an understanding 0f who you are and what you consistently bring to your work. Therefore, your brand begins with your background and personal experience.
Background Your background includes your family, place of birth, your demographic details. These are things that impacted your life but that you didn’t choose.
Experience Experiences are important and shape our perspectives and character. Reflect on your education, work, travel, and relationships.
Identity: When you understand your background and experience you can begin to understand your identity. Your identity is the way that you respond to your background and experience. Have you overcome any major obstacles? These are important because they tell people what has given you the tenacity to excel no matter what.
Finally, when you know your identity then you can define your style. Your style includes your unique approach to your craft, the colors you use, the sound of your voice, the lexicon in your poems, the feeling people get when you enter a room. Style is the essence of you.
Style & Interests Your artistic style are an expression of your artistic identity because they how you do what you do. This is what distinguishes you.
The more you embrace your identity the stronger your brand becomes.
After you understand, you embrace. To embrace means that you know, accept and communicate your distinct identity through storytelling. The most beautiful art can be born from desperately sad situations. When you boldly tell your story, it shows others that your experiences have made you stronger and better as a creator. It also tells them that they can do it too.
Embrace can mean accepting past pain, loss and difficulty in order to express it artistically. The powerful work that you will create, the work that the world needs to see, is tied up in your ability to embrace your personal identity, experiences and background. So, your ability to accept who you are, what you have been through and share it with the world, is connected to the strength of your brand. The more you embrace your identity the stronger your brand becomes.
Brand for an artist is a lifestyle, practiced daily. In becoming, your brand becomes a lifestyle, the embodiment of your standards.
When your personal artist brand is rooted in the foundation of your background, experiences and identity you will grow a strong foundation. The more you embrace you, the more you will continue to build on your brand. Embrace leads to practice and by practicing it, you are becoming it. Ultimately, for your followers to accept your brand they must see and believe that you are your brand.
Your brand is not just your past: it is what you do, how you do it and the way people feel when it is done. To become means that you acknowledge that you must continue to be impacted by your background, experience and identity and it means that you constantly aspire to improve yourself and your work according to the values you have set forth.
A strong brand means that you constantly aspire to understand the depths of who you are, with an ever increasing ability to embrace yourself. This artistic integrity will lead others to see you as an artist with standards that come from within. To become means that you understand your brand as a practice, as a part of your method of creation. In becoming, your brand becomes a lifestyle, the embodiment of your standards.