This ArtMakers overview of Branding Strategy covers the following topics:-
What is a Branding Strategy?
Important branding elements
Branding Strategy Example
What is a branding strategy?
A branding strategy is a plan to reach long term goals within your business, for example, if your goal is to reach 100 sales in the first year and have an established group of buyers, then creating a branding strategy/plan will help you to focus on how to accomplish this.
A Branding strategy can help plan out crucial elements of your business, from how to present yourself on social media, to how you communicate with potential buyers, design your logo and website and even shape the materials you use to create Artwork. This is often referred to as your style. Your aim is to solve the problems, fears frustrations of your dream customer, whilst fulfilling their needs and desires
With this in mind, it is important to view a branding strategy as a living document, rather than a one-time thing. Though it certainly doesn’t need to be changed every month. In fact, this level of changecould be detrimental. However, if you find that your work is changing and appealing to a different customer or your customer is losing interest, you may need a rebrand and with this should come a new/evolved branding strategy.
In the first instance, the Persona Branding document can help identify your dream customer, along with their needs/desires, concerns, fears/frustrations and personal situation. Once you have identified these, you use this information to set out a Branding Strategy. See ArtMakers information sheet : Branding Persona for details.
It would be easy to imagine that for the most part when selling your art, that your customer’s ethos, needs, concerns, etc. would be similar to your own. However, it is good to determine this and the differences, for example, if your dream customer is quite a bit older than you, they will most likely access content and buy art differently from how you may currently sell and promote your Art. If you identify your dream customer as a fine art collector then how you conduct your business and shape your branding will possibly mean the difference between success or failure in appealing to this clientele. If your dream customer is a local holiday maker then the branding strategy will be different again.
However, don’t abandon your passion and values to reach a customer. If this happens then maybe you need to reassess your dream customer. Why build up a creative business i.e. selling your artworks, if you no longer enjoy creating it?
What if I have identified several dream Customers?
For the most part, you can make simple tweaks to your branding to cover all your dream customer needs. However, you may identify that you have several extremely different categories of dream customers. To combat this, I have known businesses to have multiple websites to appeal to different specific audiences. Let me explain some examples of this.
Example one: You identify that one of your dream customers is a wealthy collector, for this you produce one-off paintings for sale, have a professional social media presence, website, logo, sell in galleries that are aimed towards collectors. You also identify that another dream customer is a less well-off art enthusiast, so you also produce prints to allow for more accessible versions of your art. You then also sell these prints on your site.
In the first instance, you are making your work accessible to both types of customers. However, some collectors may not like the fact that you sell prints of the work. So perhaps, stop selling prints online, only sell prints in editions, or only make very small prints for example in the way of cards. Or perhaps you create a payment plan for art instead, so buyers are able to pay for the more expensive one off works over time and offer this at your own discretion. There are many options, but don’t try and compromise your branding to try to fit lots of different customers perfectly.
Example two: You create an art service that is aimed at children, so you create a fun colourful logo, use simple easy to read text, your content is bright, cheerful and fun. With this, you need to appeal to children, but you also need to appeal to their parents/guardians and/or potentially organisations that are funding your service so that children can access the service. Suddenly you have 3 quite different audiences. This is where sometimes you need to create several different branding strategies.
This is an image from Smart Insights that helps explain Branding strategy. It illustrates the different roles your branding has in selling your work.
Elements that are important to Branding Strategy
Being consistent in your branding will promote trust in your business. This is even more important as now, buying online is becoming/already a growing marketplace. Gaining trust from someone who is purchasing online is very important. Especially if you identify distrust as a concern of your dream customer.
So, by making sure your brand and content are consistent, you will lessen your customer’s concerns and they may more regularly buy work from you. A brand goes well beyond a logo or website design. It is the entire experience of buying from you, from initial contact, to how someone purchases work, to how you connect and deliver that work. If their concern is distrusting online sales sites and you promise something you don’t deliver on, then it is very unlikely you will become a default place that the buyer purchases from.
For example, if photos of your work differ from the actual work, if you offer quick delivery and delivery of the work ends up being weeks, if you brand yourself on your website as professional but use a personal account on social media platforms. All these things can undermine your business. By keeping consistent with your branding strategy, you are more likely to gain trust and make sales. If trust is a concern you may even want to look at the payment options your providing, are they secure enough to put your buyer’s mind at ease.
Your buyers aren’t always rational and quite a lot of art and craft work is bought as impulse buys. The general customer wants to buy into your passion and story, so don’t hide this from buyers. Also, make them feel like they are valued and treated as individuals rather than just another consumer. They have Amazon for that appraoch and everyone is hard pushed to compete with these massive corporations. So, make sure to utilise the personal touch, which larger corporations don’t have time for.
Think of some of the bigger brands. OK, they may have the cash to change their branding, but quite often they are too big to change quickly enough, they are not flexible. This includes refreshing your artworks on display/offer regularly.
I know I have mentioned you need to have consistency but this refers to consistently delivering your business on brand so that your dream customers feel they can trust your vision and integrity. Being flexible, allows you to keep up to date with how your dream customer may change and how they buy or access your art. Don’t become rigid in how you conduct business, keep your ears to the ground and notice if sales start dropping off and how you can effectively develop your branding strategy to keep sales consistent.
So, you have built up a good customer base, but you are eager to grow this further. Although you need to grow, you also need to nurture your current customer base. Do not forget about them! These are people who have spent their hard-earned money on buying your work or service and often when someone buys art or craft this is purchased out of an emotional connection.
Personalised letters, an added gift, discount on the next purchase, this is what will distinguish you from your competition. It doesn’t need to break the bank balance, a simple e-card or thank you note can work wonders.
If you have a team or even outsource your digital content to a marketing company, a branding strategy is crucial in making sure all involved understand your vision, your voice and ultimately your brand. This can so easily go very wrong and instead of engaging customers, can alienate them from you and your work.
If your team, an art collective, is an important part of your brand, then make sure each voice is recognised as an individual whilst they follow the main branding style. For example, on Facebook you may have several team members that write posts, if identifying their individuality is important, then have them sign off with their name, or introduce themselves at the beginning of the post. But the main important thing is that they understand the overall brand and their individuality isn’t causing inconsistency within your brand.
Follow and learn from businesses/people that inspire you.
When you want to reach a goal, a good way of learning the steps is to surround yourself with people who are where you aspire to be. Instagram is great for this, but it is also worth visiting their website, figuring out if they sell on their website or are only selling through galleries? What tone of writing do they use on their website? How are their website and logo designed?
Branding Strategy Example
Business – Fashion business
• To create hardwearing products
• Slow fashion – ethical
• Bright and vibrant designs
• Fresh ideas and styles
• Independent Brand
• Ethical but made well
• Original designs
• New designs every year
To sell 1000 items of clothing in your first year and to build a following of 2000 people on social media.
By year 2 increased sales to 4000 per year and a following of 10000 people on social media.
By year 5 sales are at 10000 items per year with a following for 40000
Dream Customer –
• Gender – Female
• Age – Age 24
• Income – £15000-£ 20000
• Socio-economic group – Working class
• Attitude – Wants to be different and fashion-forward, happy to save up rather than buy cheap.
• Likes – New designs and bright colour, ethical and eco-minded.
• Hates – Mass produced fashion, unethical, Fast fashion.
• Name – Gen
• New clothing items
• To make a statement
• To promote ethical products by wearing them
• To feel a part of a positive global movement
• Not finding clothes she likes that are ethical
• Quality of product
• Authenticity and brands being transparent and telling the truth
• Trying to make the right decisions in what she purchases.
• Lack of Time so mainly shops online
• Quality of fit
• Online bank fraud
• Working full time
• Engages in backing eco companies through purchases.
• Is aware of the corruption of fast fashion
Branding in Practice
How do you make your business appeal to someone like Gen?
• You keep authentic to your vision, meaning that you research and make sure that your products are of quality and are ethically sourced.
• You continue to provide new designs each year, which have their own identity. Perhaps you decide to produce just one or a couple of types of clothing but have a bigger range of patterns and colour per item to promote more sales.
• You choose a sales Website instead of a shop. This keeps costs low whilst making your fashion easy and quick to purchase.
• You know imagery is important and you also make sure to photograph your fashion on people who are relatable.
• You have pages on your website that go into more detail about your story
and the ethical background of your fashion.
• Your Logo is original and one-off, not a standard bought logo off a logo
• Website is easy to use and easy to pay via a secure system, such as PayPal or Stripe.
• The clothes are easily found and filtered on website to save on time.
• Your main target audience is on Instagram; this is where you focus your promotion.
• Clothing items are reasonably priced for their quality and ethical nature.
• You have sales to engage customers with less money. This way more people can access, but the worth of the product isn’t questioned. Also, the customer gets a happy feeling that they have got a deal.
• You make returning items super easy, perhaps you even cover the return postage.
• You have clear body and clothing measuring guidelines.
• Contact details and frequently asked questions are clear on your wbsite, so that customers feel supported.
• The item will arrive to the customer beautifully wrapped with a label telling you who wrapped your item.
• You use eco-friendly packaging.
• You have a regular newsletter to keep customers up to date with your business and fashion.
• You make it easy on your website for customers to sign up to your
- You follow up a purchase with an email asking for a review and perhaps even offering a discount attached to the review.
• Maybe you have a membership sign up, which gives members offers and discounts off purchases.
• During membership sign up, you gather birthday date and send a special
offer via email on their birthday.
• You write PR and contact ethical fashion publications to get a feature.
Because you have something to say, and you are a part of a global
The list goes on, you can see that a branding strategy needs to account for all aspects of your business, from how you communicate, to how you package your work It has to be consistent with your vision and values.
So, if you identified Gen as your dream customer but you realised that your website was difficult to use, you had high-end prices with no sales, you only photograph your clothes on models and you send your products in unrecyclable plastic packaging. You may want to reconsider your brand or perhaps your customer.
A marketing cycle can be followed to help with making decisions around your branding strategy.
Below is an example of a marketing cycle.
You start with your values, those things which are important to you and are expressed in your art, You then identify what makes your work different from others. This could be anything from your own personal history, your method of working, where you work, through to use of colour and materials or style.
Then you look at the people who you want to buy your work – your audience. Identify where you will reach them and how e.g. via facebook, online gallery, local events. Then create the sort of message or activities which you think will attract them to your work, Include your principles, and USP, in your messages.
Put your messages out there to your audience.
Once this part is complete you need to see how successful each message or event has been and modify your approach accordingly.
This obviously takes time, and effort, and is why many artists and makers leave most of this to galleries, or marketing companies/agents. However, your work and how you present yourself within a gallery and how you want to be marketed by an agency or agent is still down to you, your values, your USP, and the principles by which you want to work, and sell your art.
I hope this has been useful for more information on Marketing see or Guidance for Using Socila Medai and Selling Online information sheets.
Branding Strategy Detailed Overview