What is Personal Branding?

How to create a branding/vision statement for your work.

I've spoken with several musicians and artists about this: Not many people like to think of themselves as a "brand." And you know what? I don't really blame them. The term "brand" seems so corporate and contrived, and art is all about personal expression, emotion, vulnerability. But what branding is all about is actually more emotional than anything--a brand is nothing more than the feeling your customer gets when they think about your product. Your goal when branding yourself is to make sure they think about the right things.

Your photos should convey your brand's personality.

Your photos should convey your brand's personality.

PERSONAL BRANDING

Even if you're a solo artist, you should think about your professional and personal brand. Your personal brand comes out when you communicate with your audience, whether it's through social media, your blog, or the captions on your products in your Etsy store. Maintaining a consistent tone of voice, staying true to your core values, and keeping track of your long-term goals are all results of figuring out your personal brand. Have you ever heard of an elevator speech? Essentially, an elevator speech is the Vision Statement you can give someone in 30 seconds or less about your creative project. Your Statement of Purpose is like a shorter version of your Vision Statement. You are building a reputation through word choice, tone, and description. Want to try one out? Download the exercise here.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP BRAND ATTRIBUTES?

When people think of your brand, you should want them to think of a few main concepts and ideas. Your brand attributes should be adjectives and ideas that describe you and what you want your creative project to represent. Make it authentic and real. Make it something that represents you, because that is what is going to make your project unique. There is no one else like you! If your brand is truly representative of you, then you have no competition.
 
Ask yourself: What is my authenticity?

If you are being truly authentic, then you have no competition.

If you are being truly authentic, then you have no competition.

COMPLETE A SWOT ANALYSIS

One terrific way to take a good, hard look at the way you represent your brand is to complete a SWOT analysis. You can complete one by downloading our PDF here.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By reflecting on all four of these traits for your project or company, you can gather a more objective look at how you stand in the midst of a saturated market. What makes you unique? Those are your strengths. What are areas that you compete too closely with others, and maybe don't come out as the winner? Those are your weaknesses. Your opportunities are areas you haven't yet pursued but that could be excellent future goals. Threats are all those things that could go wrong in the future--sort of like a "devil's advocate" for your business. I recommend you follow the link above to guide you through this enlightening exercise.

Keep one eye on your work, and one on the market.

I hope these three exercises gave you some insight into creating a personal brand for your creative project. Above all, you should remember to be authentic, consistent, and aware. You have a story to tell.

What is it about the word “branding” that you think deters some creative people?
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Meg Kuhar

An endlessly curious creator, Meg can usually be found making something, whether it’s a website, music, or a crochet project. She is the first Assistant Professor of Music Technology at Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music, and lives in Cleveland Heights with her husband Nick, and their handful of a dog Petunia.