Branding Is Not Selling Out: IT’S SELLING IN
Ever see an amazing band perform and wonder why you’ve never heard of them
before? Ever see an astonishing artist on the street and wonder why isn’t their work
isn’t in a gallery? Ever see an astounding independent film and wonder why people
all over the world don’t know about it?
It breaks my heart to know that there are musicians, painters, sculptors, and
filmmakers everywhere starving. Starving… for their art.
Why is a branding expert like us, who mostly deals with entrepreneurs and small
business owners, addressing musicians, artists, and filmmakers? It’s simple. Artists
are the ultimate entrepreneurs.
Think about it. Some create products and look for a market; others look at a market
and create products. Every entrepreneur starts the same way! It’s the notion of
business that often trips artists up.
Creating any piece of music, art, or film, is like creating a product. I’m not
suggesting that all products, art-based or otherwise, are equal. We all know a good
product, or painting, or film or vacuum cleaner when we experience it. Its just with
some artists, imaginary barriers get created. These illusive barriers can keep them
from creating the very success they want.
All creators have the same goals: to make a good product that is useful or
meaningful, have it well liked by many people and to be paid portionally to the
market they reach. Who doesn’t want that? Making music, paintings, sculptures,
photography or film should be addressed like any business with the same attention
to the big picture, IF you want to make a great living from it. But something often
holds artistic creators back from making a great living from their art.
As usual fear is the culprit.
Artists sometimes fear that if they develop the recognition and financial success that
comes from branding from them ‘selves’, their peers will think that they’ve ‘sold-out’
if they ‘make it’. Fellow starving artists might say that on the surface, but what they
are really saying is that they are envious of the success that you have created. It’s
far easier to put down someone else’s success than to make it them self. What’s
more important: what your peers think OR having your ‘art’ enjoyed by as many
people as possible and having the financial freedom that comes along with it?
Another fear that may prevent artists from taking their craft mainstream is that they
think that they will lose control of it by becoming a business and, heaven forbid, a
BIG business at that. Just like the art you make, what your business becomes is in
your control. If you develop your brand based on your vision of it from the start, you
protect it from becoming something else. Business is not bad – people that run
them can make bad decisions. The power of your business is always in your hands.
The largest fear for some artists is that the very nature of getting paid, and paid
well, for their art will change it. This will then set in motion the loss of creative
connection with the ‘art’ itself. I would argue that those that get lost were not very
centered on their purpose and passion in
the first place.
It’s odd to think that financial freedom, the freedom to do whatever you want, could
cause one to lose their way. In one of our workshops, we were fortunate to have a
successful artist who was ready to take his brand to the next level. When I asked
him what does he do, he answered, ‘Whatever I want.’ Who doesn’t want that?!
With the money you get from branding your craft, you can set up systems so that it
doesn’t interfere with your focus; donate to causes, invest in real estate, create
other products/partnerships. You can even hire the people to manage it all.
Leaving you free to… create.
The bottom line is simple, everyone has control over what they do and what they
manifest, it’s just that most people haven’t been shown how. Commitment to your
‘art’ does not preclude your ability to make money from it. In fact, the more
financial freedom you create for yourself, the more art you can create. A branding
mindset is taking that control into your own hands and owning the future. And it
must truly start from the inside – from your innate talent and your grand vision for
your art. Branding your art comes down to your commitment to yourself and to the
art itself. Branding is not only slogans and TV ads; it’s the power to be who you are
and communicating it to everyone proudly.
The definition of artist:
1. somebody who creates art
2. somebody who does something with great skill and creativity
3. somebody who is very good at doing something
Nowhere does it say you have to starve to make good art or good products.
Remember that the next time a musician, or painter, or sculptor, or filmmaker you
know breaks through to success. Ask yourself, what are you really committed to?
Don’t cheat the world of your gift. Developing a
brand mindset with integrity from the inside out is guaranteed to reach more
If you do something that you really love, you’re really good at it, and people pay you
to keep doing it, then branding it is not selling out, it’s selling in… to you!