Artist branding: A how-to guide on growing your reach

Cultivating a brand takes a lot of hard work. It requires creativity and strategy to build something memorable that resonates with your ideal customer or client. That’s the case no matter what or who you’re branding — artists included. 

Whether you’re a musician, a documentarian, a painter, or a puppeteer, artist branding can showcase what makes you and your work different from other artists of similar crafts or styles. Thankfully, artists tend to be incredible storytellers, and storytelling is the very essence of marketing. Let’s uncover how you can grow your reach as an artist through well-planned and carefully considered artist branding.

What is branding for artists?

When it comes to selling a product or service, branding is the identity behind the commodity. It’s the image, the identity, the name, the story, and the set of values associated with a product. It’s about the emotions your brand evokes when someone thinks about or interacts with your business. Everything from the visual logo for artists to the style guide to the typeface and even the tone invoked in the marketing copy are tools used to separate a brand from the competition. 

Branding for artists is essentially the same thing as branding for any kind of product or service. The difference is instead of selling a product on a shelf, you’re selling art, which can be less tangible. An artist might be a painter selling paintings, or an artist could perform spoken word poetry — an experience that you can’t hold in your hands, although it is still valuable! 

An artist’s brand can serve two distinct purposes. The first is identifying them in a way that helps them distinguish their approach, personality, and the art itself from others who may do something similar. This is their so-called personal brand. The second is for marketing purposes, to help them sell their works to interested collectors. While marketing and sales may not be a priority to many artists, they understand that there’s a place in which these two parts of themselves — the artist, and selling their art — coexist. Artist branding plays a key part in that. A brand built on the authenticity of the artist’s voice will come across as genuine, an important quality to convey to buyers interested in bringing home or experiencing a deeply moving work of art.

The three Es of branding strategies

Breaking down branding into the three Es helps to ground the artist branding process. Through exploring Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Experience, we’ll unpack the role each plays in branding for an artist. 

  • Efficiency. Efficiency is all about “doing the thing right.” In any business, you work to maximize output without overextending your own resources, whether that’s financial or creative energy. As an artist, you might not be working with a big budget, but your product creation could involve a lot of time. However, you can still utilize this principle in branding by using an easy website builder like Namecheap’s to save time and money when developing a website to promote your work. That way, you can stay on budget while staying focused on your art.
  • Effectiveness. While efficiency is about “doing the thing right,” effectiveness is about “doing the right thing.” A brand is only as strong as its execution — and as a brand, you want to deliver a product of value to your customer. Your impact on others is a vital part of your work as an artist, so ensuring your brand has the intended effect on potential clients and the art world is of the essence.
  • Experience. How the world responds to a brand is directly tied to the experience that the brand creates. Because it involves creativity and originality, the experience element of branding is where an artist can really shine. It’s the chance to ask yourself: What experience can I give an audience with my work? How do I present my work in a way that maximizes its potential and reach? Art is an experience, but like any experience, it needs the right context and audience to be effective. In this way, you can think of branding as an extension of your identity as an artist. 

How can artist branding help you?

If you make your living in a creative medium, artist branding can help you launch a meaningful career in the arts. Let’s explore a branding example to give you a better idea of the thinking behind a brand strategy for artists. 

Example: For the sake of this example, imagine that you’re a musician with an upcoming concert. You have a venue booked and tickets to sell. You’re an indie singer-songwriter, and you play a few instruments — mainly acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, these talents are a dime a dozen, so you draw upon your artist branding to craft a unique experience for concertgoers. What is it about your persona that you can draw upon to make an interesting show that’s not “just” a concert while remaining authentic to who you are as an artist? In this example, you’re known for your interest in the plays of the Bard, Shakespeare. Let’s see how you can use that in your branding. 

How artist branding helps:  Now, artist branding is an umbrella term, and branding for musicians won’t be the same as branding for painters trying to sell framed paintings online. With that in mind, where should we begin when the “item” for sale is an experience? As we’ve already established, experience is the third E in branding, but how do you take an experience and make it different? Look at the market — there are a lot of musicians out there, so what makes you interesting? What genre of music do you sing? Do you write your songs? Do you play any instruments? Do you offer something unusual or exciting that attendees will want to witness, like a show-stopping dance performance? You’re selling an ineffable experience. 

hard rock cafe logo
Photo by Tamara Gore on Unsplash

Since you’re known for incorporating Shakespeare’s influences into your songs, you may want to team up with some talented actors who can perform in between your sets. When you perform, the actors move around you, conveying the song’s emotions through dramatized facial expressions and gestures. You can tease this one-of-a-kind performance through posts on social media, behind-the-scenes content on your website, and an email newsletter featuring your logo and embedded videos. That’s how you brand it: by reproducing the experience to others. Think about the best place for your brand, too: You may want to partner up with a niche online Shakespeare-loving Bardolatry community to promote the concert to their audience as well. No matter which direction you take it, the most important thing is to make sure each element feels authentic to your voice as an artist.

The role of social media in artist branding

photo gallery in a phone
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

As an artist, social media marketing and advertising are crucial because they offer a chance to reach the people that you normally couldn’t network with in real life. Instead of being limited to a single gallery, venue, or artisan store carrying your wares, your reach can now potentially be the entire globe. With more than 4 billion people on social media every day, an artist’s reach is larger than it’s ever been.

Through social media, you have a chance to create a community, find opportunities for collaboration, and engage with folks in new ways. Social media also opens up the door for meaningful communication with fans of your art, further building your reputation with each positive interaction. Plus, platforms that prioritize photo and video, like Instagram, are the perfect medium to distribute clips of you reciting your latest poem or sharing your newest doodle. In fact, artists can even be discovered on social media, turning these platforms from marketing channels into game-changing, and even life-changing, tools.

The final act: Building your artist brand

Just like any effective brand, artists need the right tools to get where they need to be. Take advantage of an easy website builder to create a digital portfolio of your work, provide a place for interested parties to send inquiries, and establish your presence online — including a hub for your social media credentials. Brand identity-building tools like Namecheap’s Visual can also help in this regard, offering easy logo makers, business card makers, and more to help artists develop their brand both online and in person. 


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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