Branding Is Not Selling Out: ITS 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 isnšt in a gallery?  Ever see an astounding independent film and wonder why people all over the world don't know about it?

Me too!

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 me, 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 people.  Period.

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!

Written by Kim Castle, the Co-founder of BrandU? - the home of only step-by- step process for developing your business as a brand from the inside out!

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