As a freelance artist or designer, you've probably asked yourself what you need to do to "make it". As annoying as it sounds, giving yourself a strong personal brand can go a long way in boosting your career as a freelancer.
In this article, you’ll learn what personal branding is, why you need to brand yourself as a freelance artist or designer, and the steps you can take to create a personal brand for yourself. We've also thrown in some examples of artists and designers with great branding that will get the creative inspiration flowing.
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal branding is the development and maintenance of your reputation and public perception as an individual. Personal branding is a continuous, never-ending process. Just think of Madonna, she never stops.
Someone with a strong personal brand makes themself memorable, and stand out from other peers in their specialist area. It's a way of getting specific about your style, tone or aesthetic, in a way that would make someone think of you if they needed to commission someone who creates incredible portraiture, for example, or were looking for a designer who's brilliant at lettering.
Why do you need to have a personal brand if you're a freelance designer or artist?
Look, there are a whole heap of reasons that it's helpful to have a strong personal brand. It's a bit weird to say 'brand yourself', but that's essentially what you're going to have to do, because personal branding:
- Positions you as an authority in your industry
- Elevates your credibility
- Differentiates you from the competition
- Increases your circle of influence
- Lets you have a larger impact
So it's worth making the effort to consider what makes you different, and to think about which skills and talents you want to really make the most of. But how the heck do you even start to think of how to approach this? Glad you asked.
7 steps you can take to create your personal brand as a freelance designer or artist
1. Find brands you admire and study them
Check out your favorite artists and designers and take a closer look at the way they portray themselves and their craft to the public. Take note of the things about their brand that attract you to them. Do they have a logo, a tagline, a color palette? Does everything they feature talk to a certain genre, mood or style? Also, take note of the things that need improvement. These observations will serve as insights for you as you build your brand.
2. Figure out what makes you unique
A strong personal brand stands out among the crowd. To stand out as an artist or designer, you need to decide what you want to be known for. You need to identify and define the uniqueness you bring to the table - what do you do that your peers don't? What skills do you have that are better than others?
As much as you should have role models or people you look up to in the industry, you shouldn't mold your brand to look exactly like theirs. Learn what you need to learn from them, but don't be drowned by their personality. Develop your unique personality and project it.
3. Define your core values
Remember the popular saying that "if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything"? To build your brand, you need to define your core values. What do you want your brand to stand for? For example, the famous Louise Fili brand is known for elegance and quality. Likewise, you also have to decide what you want your brand to be known for.
4. Understand your target audience
If you're going to have an outstanding brand as a designer or artist, you need to figure out who you're trying to appeal to. Start by making a list of people you would like to attract with your brand. Take note of their needs, wants, values, desires, ambitions, and aspirations. Pen down their demography; their age, location, income, etc. These actions will help you position yourself to appeal to them.
5. Find the right channels
Where do you want to address and grow your audience? Where is your target audience located? These are questions you should answer when finding the right channels or media for your brand. Does your audience listen to podcasts? Are they mainly on social media? If so, which of the social media platforms? The answers to these questions will help you find the right channels to build your brand. A good trick here is to start with one or two so that you don't get overwhelmed. With time, you can then add other channels or media.
6. Strategize on content
A great brand depends on a good content strategy. Your content is your currency. After identifying the right channel(s) for your brand, you need to strategize on how and when would publish your work, knowledge, core values, insights, and lifestyle (if necessary) to your audience. Wht are you posting, and why? What do you want the reaction or action to be once you've posted?
7. Be consistent
This is an absolute must if you want to build a great brand. Your brand components must be uniform on all platforms. Just as we identify our favorite brands by their colors, logos, slogans, etc., your audience should be able to instantly identify your brand. Also, showing up regularly is a big part of the deal. When you put out good brand content, your audience begins to look forward to them. When you’re inconsistent, you disappoint them and break their trust. Therefore, consistency is one attribute you need to create a great brand.
3 examples of designers and artists with great branding
To give you some inspiration, here are three examples of designers and artists with great branding.
1. Lauren Hom
Lauren Hom is a designer, hand-lettering artist, and illustrator. Based in Southern California, Lauren is famous for her typography and hand-drawn doodles. Her brand’s core values are neat and quirky. She stays consistent with this as every work she has done reflects these values. At a glance, her fans know her work because they stand out. With over 235,000 followers on Instagram, Lauren’s clients include Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Youtube, and Starbucks.
Lauren’s home page is cheerful and includes hand lettering examples straight away. Visitors instantly catch a vibe.
2. David Schwen
David Schwen is known for his eye-catching animation and mold-like designs. With over 142,000 followers on Instagram, this Brooklyn-based artist loves to use bold colors and infuses his art with a great sense of humor.
One glance at David’s home page, and you could see the bold statement he makes with the colors and fonts. It's instantly evident that he won't shy away from being forward, and his work will be arresting.
3. Sam Larson
Sam Larson is another designer that has great branding. Sam is a freelance graphic and brand designer whose niche is nature-inspired designs. He has over 428,000 followers on Instagram. He says his work is inspired by the American West, road trips, and pizza.
The font and color choices, alongside the backdrop of nature and the tagline, instantly position Sam's work as earthy and woodsy. Again, this immediately hints at his work style.
Creating a personal brand as a designer or artist is not as difficult as it sounds, right? With the right steps and the right inspiration, you too can build an enviable brand and reap all the benefits of good branding. What would be your first step towards creating a personal brand for yourself? We would like to know!
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