When it comes down to it, people rarely buy what they need. They always buy what they want. Part of our job as creative entrepreneurs is to make sure that what our niche market wants is what we have to offer. The best way to convince them is by telling our story.
Over the years as I've been an artist, author and marketer, I have come to believe one thing passionately - people buy the story. I remember working as a marketing consultant for a nonprofit in Atlanta when one day a patron came to me and said, "Wow, you make this organization look so much bigger than it really is." I replied "Thanks, I'm just telling the story in the best way I know how."
The same has held true with selling fine craft. I'm a basketmaker and I've been doing that for about twenty years now off and on. When I finally got serious about pursuing my craft, I did a little research on the field and began referring to myself as a contemporary basketry artist. I also started to notice that the pieces I had always made - functional Appalachian-style baskets - were no longer selling like my other more sculptural, one-of-a-kind pieces. I could make those sculptural pieces in half the time and make twice the money. I enjoyed the process even more and so guess what I started making more of? You guessed it, sculptural, non-functional art baskets.
Another thing I noticed very soon in my basketry career was that people absolutely loved for me to tell them about how I go in the woods, harvest all the vines and bark and then bring them back to my studio for preparation and weaving. It was like the more they connected with the story of me in the woods, the more they were willing to pay for my work. So I came up with a tagline: "Every Basket Begins with a Walk in the Woods." I still get comments on that all the time from customers who just love the imagery and emotion that evokes.
So what does all this have to do with consistent branding? Everything. Branding is simply telling your story in a consistent manner. The better and more often you tell your story, the more recognizable your brand will be. That builds comfort and loyalty among your customers and potential clients, yielding a higher propensity for sales. Bottom line, if customers like you, can relate to you and believe that what you have is something they want, then it's a done deal. Our job? Don't screw it up.
Although brand consistency sounds kind of technical, it is really pretty simple if you keep it simple. (I'm sounding like Yogi Berra, but hang with me.) From your business cards, brochures, postcards, signs and posters to your booth display, website and Facebook page, everything - yes, everything needs to tell the same story - the story of you.
Craft artist Matt Tommey works full-time as a basket maker whose work is widely collected. In a former life, Matt worked in the marketing field. He has written a new book "Crafting Your Brand" to share his insights, experience and recipe for success with other artists.