How to Brand Yourself: Personal Branding and Your Visual Identity

Many moons ago, I studied business.  I was one of those creative late bloomers.  I remember thinking, where would I be now if I had studied fashion design and upholstery sooner?

Then it dawned on me.  If I hadn’t started out with that business degree and if I hadn’t fumbled my way through creating a strong visual identity as an artist, I wouldn’t be the published brand that I am today!  On that day, I said hurrah for my late blooming and cheers for taking the time to establish a brand identity.  I have felt very thankful for having an understanding of basic business principles, marketing principles, and a solid understanding of the importance of personal branding.  If that was the only thing I took out of business school, then it paid off ten fold!  

The question for you is, what is YOUR personal brand and how is it communicated with your visual identity? 

Personal branding from the ground up, starting with craft shows.

Here’s a simple example.  I have done just about every arts and craft show under the sun.  In those days, I always shared a booth with a friend of mine whom also redesigned furniture.  Her work is beautiful!  Our design aesthetics were quite different, but very complimentary. That diversity suited us well for drawing big crowds at the craft shows.  It seemed as though even though we created the same type of product, we were getting very different results in terms of recognition at the shows.  People started recognizing my work from magazines and the local newspaper.  I often wondered, why wasn’t my extremely talented friend also in the newspaper?  She was a superstar! I honestly think the only reason is that people didn’t know how to find her and probably didn't even know what her company name was. Your visual identity and personal branding go hand-in-hand. 

This pays off, trust me!

Media exposure boosts personal branding

How to build a personal brand and have people take you seriously

Every time we worked a craft show together, she would say the same things, all relating back to personal branding.  I really need to get a website together, I really need to create some business cards, and I really need to open a shop, etc.  My answer to her was…"Girl you need to build your personal brand!  That website you’ve been putting off, and those business cards you can’t hand out today are absolutely crucial to the visual identity of your brand.  How are customers supposed to find you after the show, if you don’t have a web presence?  How are they supposed to follow your events and see your new designs when it’s not craft show season? A visual identity is critical for personal branding." 

Each summer we sat at the same craft booths.  At every show, I showcased my visual identity. I made postcards; handed out business cards; made my website better; and used hang tags on all my furniture.  My website domain was my company name, vintagerenewal.com; my email was my first name @ my company name, jeanne@vintagerenewal.com; my logo had my company name worked into the design; my business card had my logo on it; my hang tags had my logo on it.  I always had a sign up for my mailing list.  See a personal branding strategy forming here?  I was always thinking about my visual identity and the big picture. 

Hang tags for personal branding

Personal branding with business cards and postcards

The result?

What happened?  People would return to the craft show and point to my hang tags -- my visual identity -- even before the piece of furniture that it was on.  I’d hear them say “I bought something from them last year."  People started following my website all year long.  They told me my magnetic business card was hanging on their fridge at home and it reminded them to check my site often.  I stayed at the top of their mind through personal branding.  I built a mailing list with a simple book before my website was fancy enough to capture it online.  People came back to see what I was up to year after year.   I was building my brand locally.  My website was building it internationally.  Don’t do one without they other.  They are best friends, I promise you!  

In a nutshell, that is the basic idea of “personal branding for crafters” my friends.  Begin building your brand identity by consistently referring to your company’s name, your logo, your website, using those business cards and referring people back to that beautiful website so they can buy something from you and you can make a living doing this. Put your visual identity out there so your audience starts making those connections and your brand becomes more recognizable.

 

Logos and banners for visual identity

 

Affordable web designdoes it exist?

Do you have a beautiful website?  You absolutely should; it's imperative for personal branding.  It doesn’t have to come at the price that my first few did and they were horrible!  Indiemade offers affordable web design that allows artists to create a visual identity without spending a fortune.  Take a free trial and see for yourself.

http://www.indiemade.com/signup/pro

When I found Indiemade, it was love at first site for me.  I mentioned earlier that my website improved with each summer craft show, but it absolutely peaked to perfection when I found Indiemade's affordable web design options.  Everything you could ever need to establish a visual identity online as an artist, a crafter or a designer can be found on Indiemade.com.  Trust me, it’s a gem!

What does that mean for your personal brand and how it’s being communicated with your visual identity? 

Personal branding with a website that communicates your visual identity 

  • The first thing people should notice is a well-designed banner with your logo introducing them to your page.
  • Take some time to create a well-written "About" page.  Let your potential clients connect with you personally. 
  • Show examples of your past working using Indiemade galleries.
  • Have a store set-up where people can buy your wares.
  • Take advantage of Indiemade's built-in tag word fields in order to further drive traffic to your site.  Reinforce your brand identity with product-related keywords, and carry those terms over to social media with hashtags. 
  • Go through the Indiemade Handbook, Blog and Resource Library to learn more about creating the most professional site that your brand can have.  The best part is you can do all of this fancy designing by yourself. 
  • Be consistent with color and style throughout your website as it relates to your product and brand image.
  • Develop your own signature writing style in your blog.
  • Make sure people know how to get in touch with you on a contact page.
  • Link back to all of your social media profiles from your website.  Make your visual identity consistent across those profiles, as well. 

Back up your visual identity with a press page

In the end, you will probably need to create a “Press” page because your personal branding efforts have paid off and you're being talked about around the world!  Luckily, you can do that with Indiemade too. Social proof is incredibly powerful in personal branding -- when news outlets are covering your business or highlighting your products, you'll attract even more attention. 

Blogging your way to the top.  Become one with your brand identity.

Your brand's personality dictates the way your brand speaks, behaves, thinks, acts and reacts.  What better way to do that than through your own blog?  This is an opportunity for you to become one with your brand identity.  Believe it or not, you actually are your brand!  That's why they call it personal branding. The sooner that you adopt that philosophy, the sooner you will develop your personal brand and gain a following for more than just what you create.  People want to connect to the artist and designer, they want the product to tell a story.  Who better to do that than you? 

When you start communicating your brand’s personality and story, please don’t stop at just your website.  You need to be thinking big picture here.  Your entire social media package should communicate your brand personality.  Each social media platform is an opportunity to consistently build your brand’s visual identity, along with your brand personality.  It’s time to captivate an audience unique to your craft!  Be sure to link all of those social media profiles right back to your Indiemade website.  If you are selling your designs on your Indiemade website, shouldn’t it be your goal to get some of that social media traffic right back to your website? 

I think so!  A strong brand will inspire people.  It will change how they think, how they feel and how they act.  Become a brand that inspires!  Tackle your business like a professional using the gusto of your creative spirit.   

Good luck creative friends!  It doesn’t take much to begin building a brand identity.  You must continue to communicate your brand’s visual identity and use all the free resources available to do it.  Keep making your website better; keep on top of new social media platforms; keep people excited about what you are doing. Most importantly, have some fun with the personal branding process!  You are your brand after all.  Enjoy!  

Until the next time…

xoxox

Jeanne Connolly

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