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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Licensing: Brand Building with Marketing That Really Counts!

This must read article by marketing expert Linda Mariano discusses why each person is a brand and lists ten key points necessary to market a brand. With a career that spans 30 years, Linda is a leader in marketing, brand management, e-commerce and promotion initiatives. Read Linda's profile for a description of her skills in driving business and building brands for organizations and licensors including Thomas Kinkade. She is managing director of marketing at Redwood Media Group.  The company helps artists grow their business.

Brand Building with Marketing That Really Counts!
by Linda Mariano
Managing Director of Marketing 
Redwood Media Group

Have you ever thought of yourself as a brand? Well – time to start! Every person – artist or otherwise – IS a brand. Everything you do is a representation of you as a brand – what you think, wear, eat, who you love, who you know, your profession – every element is the essence of you as a brand. As Andrew Carnegie said many years ago: “Young man, make your name worth something!” Even Buddha gave this sage advice: “Wise men fashion themselves.”

When people see you, read your blog, visit your gallery or studio, see products with your artwork – all of it is a reflection of you as a brand. Whether the artwork is brandable or not is not the point – the point is representing yourself, your work, your gallery, your studio, all of it with consistency. All of those elements - and more - create a branded image. It’s Happy Bunny is branded artwork – but Jim Benton (the artist who creates It’s Happy Bunny) is also a brand unto himself. And quite frankly, that’s how he got started – by branding himself consistently and getting his work out there. Telling his story over and over again – created Jim Benton as a brand. Then there was viability for It’s Happy Bunny.

Ask yourself: What makes some marketing stand out in a crowded marketplace? Is it the brand or the way it is positioned? Perhaps you have never considered that you are a brand – that everything you do is a reflection of that brand. And that is where marketing that really counts begins. So have you thought about you as a brand and how it is perceived? What are the key elements of your brand? Are they recognized by your customer? Creating marketing that is in sync with your brand and reaches your customer are the two most important keys to success.

Artist, Gallery Owner, Art Publisher, Agent – no matter how you are involved in the art industry – you can use this list to evaluate your marketing on a continual basis and be on your way to creating marketing that counts – and building your brand!

1. Make your brand evident in everything you do!
Be consistent. Always use your logo – it can define who you are and make you stand out. And add a descriptive tagline that tells more of the story. You want to take the opportunity to give the collector or consumer more information in a catchy appealing way. Build their interest. And always make sure that the logo and tagline describe what you do and who you are. “Coca-Cola, Open Happiness” – “Home Depot, More Saving, More Doing” – “Mastercard, Priceless” – all great examples of how they are creating a brand message every time you see their marketing.

2. Make sure your brand translates to your customer
The way you position your brand is a critical component to capturing their attention. Your ad, your flyer, your signing, every element of your marketing should begin to tell the story of the art, the artist, the gallery – you! Giving a frame of reference, making sure it is easily understood and memorable and using great on-trend colors and design captures attention. And once you have captured their attention, your audience is intrigued and begins to experience the brand and your marketing message. And you have started to create something that is memorable.

3. Tell your story – engaging interest on every level
So you’ve got their attention, now what? Now you tell the story behind the brand and its relevance. Ideally the tagline starts the story, the colors and design of the logo reinforce the story, and now you need the one or two sentence description about the artist and their inspiration or the Gallery and who and what it features. A few examples that illustrate the brand and story concept: “Britto: Art is too important not to share” – “Wyland, Marine Life Artist: Reaching out to people everywhere with a message of art, nature, and community” – “LeRoy Neiman, Contemporary Artist: Indelible images defining the 20th Century” – “John Scanlan, Windows to the World Fine Art Photography”.

4. Sync your marketing strategy with your brand
Now you need to evaluate – everything you are doing. What, why, how, when are you doing it? Remember this old adage: “If you do what you did, you’ll get what you got – but the results will be less.” And taking a step backwards is not what you need in today’s fast paced marketplace. So if you have a “tried and true”, it’s time to refresh it! Trying new avenues and new strategies can lead to expanding your brand and reaching new customers.

5. Determine the best marketing strategy for reaching the target customer
You need to identify your customer. Are you trying to reach a repeat customer or a new customer? Remember that your database of needs replenishment on a constant basis. Statistics tell us that attrition and the economy makes even the effectiveness of even the very best list of customers decrease by 15% or more each year. Getting a new customer means thinking outside your normal demographic – think about new affiliations, partnerships, non-competitive markets and businesses.

Your marketing plan is key to maximizing your reach and bringing in new and repeat customers. There are the traditional marketing avenues: print ads in newspapers and magazines; TV and radio; direct mail catalogs, postcards and letters; flyers and hand-outs; and the phone for re-connecting with former customers and making cold calls. Sending out regular attention-grabbing press releases can get you free exposure in local publications. Of course, don’t forget social media marketing! Be there on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Give everything an updated look – and grab your audience’s attention! Start with an attention getting headline, add a powerful image. Create copy that sells and make sure you have a call to action with a strong incentive that warrants action.

Remember it’s a CAMPAIGN! You need an integrated plan with multiple points of messaging. And advertise in the right venues to reach your target audience. Keep in mind that an affluent audience and high-end collectors expect high-end product and events whereas moderately priced product has a more general market appeal. In this case, repetition is a good thing – it will reinforce your branding while reinforcing your message.

6. It’s a brand new decade – differentiate your brand and marketing
Of course you have a website, but have you approached it as one of your critical marketing venues? It is essentially your online brochure or catalog – it’s the paramount place for your brand presentation. Evaluate it with the same critical eye that you would your other marketing materials. Make sure your logo is on every page, the tagline is short, snappy and engaging. Your website is THE place to tell your story – make sure it is interesting and compelling. Can you easily see what is being sold or promoted? Don’t forget the call to action. And be sure your contact information is on every page.

Do you use email campaigns? They are an easy, inexpensive way to send updates and new information. Treat them the same as you would any communication. Logo, tagline, contact information and, of course, clear directions and response capabilities. Use your email campaigns to drive traffic to your website, gallery, studio and special events.

Get your “fans” and collectors into the marketing picture! Use social networking like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to get the word out. Link everything back to your website and maybe even give incentives for participating. Create a blog and write about your area of expertise – you know what you’re talking about! It’s all about inviting comments and interaction, encouraging discussion and opinions, make it a “happening”. And the fun is you get to see what people are writing and can use it to your advantage to learn from your visitors.

And don’t forget community and charity opportunities as a way of reinforcing your brand. These can be great venues for getting to know people who support and appreciate the arts. Low cost or no cost opportunities such as open studio, gallery walks, decorator show house events, art fairs and shows, directories, and local charities where you can donate artwork to raise awareness. And they will spread the word about you too!

7. Give your customers what they want
Make sure you know what they want! You can ask them directly – or simply discover it by looking at the info you already have. Take a look at your best sellers, specific customers’ purchases, and requests for something that you do not currently offer. Now match what you learn with what you offer – maybe it’s as simple as offering a different size artwork or a different frame or a different color.

8. Integrated impression from your art, your gallery, your marketing
Make every customer a repeat customer. You want to give each and every person a reason to come back. It is really the experience that they have with you that makes you, your gallery or studio, and artwork memorable. Some even say that the artwork they take home is the “souvenir of the experience!” Imagine that great experience as a pebble dropped in a pool of water with ripples ringing out and out – that’s what can happen when your customer has a great experience and wants to tell everyone about it!

What’s happening on a daily basis in your gallery or studio? You need to have a fresh, exciting presentation that is invites the customer to want to experience more. More about the artwork, more about the artist, more about every aspect of your brand. While you may have special events and promotions, make every day an event to insure you are more effective in the way you engage your customers. And your programs and campaigns – plus that all important experience – brings them back over and over again.

9. Bottom-line - it’s your brand and the impact it makes!
Make it memorable and differentiated from your competition. Create an experience worth remembering. Create an experience worth repeating. Make the product offering and presentation exciting. Set you, your artwork, your brand apart by offering what the customer wants – making sure to add in something new or unique. As Peter Drucker, the great icon of marketing and brand management, said: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

10. Bottom-bottom-line
Don’t retreat! Get out there and be seen! In a challenging economy, aggressive new businesses win by initiating advertising and marketing strategies while their competitors are trying to save money! Remember: Keep it real – and that means relevant! Great brands with effective marketing say to people, “Here's what we've got. Here's what it will do for you. Here's how to get it.” Now get going to build your brand with an effective marketing strategy!

This article was updated 7/21/18. 

Your comments are welcome. Please click on the comments section (below) to write your comment.


  1. This is an excellent piece that every artist should read, and re-read. Thank you, Linda, for creating this valuable resource and thank you, Joan, for bringing it to our attention through your remarkable blog.

  2. Interesting info, thanks for putting it together like this.

  3. Joan, Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the amazing content in your blog. So much appreciated. Great article!

  4. This is the type of information that all artists ought to read! Well written.

  5. Artists need to effectively brand themselves just like any other business. A logo or artistic image on business cards, letterhead and your website makes you recognizable and people remember you. This is excellent information.

  6. Sensible information, and it's best considered up front in a business (where I am at) and easier to implement. This was generously shared - thank you.

  7. Important and v necessary information for every artist. So glad I found this article pre-launch!
    Thank you.