April 23, 2018

What's Your Brand Voice?

To promote your art as a professional, you need to talk about it in a way that’s engaging, enticing and fitting for your brand. For many artists, the question of brand voice may seem moot because you are your brand, so can’t you just be yourself? Yes, and no. Just like you don’t share every detail of your private life with customers, your brand as an artist may be a slight variation on your everyday self. Ideally, your brand is true to who you are, what you value and how you view the world, but with a filter for relevance and professionalism. For handmade  businesses that try to represent more than just the maker, its even more important that you have a shared brand persona so your whole team knows how to represent the company. If you haven’t taken time to think through your voice, I highly recommend this exercise. It doesn’t have to take long, and it should help guide you anytime you’re staring at a blank marketing plan. Moreover, who else is a better expert on your brand than you? Let’s dive in!
First of all, for those of you who aren’t convinced, I want to share a little more on the value of a brand voice. I’ve mentioned Consistency a couple of time before, most notably as it relates to how you organize your work and how you share your talent via online media. Having a brand helps your fans find you and get to know you. Just as you develop an artistic style, you should also have a marketing style. Think about big, global companies that are recognizable just by their design and tone of voice. Coca Cola always uses red and talks about bringing people together. Starbucks is known for their characteristic green and wants to energize your day. Many of these brands don’t even have to mention their name or use their logo, and you still know it’s them. You want your supporters to recognize your art when they see and know your voice when they “hear” it. Of course, in this case I’m talking more about online marketing, so they’re reading what you have to say, but voice determines what and how your write.

The second reason why voice matters comes in Building Relationships. Yes, you’ve heard me mention that before too. People buy from brands they like. You have the chance via social media and other channels to “make friends” with these potential customers. Help them understand what inspires you and why they should shop handmade. What makes you unique and likeable? Why is your work right for them? As you post, let them into your process. Start a conversation that the right buyers will want to join. If you’re consistent, you’ll seem more authentic, and if you have shared values, people will start to like you. Your voice and what you say will do the heavy lifting here. Be true to yourself just as you would when making a friend in real life, but this time you’re representing your talents and your work, not just yourself.

#1. Start by visualizing your brand as a person.
What do they look like? How do they dress? What personality traits would they have? While it may seem hard to deceive your paintings with adjectives describing a person, actually coming up with a profile will help translate into those terms. Your work is brightly colored, so is your persona bold and daring or perhaps youthful and bubbly? You create all natural soaps, so is your brand elegant and high end or more vegan and hippie? Brand Voice is based on personality and values. If you haven't spent timing thinking about what your brand represents, you may want to start a little farther back than voice. Here are some great tips on establishing your brand foundation.

Source: Buffer Social

#2. Consider what you’re not.
If you’re not sure how to put your brand into words, it may be easier to arrive at by process of elimination. Are you sassy or more mild mannered? Is your brand welcoming to all or more elite? Can you use slang or do you need to keep it clean? After you map out the extremes, go back and get more granular to figure out where you fall on each spectrum. For example, if you decide you aren't political, but do want to support feminism, that can help you draw a line without avoiding the topic all together. By taking this step, you can also help yourself avoid potential issues. Map out whether or not your brand will use certain words, humor, sarcasm, etc. Anything potentially polarizing should be considered so you stay true to your voice and the impression you want to make.

Source: Content Marketing Institute

#3. Remember your customers.
While you’re representing yourself, think about what will appeal most to your buyers since you want them to like you. What do these people look and sound like? What are their values? If you’ve found the right niche audience, you should be able to easily fit their expectations. A brand of children’s toy or clothing would most likely not be irreverent because that’s not what most parents are looking for. A printmaker or painter with a strong political stance however, may focus on standing up to the man. Slang and curse words would make sense in their brand vocabulary, but not so much in that or a family portrait artist. Know who you’re taking to.


At the end of the day, this exercise is designed to help guide you in producing content to promote your work. This is important on any channel, but especially for your social media. You are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to build relationships. Everyone you connect with is a chance to leave an impression, and your voice helps make that happen. Whether you are sassy or classy, feminist or apolitical, elegant or approachable, your voice makes your brand real. Next week I’ll share some great examples from current Austin artists to get you thinking.