Being a graphic artist with a background in marketing, branding is pretty much the cornerstone for my whole professional career. I eat/sleep/breathe branding, and for nearly every design decision I make, the brand of that project is always considered at least in some small way. So why do I have such a difficult time getting my own brand in check?
Designers are a crazy lot; as much time and effort we put into our work for others, we hardly take time to concentrate on personal projects. When we do put time into our own projects, we’re so burnt from doing work for others, we don’t want to tap the creative well one more time for our own sake. Or maybe that’s just me.
More Than a Logo
Back in the day when a brand was still a hot piece of iron pressed into cowhide, your logo was your statement. Connect a D and a C together in the middle of a circle and I’m telling you, “This is my cow, bitch. Don’t Touch”, but something tells me that’s not the end of the story for cowpokes.
I’m not a cowboy from the 19th century, but I can make an educated guess that even with that brand on the cow, you still ran the risk of people not taking it seriously. Your reputation for how you back up that brand probably carries more weight than the symbol itself. Steal cattle from the wrong rancher and it could be your hide that’s sizzling next.
The Brand is Everything
Every little thing you do regarding your business becomes part of your brand. The quality of your work is just as essential as the quality of your logo design. Your customer service does more for your brand than your marketing collateral, but the collateral counts too. It’s not about how much you spend or how much time you take, but how well you execute ever aspect of your business that defines your brand.
Ironically, with social media being the main source of information for many folks, you don’t get to control how people perceive and talk about your business anymore. You can’t stymie the bad press and you can’t push the good P.R. more than your public will allow. The only thing you can do is provide the best products and/or services you know how all while staying consistent with your message.
A Chink In The Armor
Everywhere you see me online, I am consistent. You can type my name into just about any social media outlet and you’ll most likely hit my profile first. I’ve tried to stay consistent with that since I started focusing my energy toward building up reputation in those arenas. I am uniform everywhere … except one place; the one where I make my money.
Beach Cities is doing well. I’m not killing it yet, but it’s working and since I just started showcasing my work in art and craft events, I’m spreading the message to new crowds. I also just got a note from a local boutique that asked if I’d be willing to put some of my work into their shop on consignment. All of this is very cool and I am stoked beyond belief, but as I approach the precipice of success, I can’t seem to decide which direction to take my brand.
I feel there is a disconnect between the Dave Conrey Art brand and the Beach Cities brand. To those that interact with me regularly online, there is no separation, DC and BC are one in the same, but go to my Dave Conrey Art page on Facebook and the main image says Beach Cities. That is a failure on my part and I need to fix it, but I’m not exactly sure which direction to go.
The Beach Cities brand is a good one, a strong one, but I wonder if I’ll be able to maintain my direction for long term. I love the beach/surf theme and will always use it as inspiration, but I have other subjects I want to explore (figurative, abstract, etc.) and I’m not sure that it would be a clear derivative of the Beach Cities brand. I still have my Dave Conrey page on Etsy where I could post these derivatives. Or I could take a page from my friend Liese Chavez and create a separate identity altogether, promoting each equally, crossover as needed. The last option is the most flexible but also bring about the most work trying to manage. Do I really want to create a whole new set of brand elements (logo, business cards, banners) just to post up a different type of work?
I’ve also considered the idea changing the BC shop to be Beach Cities by Dave Conrey, but that just sounds so douchey, I’m not sure I could pull it off. Whatever direction I go, I need to decide soon. If I’m not careful, as my list of fans grows on Twitter and Facebook, I risk a disconnect on a much larger scale. I could be overacting completely, assuming people won’t be able to follow along, which is kinda ludicrous considering some of the brilliant people I interact with daily. Still, it’s time for me to put on the big boy pants and turn this hobby into the business brand it deserves to be.