Artists – Your Brand Lives In A Virtual World

Creatives and Business Your Brand Lives In A Virtual World

Your brand lives in a virtual world

One of the assignments I give my Artrepreneurship students at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver is to view the video on PBS Frontline entitled Digital Nation. I encourage you watch this video as the ideas and trends it presents have a major impact on how you market and sell your art or photography. These trends also have major implications for your business or personal brand. We are spending more time on our computers, notebooks, netbooks, smart phones and tablets – and increasingly we are using more than one of these devices at the same time.

We spend our time on talking on the phone, text messaging, emailing, Googling the world, social networking, shopping, and being entertained. By one estimate many people will spend half of their waking life in the virtual world online. Many people feel withdrawal if they are disconnected even for a few minutes – maybe this is where the term “crackberry” came from.

All of this connectedness and multitasking have come at a price. Studies are showing that multitasking is largely a myth. The more things we try to do at the same time the poorer we perform them all. A few years ago airline pilots overflew the Minneapolis airport by several hundred miles while they were engrossed in their laptops. People’s concentration and attention spans are being reduced at an increasing rate.

So what does this have to do with your business or personal brand? We increasingly rely on the Virtual World to get our brand message out. Some of the traditional means we used are no longer relevant or effective. In a world of short concentration and attention spans, a world where people are multitasking on multiple devices your brand can easily be passed over in the blink of an eye.

Marketing was much simpler in the “good old days” when there were a handful of television networks, a fair amount of radio stations, each city had a couple of newspapers and people read magazines. Today there are thousands of video and radio channels, thousands of online magazines and blogs where a person can get their fill of just about any subject or content that interests them – this presents a great challenge but also a great opportunity.

Some things you can do:

  • Keep your online content fresh, interesting and relevant to you target audience and customers. Search engines such as Google want their users to have a great experience and that means having content that is fresh, interesting and relevant – and that starts with you!
  • Make sure you have targeted your brand message to the right audience. Audiences are becoming more fragmented by the day. I have built my own “yellow pages” of resources through my relationships on social networking and other means. My physical yellow pages are nothing more than a doorstop and their days are definitely numbered. Google and online business reviews are where people go to find or research a product or service and that includes art.
  • Make sure your brand message is authentic and it can be easily absorbed and understood in a very little amount of time. You don’t have a lot of time to capture your audience’s attention, so keep it short, interesting and to the point.
  • Images can register in the mind a lot faster than text or even a catchy headline. Use your brand images to capture your prospect’s attention and drive your message home. Don’t forget that you need to follow-up a great image with great text that pulls your audience in and makes them want to find out more and buy your art.
  • If you are portraying your brand with stock images think twice before you congratulate yourself on how much money you saved. Make your brand images authentic and tell a story about YOUR brand – not just something to fill the white space on your website. Do you really think your audience gives a second look to images they have seen or think they have seen a hundred times before?
  • If you are using an image of yourself to portray your personal brand keep it interesting and professionally done. When you use a personal brand image pretend that your reader is a casting director for a film. They are sorting through a stack of headshots and you only have a few seconds to capture their attention. Does your personal brand image elicit “That person looks interesting, I would like to get to know them better” in your audience?

Ok, in the time it took you to read this article, did you check your email, answer a Facebook message, make a Tweet, or do other activities in the Virtual World? See what I mean?


Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto


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