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Mundane & Magic
Divination, witchcraft, day to day life, reviews, business, & creativity!

Branding vs. Creating

Hi. I'm a creator.

It might be contagious.

Sorry, not sorry.

For me, creating is a need, it's how I process things in my life, good and bad. I need it as much as I need food, sleep, exercise, and really bad jokes. I'm so thrilled, thankful, and blessed that people want my creations to the extent that it pays the bills. That certainly wasn't my focus when I started creating. I had to feed my need in order to stay at least a little sane in a crazy world. When I made the choice to do creating full time as a business (back in 2013) I focused on a way of doing business with two simple goals:

  1. Create as much as possible.

  2. Get stable enough income from creating that I can enjoy it vs. being stressed out and worried about money all the time.

I didn't care about being famous or well known or making a boatload of money. I cared about creating and having a rewarding experience doing so that I could sustain. This meant my choices as to how to run my business were focused on that. And it also lead me to get very annoyed with the idea of "branding".

So...What IS Branding?

Branding is one of those terms that can mean a lot of different things. It can refer to:

  • The act of marking livestock with a branding iron.

  • The act of describing someone or something with a bad quality.

  • The promotion of a product or company by means of advertising and design.

  • Specific wording or design used to identify a specific brand.

With a bunch of different meanings you can see why this could get confusing pretty quickly!

The Tradition of Commercial Branding:

Traditionally when running a commercial business you work with a marketing company or ad agency to create your "brand". This introduces your company and your products to the world using things like ad campaigns. Often a specific image, feel, or personality is focused on so that people will associate it with your company or product.

Branding a Person or Personality:

In more recent years social media has taken the concept of branding a person or personality to a whole new level. We have branded social media personas, influencers, even some content creators choose to focus on this. This is where the PERSON themselves is what's being sold to you in some form. Maybe so you'll want content or products they create or recommend on behalf of other companies.

So did you do any branding?

The simple answer is NO. I opted not to hire a company or run my own promotions/advertisements to introduce my business, myself, or my products as a brand to potential customers. Instead I did something a bit backwards:

I focused on creating content first. With each project I've done I've always focused on the content. My content is usually in the form of digital or physical products, but in some cases it might be something like this post - content that's free and not related to anything I sell. Just something I want to get out of my head and into some written or illustrated form. With each thing I make I ask myself:

  • Would I want this thing myself?

  • Would I like it?

  • Find it useful?

  • Find it fun?

  • Is the quality good?

  • Is the price fair?

  • How do I want to share this with others?

My idea was that if I mad art or books or decks of cards that looked good... they would be able to sell themselves. Show them to folks and if they like them that's it. Keep it simple. Don't spam people. Don't make a huge song and dance. Just show the content. Note: HOW you reach folks to show stuff to is a topic for an entirely different topic... maybe a future post?

Over time you WILL establish a name

When you like an author, artist, or other creator you tend to go back for more. They don't need to market themselves or their work to you using "branding" because their creations themselves do that. Show up and keep making things that are of good quality and people will come back. Even better they will recommend your things and gift them to others.

Wait, so what's the difference?!

The difference is:

  • BRANDING is promotion of a product, company, or even a person by means of advertising and design.

  • Creating a name for yourself occurs naturally by means of creating content. You may still end up with a brand in that people recognize your name or your work, but you are approaching it from the content side vs the commercial side.

Technically branding IS probably faster. That's one reason a lot of companies and creators prefer it. For me, developing my business more gradually over many years meant I had very stable customer base . My customers are folks who know my creations based on the content they have from me and they even promote it for me because they like it. This results in amazing viral marketing. Basically this means word of mouth from family and friends tells you about what I make vs an advertisement of my brand. It may be slower, but it's also a lot more effective because it's not brushed off as often.

I'm still a creator most of all.

I've known plenty of people making products in the same areas that I do. Lots of them DO use commercial branding. And a good number of them have personal brands too. Some even have entire fictional personas that they use to connect to their customers, fans etc. There's NOTHING wrong with that if it feels right and works for them.

Here's the thing. I'm terrible at putting on a persona or personality. It's just NOT my thing. I don't even have a different way that I talk vs. write. I'm just me, for better or worse. So I'm never going to be able to brand who I am into a sell-able commercial package. So branding myself or what I make was never going to work for me. But I'm a firm believer that hard work, quality, passion, and integrity result in products that can actually sell themselves.

In other words:

I don't want or need someone to look at my newest product because I made it and they recognize my "brand" or even my name.

I want someone to look at it because THAT specific thing interests them. If they see my name as the author and realize they own other books by me? Cool, that's awesome, but the product itself should be what's seen first.

Please keep in mind these are the views and choices that were right for me as a creator. They won't be right for every creator, but hopefully it's some food for thought to read my point of view. :)


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