I've been thinking lately about this thing called 'branding'. As an artist, I am the brand. But I am also an actual, real, dynamic human being. There are REAL people behind every brand, but I think small creative businesses like mine have a particularly difficult time dealing with branding themselves. How do I deal with the idea of brand consistency as a real person, when the only constant aspect of a person is the constant state of change? Can I be consistent and dynamic at the same time? What parts of my 'brand' should remain consistent and what parts should grow and change as I do?
In case any of you had ever wondered, this may be the right time to share... eels is actually my nick name. My very best friends call me eels. It was coined years ago by Bernadette (@bmtrainor) when we were both studying at Enmore. There's no crazy story, it just comes from my name, Tenille. (not One-eel, Ten-eels..?) I actually didn't like the nick name at first, but it grew on me. And now I love it. It also relates in a quirky kind of way to the ocean and scrimshaw. Because I have lots of different elements to my design and art practice, I wanted my scrimshaw jewellery to have a very clear identity. I like to use my full name for exhibition work, events and other jewellery work that isn't scrimshaw.
All of my work IS ME. So branding my business and my work means that I am branding my own identity. This is a troublesome idea for me. Those that know me well know that I can be flippant, flighty and easily distracted. I am constantly growing, changing and evolving as a person, so how do I resolve this within the context of a consistent 'brand'?
Lately I am thinking that the only option is to embrace it! To accept that many things will change, but there are things that will remain strong and provide solid grounding for my identity and the identity of my brand.
What will remain constistent? ...My voice, my values, my ethics, my true imperfect growing self. My resolve to make amazing and meaningful work; whatever that may mean. My commitment to making individual and unique work of a high quality. By accepting these things as constant, I am able to accept the things that will change.
What will change? ...My work. Hopefully it will get better and better! It may change dramatically over the years, but this is ok with me! My appearance, I will get older and more wrinkled. Haha! My perspective, I will grow and mature and that will impact on my brand and my work. My work is made by me and is influenced at every stage by me and my life.
What does this mean? ...I think that by embracing the reality of change, I will be more likely to be honest and take risks. This can only be a good thing! In the past, I have delayed 'making a move' until I was absolutely certain. Delayed launching a website, product, talking about an idea... etc until I was sure it was perfect. I now embrace the perfection of growth and resolve to put it all out there during the process.
What are your thoughts on branding a personal identity as an artist or in small business? What are the constants for you? and what do you allow to change and grow? I'd love to hear your comments below, or chat with me on twitter! @eelsjewellery