This is a super basic primer about branding aimed at illustrators and commercial artists, but at least the first half is relevant to anyone interested in the subject.
*Note that I simplified the history of branding quite a bit in order to keep the section succinct so we could get to the modern use of the term, which I think is more helpful.
BRAND IS EVERYTHING
Brand isn't just a trademark, a logo, or a corporate identity anymore. It's a culmination of alllllll of the experiences you've ever had with a certain product or company or even person. So each and every little detail matters. Thing about how the lights on an iMac mimic a human's breath when they're sleeping. That little handwritten message when you get a package from Etsy, the lining of a luxurious handbag, each and every sweet dream you have on your 400 thread count sheets. All of these create a feeling that we have for what we choose to surround ourselves with. So try to look at your brand through the eyes of someone else and notice what all of your touch-points say about you.
START WITH WHY
These days we care about why. We can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away. The good news is, as an artist we're probably not in it for the fortune and glory. ;) So, think about your why and put to words. This can be through a mission statement, or your Instagram bio, or even come out through the products that you make. It can be written into your contracts and used as a reason for clients to pick you.
DIFFERENT IS MEMORABLE
Don't be afraid if you don't look, think, talk feel, make art, or do business like everyone else does. Own it. Your difference is your greatest strength. It's the only thing that makes you memorable, so lean into it. That's definitely something the whole world needs right now! :)
Aim to Delight
There are expectations, these are the things you'll need to deliver every single time to build credibility and trust. And then, there's delight. Those above and beyond moment you have where something unexpected makes you feel special. Try to think about the entire experience a customer will have with your brand and build in little pockets of delight. It can be as easy as throwing in an extra sticker into a package or mailing it a couples days earlier than you said you would. Delight goes a long way...
Try to FOCUS
Focus is so tough (for me). Because there are so many things I want to do all of the time. But, for brand you've gotta pick some consistencies and follow through. Say you are immersed in the world of botanical illustration, concerned about climate change and illustrating a 'Wildflowers of the West' book - all of these things are in the same realm and can enrich and build on each other. So, you might not benefit from starting a webcomic about Cat People... ya know?