Things are “commercial” when mass culture want to buy them. The focus is sales and profit. That sweet (at times unsavory) bottom-line.
Artistry is about the love of creation.
Sometimes people buy art, but they buy commercialism more. That’s the point.
Commercialism has something to learn about artistry and artistry can learn a thing or two about commercialism.
Because the truth is…
Sometimes you have to forsake artistry for commercial viability.
Sometimes you have to forsake commercial viability for artistry.
Sometimes you can find a cross section, but even then, there’s sacrifices.
You see it all the time.
Actors accept less creative roles because it’ll put them on the big screen. Then they’ll take a pay cut (like Hilary Swank did with the Freedom Writers) because the character excites them.
Musicians compromise their artist integrity to sell a million albums, then turn around and create a song they love but few have heard.
Filmmakers make corporate videos while they tinker with sci-fi animations on the side.
Writers ghostwrite whitepapers while they dance with poetry in the midnight hours.
Artistic compromise is a thing.
And it happens in business.
When we brand ourselves, there’s always a certain level of compromise.
How much of yourself, of your complex identity, do you package into your brand?
You’re not just some 2D web profile pitching a service. You’re a whole person with a whole story. But you still need to pick which parts of the story are relevant. Artist compromise is always in action.
I believe that’s the real reason people struggle with their branding.
It’s not because people don’t know who they are or what the benefits are.
It’s the challenge of creating a brand that’s both commercial and soulful – one that has some real semblance of the person and the artistry of their humanity.
We live through full of woes, foes, glory and disappointments, but our brand just says the headline.
And not everyone wants to be a headline. Sometimes people want to be seen. Really seen.
The artistry is in balancing that…. Balancing superficial with substance.
Branding calls for a headline whether we like it or not. We need to see headlines. People need to see your message, the essence of where you stand loud and clear.
Because if they like what they see, they’ll opt in to hear more about your story. Then your job is to slowly reveal more of your story.
You have to show people what’s relevant, and once they’re interested and there’s chemistry, you show them a little bit more. And a little bit more.
That’s what marketing, communications and blogs and facebook posts, etc. are for: continuing the conversation, unveiling substance and story while offering value and humanity. The artist has to dance between these elements.
When you’re thinking commercial you’re thinking how to make a profit.
When you thinking like an artist, you’re thinking how to make a connection.
With my own business, I am always weighing how much is “art” and how much is “business”.
I’m someone who needs to create for the love of creating – without regard for the bottom-line or long-term strategy. So, ironically, I built that into my business strategy.
Some time ago I realised there are ways I can make more money and be even more “effective” with my messaging.
I could be laser-focused on selling the tangible benefits and getting people to act quickly. I could triple my sales next month doing that.
But I don’t want to.
The cost/benefit isn’t in my favor, relatively speaking.
The benefit is selling more and making more money.
The cost is further commercialising what I do and forsaking personal, whimsical narrative for tactical sales pages.
The cost would be less connected relationships with my clients in return for more relationships that are focused on the transaction – the hard benefits and quick deliverables.
But I love the soft benefits: learning about people’s lives, emotionally supporting people, assisting people on their breakthroughs, hearing personal stories, seeing a business transform over time etc. I love the richness of depth verses breadth.
Breadth works for some people. It’s in fact perfect for some people. They create a service or a product and their goal is quantity. Their model is dependent on quantity.
It’s not my goal, so the approach wouldn’t work for me.
For me, the experience of working with a client is part of the payoff. I will sacrifice sales for depth of client relationship.
Of course, I don’t want to sacrifice too much. I’m not a martyr. I just have preferences.
Knowing your business preferences is essential to gaining clarity in the type of business you want to build. It dictates your business model and strategy.
Just because you can hold webinars and run ecourses, doesn’t mean you should. And vice versa, just because you’re comfortable and have a steady flow of clients, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scale.
[SIDE NOTE: You CAN make money from artistry, but you’ll have to pick your commercial temptations wisely. And likewise, if you’re going for mass, be prepared to let go of some artistry.
It all comes down to your preference and the “choose your own journey” you’ll most enjoy.
Some people prefer breadth verses depth. Some people prefer depth verses breadth. Some people prefer business for business. Some business for artistry.
And that’s cool. The world needs it all. You just need to know where YOU stand and make sure your conscious about it along your journey and your own ratio of artistry vs. commercialism.
Need a jive partner to get you clear about your biz and humanistic brand message? Holla at me and see how we can work together