Non-Fiction

You Don’t Need to Have a Brand

Photo taken out of a car window that's covered in water droplets of a storefront with an open sign in the window and several framed pieces of art on the walls within. Pink-and-purple filter over image. White text aligned left reads, "You don’t have to have a brand as a creative person. You can just create. It’s fine." Handle @sage_pantony in white in bottom right corner.

You don’t have to have a brand as a creative person. You can just create. It’s fine.

Late-stage capitalism and social media are impacting our relationships to ourselves and our art. We are encouraged to commodify, label, and measure the success of our creativity.

If we don’t have a large audience for our work, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists. If we don’t make money from our art, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists. If we don’t have a defined brand or theme for our work, we may feel like we’ve failed as artists.

We haven’t.

Feel free to experiment, get weird, and try different things. Don’t feel like you have to stick to creating something you don’t like just because it’s a part of “your brand”. It’s probably healthiest to stop thinking of yourself as a brand.

Creativity likes flow, freedom, experimentation, messiness, and room to breathe. Creativity doesn’t like confinement, pressure, rigid expectations, commodification, and, um, capitalism. Don’t kill your creative process with branding. Don’t try to label and define something just as it’s trying to be born.

Let yourself fuck around. Start new projects and abandon them. Spend your time creating what you want rather than what you think the world wants from you. Don’t get stuck making the same thing over and over just because other people like it.

Art is not always straightforward, presentable, and easily consumable. Not everything you create has to be made for consumption. Not everything you create has to resonate with an audience. Art can exist for its own sake. You can make it just because you want to.

If you’ve been feeling pressure to create specific things in certain ways, if you’ve been feeling blocked, try doing something completely different. Step outside of the confines of what you normally make. Experiment. Don’t worry about how it will be received, and know that it doesn’t have to be received at all. Don’t worry about the final product. Allow yourself to get lost in the process and see what happens.

4 thoughts on “You Don’t Need to Have a Brand”

  1. It spreads to the entire concepts of hobbling; late-stage capitalism mandates that if your hobby can’t build itself into a side hustle, or at least pay for it itself, it’s not worth pursuing.

    I didn’t spend $3000 dollars for my domain to brand myself. I bought it because I legally changed my name and wanted it to host my blog (which I make adamant in the footer that it’s a hobby, not a money-maker) and have my own email, as I couldn’t register my name on one of the free sites like Gmail. Simple as that. Not to make money, not to brand myself—because I wanted to. Simple as that.

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    1. I also pay for a domain with my name. My point is more that you don’t have to have a brand, but you can have one if you want. A brand isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. It’s more of an issue if you feel restricted and confined by it.

      I’m thinking about the concept of branding in terms of having a personal brand that dictates the kind of content you produce. For example, I write about many different topics in many different ways. I’ve felt pressure before to narrow my focus and present myself as a specific kind of writer (have a defined writer brand), but I like writing about lots of different things! I’m happier this way. My work isn’t perfectly packaged and cohesive, but it reflects what I want to create, and that’s what matters the most to me.

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  2. I truly believe that the gift of creativity is in the doing. As long as we look at it that way, we won’t get sucked into getting something out of our efforts. That removes the fear of failure, and it’s really a great way to explore creative pursuits. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The gift of creativity is in the doing.” I really like that! So true. There’s so much more that we get out of the process of creating than just the final product, which is far from the only thing that matters.

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