I am branding myself. No, I am not applying a hot iron to my buttocks as cowboys do with steers. But I am doing something that, at least among some of my colleagues, is equally as controversial. I am attempting to make myself into a ballet product.
As Daniel H. McQuiston, marketing scholar at Butler University, defines the term:
Branding is more than simply putting the company’s name on a product and broadcasting that name to its target audiences. For industrial products, branding is a multidimensional construct that includes not only how the customers view the physical product, but also the logistics, customer support, and corporate image and policy that accompany this product (1).
Though “branding” is more commonly thought to apply to products like Cheerios and iPhones, I maintain that the principles of branding can be used in the ballet world. I have always used the internet in the development of my career through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and a website. But now I am developing a new website that I hope will firmly establish me as a particular type of "ballet brand."
Branding educates consumers by creating defined sets of expectations associated with specific products. By educating consumers, branding helps consumers make informed buying decisions. In the arts world, marketing in general and branding in particular are in their infancy. At present, “arts marketing can be seen as being too narrowly focused on the marketing of arts and heritage offerings rather than of wider issues of business and culture” (O’Reilly 574).
Some of my colleagues have advised that marketing and branding will make me less of an artist and more of a commodity; they fear that mixing business with art will somehow dilute the purity of my art. But has ballet ever been "pure art?" If we look at the origins of classical ballet, I think we will see that ballet has always served a multitude of functions, including in a very early and important instance, the function of branding.
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