DeviantArt Misses Its Mark?

Recently online artist community, DeviantArt unveiled their new branding along with plans for greater integration and the launch of their own app. The response from their 32 million registered members has been mixed. The comments range from the usual accusations of "corporatization" to plagiarism. has a summary of the initial reactions here.

What I think is most telling about these responses is that the community feels they missed the mark. It's much deeper than the logo or graphics – the story doesn't resonate with the audience.

This perfectly highlights the potential dangers of focusing on surface rather than the core of branding, which is a good story. The new DeviantArt messaging is not striking many of the artists as authentic. It doesn't represent the place they know and love, or look like somewhere they want to go. Often times organizations can operate in a marketing bubble and fall prey to how they see themselves versus how they are seen by their audience.

"Isn't branding supposed to control that?"

A good brand story doesn't just control perceptions, it informs your audience with details and authenticity to allow them to build their own connections. Your story must represent your values, your capabilities, and your truth. It should be simple and not require mental or verbal gymnastics to convey. Your audience is way too savvy and will spot phoney-baloney sloganeering a mile away. 

Engaging key stakeholders is a vital component of the branding process. Thoughtful research and meaningful levels of audience interaction enable you to listen to thoughts and opinions so you can identify where your brand currently resides. Combined with well-defined goals for growth we determine where you want to go and how you want to be perceived. Establishing that fixed point of aspiration provides a roadmap for defining positioning and telling your story.

Know who you are and tell everyone about it.