Branding Art & Mosaics

By Danilo Bonazza

How does branding and marketing impact my artisan business? It’s an interesting question that requires a lot of thinking.

Born and raised in Italy, I grew up with the traditional mentality of my father: “Work hard, work right, be honest and you will be rewarded no matter what”. Following these principals has actually worked out pretty well for me and my business. I’ve been very passionate about creating mosaics and art in general since I was a kid, and over the years I developed an obsession for precision and quality. My business grew organically by word of mouth… designers and architects were showing each other the projects I was involved in and were excited to refer me. Over time I built up a positive reputation for quality and constancy.

When I decided to move to the United States I thought my strategy would work as effectively as before but I was completely wrong. It is definitely a different world with a very different approach to which I am still adapting. Most clients don’t even know the difference between mosaics and tiles and word of mouth doesn’t really work as well as it did in Europe. Still to this day, I rely mostly on my European and Asian clients but that obviously means that my projects are not as close as I would like them to be. I like traveling but I would prefer to have something closer to home. I finally became aware that my approach to marketing was definitely not as good as it should be in order to be effective here in the States.

In the meanwhile, technology also changed the way we communicate and share information with each other. Marketing has been dramatically affected by this evolution. I am still in the process of figuring out what the best strategy is and I think it starts with being honest with myself: I am not good at all at it so I am in need of someone to provide help in this regard. A little while ago I actually hired somebody that was supposed to take over this aspect of the business but after almost a year and no results, I realized it was not a great choice.

So what is the right marketing in our field and how do we adapt it in an ever evolving world? I believe we live in a very transitional phase in which there are so many new tools to reach many potential clients, but for the same reasons, which ones are actually working are not yet clear. For me, it’s important to understand who my clients are. Due to the great expense it requires to create a mosaic tile pools, my average client is definitely somebody who is affluent enough to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on a pool. Is social media the right tool to use for branding and marketing in this regard then? It’s a good tool to reach a lot of people, and if used properly, it can be very powerful. I think that in a couple of years the strategies that are most effective will become more evident.

The next question could be: does marketing influence the client’s needs or does the client’s needs influence the marketing? It sounds like a dog chasing its tail but it is also true.

It is a fine line, but finding the right balance between directing the clients towards the kind of materials and work I prefer could be rewarding both economically and professionally.

In todays constantly changing world I think that we should try many different strategies and see which one works better for us and pay particular attention to that. The most important thing is focusing on constantly improving and evolving.

— Danilo Bonazza of Art & Mosaics