On Saturday, March 24, IWPA members and guests took a guided tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, IL. As a budding writers, here are my 5 takeaways from this event.
Branding is critical to marketing your work for building an image to consumers. Today, we’re oversaturated with advertising logos – from the golden arches of McDonalds to Apple’s bitten fruit. However, Wright was ahead of his time. We see early an early example of branding on a stone plaque adjacent to his studio (pictured right) introducing “Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect” to arriving clients. In 1898! The embellishment on the bottom right hand corner of the business card-like plaque was a reoccurring design he replicated in his work, which made it a great logo candidate. Maintaining brand consistency helps communicate your identity and work approach to clients, and it helps new audiences distinguish you from the competition.
Wright allowed himself to make mistakes. For young writers early in their careers, the prospect of putting out work that is anything less than perfect can be immobilizing. However, during the Home and Studio tour on March 24, we saw a 22-year-old Wright eager to stumble through the mandatory stages for crafting his career, fine tuning ideas that he’d perfect as he gained experience. Wright’s Home and Studio shows examples of his creative “masterpieces,” as well as his “failures.” Lesson? Embrace the process.
Know your audience and make an impression. Wright was keenly aware of how he presented his work and himself to others. Unforgettable impressions, whether made by his eccentric and unconventional dress or his unapologetic architecture, worked to satisfy his audience as well as expand it. Wright’s representation of his himself and his craft were almost always aligned with the brand. Know who you are and who you’re communicating with, then sustain your brand fearlessly, online and off. Consistency is key.
Wright adapted to what customers wanted. As a freelance writer, while it’s important to maintain your unique brand and style, it’s also
necessary to adapt to the needs of your client or audience. Although Wright’s style is instantly recognizable, he also designed projects that that catered to wide audiences. Freelance writers must frequently find a way to negotiate these competing priorities. However, compromise doesn’t have to mean erasing your brand.
Networking is a must. Wright frequently connected with people outside his immediate circles to spread the word about his work. This is part of the reason that, decades after his death, the architect’s name is as well-known as the work itself. Networking with people outside the architectural community, such as members of the press, prospective clients, students and faculty, and presenting himself to American television audiences on shows like “What’s My Line?” helped make Wright a household name. Making connections through networking, regardless of profession, opens new doors of opportunity. For a freelance writer, growing comfortable pitching yourself and your work to new people can be the difference between one-off jobs and steady gigs.
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