(adjective; stōked) – an enthusiastic or exhilarated state.

Branding Identity Case Study: Jesse Smith – Tattoo Artist from Ink Master Season 2

Apr 1, 2021


Stoqd Marketing recently helped world-renowned tattoo artist Jesse Smith, implement a new ‘Personal Brand Identity’, and put a framework in place to help the client create higher quality content on social media, and with higher output. We have worked with Jesse on many projects, including helping to get him verified on Instagram.

For this particular branding project, we began by walking Jesse through the well known Story Brand 7 part framework, then built out a topic wheel to help narrow down certain topics and passions that were important to the client, then last – creating a functional content calendar for social media to help the client become more effective with their social media marketing. These services are something we implement very often, regardless of what type of marketing project the client may have. We operate on Brand first, then Platform, then Content. This project was focused primarily on the Brand phase of our process.

About the Client:

Jesse Smith did his first tattoo in March of 1998 and is known for his new school, quirky, colorful, and illustrative based art and tattoo work. He has won numerous awards for his tattoos, was featured on Season 2 of Ink Master, and has been featured in many major tattoo publications. He is the founder of Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond, Virginia. He owns Loose Screw, as well as Method Tattoo System, the Richmond Tattoo, Music & Arts Festival, as well as his non-profit – the Giving Arts Foundation. He is a businessman, a father, and an amazing artist. We have worked with Jesse on many projects and we look forward to continuing our relationship and friendship.

The Problem:

The downfall of running many businesses is that we tend to forget about ourselves, and our own image. This is also referred to as a “Personal Brand”. We believe strongly that everyone has a personal brand, even if that is not your direct intention. People do not do business with companies. They do business with people, based on emotion, and if you’re not putting your best foot forward with your online presence you are missing out on opportunities and additional revenue. Jesse Smith is a man of many talents and he has a team of individuals helping him at every turn, but not with his personal brand – until now.

Previously, Jesse felt frustrated, lost, and a bit stuck with the direction of his personal brand, and what he wanted to see it accomplish. Jesse has over 250,000 followers on Instagram alone and is a verified figure online – but he was not happy with the direction and frequency of his content. He wasn’t sure what to post about, he did not plan his content ahead of time, and did not have a cohesive feel and style for the content he shared online.

The Solution:

By implementing the well-known marketing and branding framework “Story Brand” – we were able to clarify Jesse’s messaging and the direction of his content. This process can take several hours or is sometimes broken up into a 2-day workshop. Once this was completed, we made a 1-page mindmap and went through dozens of ideas for what Jesse’s content would actually consist of. We aim to create three main content pillars for all of our clients. Jesse’s consisted of art (of course), business, and lifestyle.

Once we’ve identified these main pillars our next move is to break each category down further. For example, a pillar such as Art may consist of posts about these topics: tattoos, artist collaborations, art education, artwork in progress, personal art journey or stories, as well as the business side of art. Once these micro-topics are chosen then we break them down further into post ‘types’. Post types are made up of three categories; viral, community, and authority posts. Viral posts consist of trendy ideas that are already working for other creators but can also be inspired from original ideas as well. Community posts are what make up most content creators’ feeds and are considered to be the ‘meat’ of what makes up your content. Authority posts are what we refer to as your sales material or call to action.

Once we locked in Jesse’s topic wheel we start to move all of these topics and post ideas into a content calendar. The benefit of doing things this way is that now Jesse has a rinse and repeat process for creating a month’s work of content, and we’ve drastically reduced the amount of time and brainpower it would take if he instead had to come up with these ideas from scratch each and every month. This also ensures that his content is congruent with what he actually cares about, as well as giving his audience something to relate to on a personal level – rather than him just posting in a reactive state about things that are easy, such as his artwork and tattoos. Now, he can share more intimate content such as his lifestyle, family life, or hobbies, and passions without risking privacy and without posting low-quality content. We built his content calendar in Notion, which is a popular document, database, and information management tool. This calendar gives him a schedule to follow, tells him exactly what to post, and when to post it.


Jesse Smith now has a functional Brand Plan that he can refer back to when working on anything related to his marketing. For example, he now has clear and repeatable messaging that can be used in all of his marketing communication. For his personal brand website, he now knows exactly who his audience is and what specific messaging to use on the website and in his call to actions (if any). He also has clear and repeatable messaging to use on his social media channels, in his captions and DMs, and even in brief conversations with a passerby in an elevator.

We built a full content calendar for Jesse to follow every month, week, and day. He now feels like he has a clear path forward and that he knows exactly what to post, why he’s posting it, and when to post it. Having a content plan is critical for someone with a fanbase the size of Jesse’s, and now he doesn’t feel like he needs to hire a team of 30 people to run his social media channels, and now he has a better grasp on managing his own channels on a day to day basis.

Client Feedback:

This process has definitely ironed out a bunch of wrinkles that I had in my mind. I’m looking forward to starting to create new content now, and I’ve realized that there are a lot of other things I could be posting about on social media. I think before maybe I didn’t have the confidence to post about other topics outside of art.– Jesse Smith


When I first started working with you [stoqd] it was just simply for Facebook and Google ads, but I’ve started realizing that there’s a lot more that you guys can offer, including what we’ve done today such as brainstorming what my message and brand is, and then figuring out how to convey that message through advertising. I’ve realized that I was doing this ass-backward.– Jesse Smith

Jesse Smith Tattoo Artist Case Study

Jesse Smith

Jesse discovered his love of art while living in Germany as an army brat teen. Jesse developed his signature style of quirky cartoon style designs and use of color by working in numerous tattoo shops in the US as well as overseas in Europe and China before opening up his own shop, Loose Screw Tattoo in Richmond, VA.

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