Branding involves creating symbols that potential fans or “targets” will associate with you or your product.
Those symbols, when combined and attributed to your brand, are then known as your brands identity.
Branding is reflected in everything you do or say as an artist or musician.
The pictures you take, Your autograph signatures, your name, logo, interviews, cover art and anything audible or visual should all be taken into consideration when developing your brand identity.
If your music brand is still young (under five years), be careful of everything you do or say in public.
Remember the Dixie Chicks? The Dixie Chicks were on top of the world until the day Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Mains made disparaging remarks about George W. Bush while overseas. With those remarks about George W. Bush, the Dixie Chicks branded themselves as “unpatriotic”. Hundreds of radio stations immediately yanked the Dixie Chicks music off the air. Be warned, watch what you do or say very carefully.
Back in the day, artists had publicists who would coach them as to what to say or do. Of course this often made the artist’s feel like puppets, but this practice usually kept the artists brand integrity intact. If you are a artist or musician be calculated about every thing you say or do. If someone hits you with a question you don’t want to answer, say something like “no comment” or “I’m all about music right now”.
Another thing to consider is your target market.
Find no more than two markets or genre’s to market to. I’ve worked with aspiring artist who say “I can sing all kinds of music”. Being a versatile singer or performer is a great thing, but not when building your brand identity. The majority of humans need to be able to categorize things in their minds in order to find a spot for them in our minds. Picture the human brain as a fleshy computer. It has many folders with many files. If your target can’t file your product into one or two categories (genres) instantly, you will be deleted.
It’s best to pick one or two genres -max, to market to. E.g. jazz and blues, hip hop and r&b, folk and country etc.
Build your own brand Identity – don’t let the public do it for you.
Recently, Arctic Monkeys sold over 300,000 using only the internet to market their music. Arctic Monkeys came out of nowhere with their CD “Whatever They Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”. Arctic Monkeys got lots of free press but not the kind they would have liked. News articles and radio features about Arctic Monkeys all said the same thing -“we don’t know who they are or what they stand for”. Well that’s no way to build a brand.
With all of the free press Arctic Monkeys have received you’d expect them to be on every American teens lip’s. Not so. Most American Teens don’t even know Arctic Monkeys exist. Arctic Monkeys allowed the press limited access to their brand and the press did what they do best when the details are missing – they fill in the blanks with speculation.
If you are a young brand don’t let this happen to you. Tell the public what to think and say about you through press releases and brand building activities.
Let your brand account grow before you take deposits out of it.
With branding, consistency is builds equity. Once you have built your brand identity and start to get some good attention, leave it alone and let it create value for you. Consider your branding efforts as putting money into an interest generating account like a 401K. The more you put into the same account the more interest you’ll get. The more interest you get the more money you’ll get. Get it?
Artists and musicians who change their brand identity often don’t have much success establishing a solid brand identity and have a much more difficult time getting people to remember who they are or why they should buy that brand.
What you are shooting for is brand presence.
To have brand presence, you’ll need to pick a target market, you’ll need to build the associative symbols that represent your brand, you’ll need to handle your young brand with care, you’ll need to limit where and how you market your brand, you’ll have to tell people what your brand symbolizes, you’ll have to invest in your brand and let it grow for you without changing it.
As you follow the steps above you’ll see your brand grow and give you a return on your investment.