A musician’s image has become one of the most important elements of any musician’s career.
It doesn’t really need to be kept clean, though that is preferable for most. What it definitely needs is to be unique.
In the industry today, the image of an artist heavily affects the consumerization of their music. And that’s all thanks to social media where most of the branding strategies are done.
So for this article, we will be talking about branding in general and what indicates successful branding.
In addition, we have gathered a total of nine music branding tips that you can follow.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Branding is the process of creating and developing a unique and distinguishable image for a person or business.
It includes the coordination of creative outputs, marketing materials, and specific messaging.
There is no fixed path when you want to start creating a brand or image. So you can say that it is a complex process that depends on who you are, what you are interested in, and how you want to be perceived by people.
This is important for any business, this also includes musicians and that’s because the music you put out is an extension of your image
If people can’t connect or relate with your brand, there is a higher chance that they won’t listen to your music at all.
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WHAT INDICATES A SUCCESSFUL MUSIC BRANDING?
There is no way we can quantify the success of a music branding but there surely are indicators that can help us.
Here are three that we can think of.
1. Branding helps you stand out
If the brand you’ve made for yourself helps people differentiate you from other musicians who are aiming for the same audience and are in the same genre, then we can say that your branding was a success.
We can say this because it means that there is something unique about you that separates you from the others.
If your brand failed to do this, then maybe try another strategy or change your branding altogether.
2. Image is clear and consistent
There are different types of social media existing at present.
These social media platforms have very different ways of approaching users. So you can definitely tweak your brand voice for the different platforms.
What needs to stay in your posts though, is a clear and consistent image across all of them. This will help fans and other people identify you even if you have slightly different approaches on different platforms.
3. Brand visualizes your music
Though your career is more sonically focused, we cannot deny that a visual image gives that career a little more power.
Moreover, a person’s creativity is perceived by all five senses so why not have a visual image for your music too.
The visuals really add to the listening experience, you know.
9 MUSIC BRANDING TIPS
Now, we are on to the music branding tips.
There are a lot of other branding tips of course, but we hope that these nine tips would be enough to help.
#1. CREATE A MEMORABLE LIVE SHOW
There are a lot of ways you can make a show memorable. You can of course give your best, choose good music to add to your setlist and that would be memorable enough.
But if you want it to be something that they would never forget, why not appeal to not just ears, but eyes too?
You can use stage props or wear costumes to make it unforgettable.
One of the easiest acts that you can spot if you’re a rock’n’roll kind of gal or dude is GWAR, the barbaric warriors from another planet.
Aside from their costumes, they have followed the interplanetary warrior image for all the media they have put out and everything they do.
In fact they have become a buzz in the early 1990’s due to their theatrics during live performances and the fact that their audience are sprayed with fake blood, urine, and semen.
Up to this date even when the buzz about them has faded away, they still retained a cult following.
#2. WRITE SONGS THAT TELL YOUR STORY
There are a lot of music enthusiasts that love hearing songs that tell a story.
If you have an interesting one, do make a song that tells it. But you have to make sure the storytelling is still creative.
Use words that would help the listener’s mind imagine, appeal to the five senses if possible.
You can build your brand image around your song writing style.
Let’s take Taylor Swift for example, though unintentional, she has become a lyricist known for the songs she writes for her past boyfriends.
And so even if the song doesn’t really have a connection with any of her exes, many of her songs have become thought to be dedicated to one of them.
#3. INCORPORATE UNUSUAL INSTRUMENTS OR TUNINGS
If you have your own songs, try incorporating the not so usually used instruments or tunings on them.
This will help you create unique textures and sounds that may well become your signature music, and thus becomes a part of your image.
If you know a traditional instrument that is tied to your roots then why not add it into your songs. It would be another way of saying, “Hey I’m Chinese” or “Hey I’m part Latino”.
#4. DOCUMENT THE WHOLE PROCESS
If you’re comfortable with documenting yourself while writing your songs, composing music, recording it, and many more then please do so.
This is a good way to build that brand image you are aiming for. Show them that the image you are putting on is not a pretense but who you really are or a part of who you really are.
You can also document the behind the scenes of your music video shooting and photoshoots.
#5. HAVE QUALITY MERCHANDISE
Bear in mind that aside from your music, your merch also helps in the process of branding you.
And that’s because the quality of merchandise you offer people, speaks of your credibility too. If your merchandise is not as it is seen on your online shop or as described, then people will not trust you anymore.
Because of that they won’t trust the image you are pushing for.
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#6. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL COPYWRITER
If you are not confident with your writing skills then better hire a professional copywriter.
They will be the one to help you write your press releases. You can even have them write you a captivating bio.
#7. CONTACT A GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Don’t know what image to have yet?
Well then, try contacting a trusty graphic designer, preferably one that specializes in music.
They will be very helpful when you brainstorm what long-lasting brand image you want to have and what visuals would go with the music you have.
Additionally, they can help you create a logo that’s so very you.
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#8. SET UP A PINTEREST BOARD
During the planning and brainstorming process, it would be best to create a pinterest board where you add in images you like.
Look for a common ground among them and know which ones you want to include and those that you don’t.
This way you will have a better visual of what you might want.
#9. DON’T AVOID REBRANDING
And don’t avoid rebranding.
Yes, it’s hard and a big step to take but rebrandings are not to be afraid of.
They are another way to revive the lost vigor or a sign of new beginnings if you ever come across big obstacles.
As your career grows, your brand must grow with it. Remember that your branding is dynamic so don’t fear being locked in an image or leaving behind that image.
Branding is very important for a musician so we hope that this article has helped you understand its importance and what must be done to start the process.
It is a complex process, yes, but as long as you know what you want and have the will to do it, then I guarantee you that you will succeed.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.