Note: this article is preachy, peachy and motivational speechy.
Hey you! Yeah, I’m talking to you, the fabulous creative person reading this piece right now. When you wake up in the morning, are you excited about your brand?
“My brand?” you ask. “You mean my logo and colour palette?”
“No, no, no!” I reply. “A brand is everything you are!”
It’s okay. A lot of people, even business people can’t quite define what a brand is. Here’s a pretty solid definition I found for us artists reading:
“a brand is how people think and feel about your business.”
You probably already know that you as an artist are more than simply your streamable MP3s on SoundCloud. How you portray yourself as a creator of art is your brand. From the outfits you wear to photoshoots and onstage, the “voice” you use when writing social media posts, to yes, your logo and colour palette – everything that builds up who you are as an person you want fans to like is your brand. You absolutely want fans to think “wow, that artist is someone I want to follow on their journey.” The lens your fans see the world through when listening to your music, following you on social media, and experiencing you live at concerts is one that should represent your brand.
Now, there are many reasons why having a strong and distinguishable brand is important. I’ve boiled them down to three here:
To Stand Out
If you are in a crowded genre, you absolutely need to find a way to stand out. I’m talking to you, young rappers, country sweethearts or oh-my-gosh-no pop divas.
On the business side of the music industry, bloggers, podcasters, A&R and other industry folk who interact with up-and-coming artists receive boatloads of feature/attention requests every day. What makes you stand out? What makes them remember you at a conference when they’re back in the hotel room sorting through the day’s business cards? If they can easily connect the person they met, their personality and the business card, you’ve got good branding; and if you made a positive impression, your connection with them will prosper.
To Attract Super Fans
This goes back to standing out, but more on the fanbase side of things. With the rise of streaming, the average music listener isn’t as attached to their music collection as the curators who had to pay full-price for every album a few years ago were. So they’ll be studying, cooking or riding the bus and when they discover a cool new song they’d never heard before on a playlist, they’ll make a tap or two and look at your name and album cover art. If the image connects with the song, they’ll download the entire album, and look you up on Facebook and Instagram. After following you for a while, they’ll get used to and fall in love with your brand, and you’re slowly building a super fan.
I know this because it’s worked on me. I know for a matter of fact that the only way to get people to pay to own your music or to buy your merch off your website is to turn them into super fans. If an artist has a clear, distinct look and personality, those people who relate to them will become loyal super fans so much quicker.
To Charge More
Have you heard of those people who will drop $800 on a smartphone the day it come out because “dude, it’s the new iPhone!”? Apple knows a thing or 800 about their brand name, I’ll give them that.
When I say brand name, I’m not just referring to snobby designer clothing stores (you know the ones where their size XL is in any other store a size XXS). I’m trying to say that if you build a reputation for delivering quality, and that’s how people think and feel about what you do, you have the ability to charge more for your merch or gig rates.
Are You Excited About Your Brand?
So by now you know the importance of having a strong brand. I want to stress that more than that, you want to have one that lines up with your career goals. Ask yourself this: does my brand reflect what I’m all about as an artist? No matter where you are on your personal journey to defining your artistic brand, you need to be able to wake up and in the morning and be excited about what you’re doing.
Just like you being a musician because it’s who you are and you can’t be anything without music in your life, you figuring out how to present yourself for your fans to love is something that should make you happy and excited in the morning.