To all our musician friends out there, we have a question for you – what is your brand? We’re not talking about your musical style, or the name of your band, or even the make of your favourite guitar; we’re talking about how all the elements of your performance and marketing come together to create your unique signature.
Musicians need a brand because, just like a business, they are trying to sell a product. Except in this case, the product is music. You might argue that your music “stands on its own” and that “it’s all about the sound, not the look”, but successful artists understand that you need more than just a great hook or stunning voice to attract an audience.
There’s no right or wrong way to build your musical brand. What’s important is making sure there is a cohesive story running across a number of elements. Here are some bits and pieces to get you thinking…
Define your genre
When people ask what kind of music you play, what they’re really asking is: “Would I want to listen to this music?” Even if you think your style is completely ground-breaking, try to give it a name. Alt-Punk-Pop. Rockabilly-Opera. Whatever. Having a genre in mind means you can start to think about the kind of people who will listen to your music (your customers). It could be quite a diverse range of people, but there are probably some things that appeal to, say, country fans that would put off someone who only listens to K-pop.
Once you know the audience you want to appeal to, you can start to build out your brand elements.
Get the look
What you wear on stage tells a story, so it’s important that you know what your overall look is saying. Just like actors use costumes to indicate character, your performance look should tell your audience something about your style and personality. You don’t have to be super literal, but choosing items that speak to your aesthetic helps people who haven’t seen you perform before interpret your music.
Signature looks can be something as simple as a particular coloured eye-liner, or a certain pair of shoes. You don’t have to go the full Kiss make-up or Gaga meat dress to make a statement.
Whatever your signature, the secret is consistency.
For example, Peta’s musical style is ‘alt-country’. Her signature look is a kimono and cowboy boots. The boots resonate with country fans, while the kimono represents her creative personality and speaks subtly to the multiple layers of her musical style. Consistency is the secret. Repeat your signature look at all your performances. Give your audience something to hook on to.
Social media is a really important part of a musician’s marketing strategy. Which means it is also a crucial platform for sharing your brand. But you need to do more than just promoting your latest release, or posting the odd photos of your gigs or your bandmates. Think about things like colour-scheme, filters and photography style. How do your images work together as a group? What personality can you show in your captions? Consider sharing anecdotes or ‘behind the scenes’ stories that give your audience an insight into your musical practise. And don’t be afraid to share your inspiration – images of a place, a person or pet, or even a quote are a great way to introduce variety into your feed.
Cover it up
There’s an old saying about not judging a book by its cover, but we’re here to tell you that everyone does. And they’ll judge your music on the cover art, too. Think about who is listening to your music. What are they interested in or inspired by? What turns them off? A good single or album cover should standalone as a piece of art, as well as give a nod to the style of the artist or song. Even covers that feature a portrait of the artist have been designed for a specific purpose, be it introducing a new singer, highlighting a new creative direction or simply showcasing the artist’s personality.
Make your mark
While you’re thinking about visual marketing, you might also want to consider introducing a wordmark for you/your band. A wordmark is essentially a logo that incorporates your name. A wordmark helps people to easily recognise you, particularly if you are listed on a poster alongside other performers. It is also a great way to instil your brand values in the minds of your fans.
For example, do a quick Google search for the artist Pink. You’ll probably notice her name written as both Pink and P!nk. The latter is an interpretation of her iconic wordmark, in which she replaced the ‘i’ with an exclamation point. Although her wordmark has changed over time, it still speaks to her personality and attitude and is instantly recognisable.
We hope this has provided you with some food for thought, and, of course, if you do want to get started on your own musical brand, you know where to find us!