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You’re working harder than ever making music, but there seems to be a disconnect with the audience you’re trying to attract.
Usually, this disconnect emerges when artists neglect the importance of branding. If you aspire to grow your fanbase, your branding will be crucial in helping you cultivate a strong following.
However, nurturing your personal brand will be a continuous and creative process–not a quick fix. In this article, we will walk you through the importance of branding yourself as a musician.
The goal is to have you start thinking about what your individual brand will look like before you begin the process of actually creating it.
What is “Branding”?
Branding is all around us in the messages we receive, which is why it might sound like such a buzzword.
The literal definition of branding that can be found in an Oxford dictionary is: “the promotion of a product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.”
But as an artist, you can just think of branding as solidifying what you want to be known for.
It is the process by which you, as a musician, communicate yourself to your audience.
Your brand, if designed purposefully, does many things for you, such as:
- Sends a specific message to your audience
- Quickly communicates what makes you memorable
- Distinguishes you from other artists
- Allows your target audience and loyal fans to connect with you
While the idea of branding is quite common, there are some misconceptions about the term.
Branding is not just an Instagram page, paid advertising, or even a logo–it encompasses way more than that.
Brand vs. Logo
Logos are sometimes used interchangeably with the word brand. Although logos visually signify a company, artist, or band, etc., they are only considered a single element of your “brand.”
The term “brand” once referred to the mark that ranchers “branded” on their cattle. Obviously, the idea of branding has evolved into far more than a name or symbol.
In your case, you’re essentially slapping your brand on the butt of your music career to show everyone it’s yours.
Either way, your brand will become a representation of you, so defining it is a crucial first step to choosing your vibe, look, and yes–even your sound.
It is how you set yourself apart from other musicians every time prospective fans open an app, and it is essential in helping you grow a loyal fanbase.
As such, your brand needs to be cultivated like any other element of your art. In many ways, it is just as vital as your music.
You should take the time to get it right, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re writing anything in stone. Know that your branding can evolve with your style and music as time goes on; it can even change with every album you release.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises over 400 companies now, famously stated: “Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual reinvention, striking chords with people to stir their emotions and commitment to imagination.”
Branson’s words about commitment are critical to musicians.
Your brand doesn’t always have to stay the same to be consistent–in fact, it shouldn’t! However, your branding moves must be deliberate, precise, and committed, even if they’re always evolving.
Related Reading: How to Build a Brand As A Musician That People Will Love
Why is branding the be-all-end-all?
A well thought out brand is vital to your career’s success; taking control of your branding helps you to do the following:
As a musician, you’re playing in an attention economy with constant sponsored interruptions that are competing for everyone’s time.
So, your job is to play a note so clear, it cuts through all the noise–metaphorically and maybe literally, too.
Your brand, alongside your music, makes you irreplaceable in the eyes and ears of your fans.
A great example of this is the Grateful Dead. They were marketing geniuses as they arose out of anti-materialism counter-culture, and Deadheads remain a loyal and sizeable crowd.
Their brand, built on dedication to psychedelic improvisation, stood the test of time.
How will you create this kind of brand recognition for yourself? What aspect of your personality, style, or sound will help you cut through the noise?
Drake is an excellent example of creating trust through branding.
Drake created a brand centered on his connection with Toronto, creating a city of loyal fans.
His music and other content circles back to him spending time in his hometown and giving back to the city that raised him. This makes Toronto fans feel unique and seen, encouraging them to pay that love back.
The strongest brands are those that are genuine; that’s how you invite genuine support. So it’s essential to think about the different aspects of your identity.
Past, present, or future–that you want to emphasize in your storytelling and branding.
Your fans can tell when you’re being authentic and that mutual trust will pay off time and time again.
Related Reading: How To Build A Fanbase For Your Music Through Branding
Related Reading: Music Branding Tips: 4 Elements of a Strong Compelling Brand (Miley Cyrus Case Study)
Advertising is only a single element of your branding.
Without a strong brand, most of your marketing efforts will suffer because there’s a lack of consistency.
Spending hard-earned money on ads will only get you so far if you confuse your audience and potential fans with mixed messaging.
British advertising tycoon David Ogilvy stated: “Every advertisement should be thought of as contributing to the complex symbol which is the brand image.”
Before you begin designing and paying for ad campaigns, it is wise to have a strong idea of the kind of fan you are trying to attract and a plan for how you will grab their attention.
Builds Financial Worth
One way branding builds financial worth is through reciprocity. If you want to create value for yourself, you have to first create value for others.
Branding also helps you get more strategic about the content you share to be confident that it resonates with your fans.
Furthermore, your brand can hold value, like equity in a house, meaning that others will want to be associated with you because of the power and value your brand brings.
We think the tweet below on Travis Scott and the brand he has built sums this all up perfectly:
attracts other talent
This category is two-pronged.
First, a strong brand attracts future members of your team. Presenting your values and goals to the world through your brand brings in like-minded individuals who share your vision.
Second, having a compelling brand paves the way for collaborations. Similar to the idea of financial worth, your brand holds value, and other artists might want to be apart of and tap into the brand you’ve created to help their own careers. Collaboration is essential, but not everyone will want to associate with you if your brand doesn’t align with their vision.
An interesting example of this is Bhad Bhabie and Billie Eilish’s friendship. I know, I know… Teenage drama…Not our style, but bear with us for a second here.
As the story goes, these two became very close friends but seemed to have a falling out that soured the relationship.
As Bhad Bhabie puts it, “I just feel like either someone got into her ear about me and made her think that I was a bad person or she was getting too big to where she didn’t want to associate herself with my brand. And that’s perfectly fine, I understand that, but it sucks to have a friend and they just disappear. But I’m not mad at her. She’s not mad at me. It is what it is.”
While this is all speculation, it makes a lot of sense considering all the controversy surrounding Bhad Bhabie. This is why you, as an artist, have to be clear on who you are and what you’re about. If you don’t, your brand can take on a life of its own.
Furthermore, your branding can say so much about you without you even saying anything at all.
attracts new fans
People will naturally gravitate towards you when you project a strong sense of self, especially if it feels relevant to them and what they’re going through. Your brand makes people feel, think, and act in a way that they can appreciate, which will bring them to your platforms the first time, and then back again and again.
Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur, and author wrote:
“A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
When there are so many kinds of music and ways to access it, you need to make your potential fans feel something they can’t scroll past.
What feeling do you want audiences to get when they hear your music, see your style, and experience your vibe? How will you communicate that to new fans?
Related Reading: Finding Your 1000 True Fans For Musicians – Build Your Tribe
Final Thoughts On The Importance of Branding Yourself as A Musician
In short, branding is the way you present to the world–it is your aesthetic, logo, and music, all wrapped into one. Spending time getting your branding right as an emerging artist is worth your while to help you better communicate with your audience and grow your fanbase.
If you only learned two things from this article, here’s what you should remember:
- A brand is how musicians (and companies, etc.) communicate their stories to potential fans (clients).
- You’ll need a well-defined brand to attract fans, other talent, and funds.
In the next few days, ask yourself these questions about the brands you see on Instagram, billboards, and the places you shop:
- What is the owner of that brand trying to communicate?
- Who is their target audience?
- What do you like about it? What do you dislike?
Keep track of these observations; they will be useful for crafting your own brand identity.
Music With Flavor Staff
Helping You Taste Success In Music