Step 1: Defining your Brand

According to Wikipedia, “a brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business.  A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan. The word branding began simply as a way to tell one person's cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity - it affects the personality of a product, company or service.” So, in essence your brand sets you apart from the rest.

Mainstream artists with record deals have marketing people to handle their branding for them.  But as an independent musician, you have to figure it all out on your own, unless you hire someone yourself, of course.  If not, it’s easy to do, really.  It just takes time.  What I’ve done for myself is I’ve taken a DIY approach to branding and I’ve come up with three steps to launching or in some cases re-launch/re-defining a brand.  In this segment, I will start with the first step… definition.

When it comes to building a brand, the first step is to fully understand who you are as a musician.  This will help you define your brand.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why did you become a musician? What is the overall theme of your music? What is the purpose of your music? What are your passions? When people look at you and hear your music, what do you want them to feel? What do you want them to think?

Once you have all these questions answered, you can begin to build a brand.  Figure out a way to incorporate these concepts into your packaging and presentation.  One example that comes to mind to illustrate this is India.Arie.  Her music, her demeanor, the way she dresses, her website, her photos, and everything she is sums up her brand:  A soul princess who embraces her roots.  Your answers to the above questions must encompass everything you do and everything you are.  How you dress, how you take pictures, how you design your website, how you design your logo (if you have one), how you conduct your shows, how your merchandise is designed, what merchandise you sell, is all a part of your brand.

To further assist in creating your brand, look at other successful artists in your genre and copy them.  Hey, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel if it’s already invented and working, right?  Who do you most sound like and what does their brand look like?  Go to some of their shows, and take notes.  Observe their stage presence, the way they dress, and how they interact with the audience.  This will help you craft something extraordinaire and before you know it, people will start to ask you for branding advice.

Stay tuned for the second component to branding, which I will cover next week…

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• The art of Branding