Written for Fans for Bands.
The term “Branding” gets thrown about along a lot when it comes to the music industry. Along with terms like, “content” and “networking” and it can feel like a once creative industry has now been sullied by corporate vocabulary and marketing strategies.
In reality, branding has been embedded within music way before The Beatles wore grey suits or Jazz bands wore bow ties. The look of an act conveys the feel of an act and when people feel; they’re invested. Whilst you might throw a paddy from time to time because you just want to write bangers while somebody else handles the “boring stuff” the truth is that branding is just as important IF NOT MORE than your music. When people spot your dodgy logo on a poster or some dubious Catfish account – looking “Promo Pic” remember that this is why people want to listen to you.
Your branding is your introduction to potential fans, get it right and do it fast. Show them your serious and worth checking out. To quote Marshall Mathers, “if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it or just let it slip?” You have multiple ways to provide little pieces of content that people can subtly digest in order to fall in love with the art you make, don’t waste that chance by half arsing your cover photo or album artwork because you “just want to play Bass”. If you want to build your audience, you don’t have a choice. Get your branding looking good and you will have people excited to listen to your music, simple.
How to get your branding on point:
Organize your time
First off, this doesn’t have to be the “boring” part of playing music. Your creative people, so make this creative! Switch mindsets and prioritize your free time between 50% working on your music and 50% working on your brand. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months with your music and work backwards. Do you want 1000 Facebook likes on your page by Christmas? Get more Spotify plays? Headline your first show? These require fans of your music, and you can capture them by making a lasting impression from your branding. Set targets and deadlines and stick to them!
Identify your target audience
As an artist you usually want your art to be inclusive for anyone who enjoys it. However, if you’re a bunch of 19-year olds in a Pop Punk bands singing about your hometown, chances are that 50 year old Karen isn’t going to turn off Loose Women in order to pick up some of your fresh merch from the “Tie Dye Skateboard Collection”
Use tools such as the Spotify Artist App the Facebook Insights on your page to measure your audience and stats. From age and gender to the interactions on individual posts, you can tailor your branding to fit your audience in order to increase your reach and see what’s working and most importantly, what isn’t.
Get a professional logo
You don’t have to break the bank in order to get a strong, identifiable logo. You also don’t have to resort to MS Paint in order to create something if you don’t have much of a budget. Use Facebook groups to network with young designers and ask if they have any sample designs you can use or a “Pay What You Feel” option with some of their work.
Remember, you’re after something you might want on merch as well as posters, pictures, videos ect… Try and get something that is clear and recognisable. This will be your religious symbol, something that you want people to connect too every time they see it. By collaborating, you get artwork you can be proud of and you have helped another budding artist along the way; splendid!
Pick themes and stick to them
From outfits to fonts to colour pallets, these all structure your brand and connect with your audience to ensure that you make an impact on them. Once you have identified your genre and target audience, it’s time to study your favourite bands and study their artwork and how they also embody the same themes across everything, from social media to the stage show.
Most importantly, keep it CONSISTENT. It helps to update all of your socials at the same time so that people can find you and get the same positive impression of you whatever they happen to stumble across. This helps reinforce your brand and whatever your promoting (new tour, single, EP ect..) as your audience are flooded by engaging artwork and your products all over various platforms.
Email address & web links
Get a simple, clear professional email address. So much is done via email and by taking two minutes to get a clear firstname.lastname@example.org you also get access to google drive for song demos, videos, pictures, a Youtube account, a shared calendar and more.
Regardless of all of the handy features it has for your band, a clear email address, or better yet a personalised address, is far more inviting to potential promoters, PR, press or fans that wish to get in touch directly. Same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ect.. Keep to one or two (if needed) handle names in order for people to find you easily and become ingulfed in your world.
Get professional photos taken and use them well!
Pictures are the number one way to convey your brand and grab potential interest by the throat within Nano seconds. Likewise, you can repel that interest just as quickly with some nasty old, grainy looking, forced possess that feature all of the band members holding their instruments, against a brick all or some other corny cliché.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, just look at your chosen artwork and themes and build upon it. Pick an interesting location, use your small budget to hire a professional if possible or try and network with a budding photographer or friend. Alternatively, maybe somebody in the band has a decent SLR and a timer so you can all use this opportunity get a bunch of HD pics. This reveals a little bit more of your personality to potential fans.
One you have a few decent shots, think about how you’re going to use them! Believe it or not, people who care about your music, get value form seeing your mush looking suave and dare we say it? Professional… Use one shot for all profile pictures, one for a tour poster, one for that important announcement ect… And stockpile a bunch for those quiet weeks in between shows when you just need to remind people that your still alive and you are still a professional band.
Along with this comes videos, both music and live, tour footage, Facebook and Instagram Live, vlogs ect… All have their individual uses in order to advertise your brand. From a 10 second shot of your most mental gig to promote your tour, to a 20 minuet Q + A Facebook live session, all of these take your brand directly to your audience and help build that connection from their phone, to yours.
USE YOUR COVER VIDEO! For some reason, bands still aren’t getting it? The cover video, rather than a cover photo, lives at the top of your page and is the first thing that loads when somebody views your music page. Use this! Trim your music video, make a montage of your HD live footage, create an advert for your new EP. It doesn’t matter what it is, don’t waste this perfect opportunity to shove that thing you’ve made into people’s eyes and give them a reason to care.
Music & live show
It’s not rocket science, take to the stage and bring your brand to life. Look like you do in your pictures and bring the same energy you convey in your videos. If your audience don’t get the same product they fell for online, they might leave disappointed and ready to erase you from their memory. Learn from your influences and create the best live show you possibly can. Subconsciously, your branding is built into your lyrics and chords to your on-stage banter with the crowd, let your personality shine through on stage give your audience what they expect; and more.
Kendrick Lamar doesn’t wear a skin-tight leopard print vest and scream at the crowd if they “want some more” as if he was in Van Halen in 1988. He brings his brand to life on stage. A live representation of his music, videos and overall, his story. His brand is why people are packing out arenas because they identify and care about this message. Use your brand to connect with your audience and show the world what you’ve got to offer.