As an emerging musician, artist branding is essential. Of course, you need to make good music to start with. But as Steve Jobs once said, “packaging can create a story”.
And when it comes to artist branding, the “packaging” refers to all the different ways you present yourself to your audience. Logo, colors, tone of voice… All these elements will contribute to creating a story around your music.
In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about artist branding! Ready? Let’s dive in 👇
1. What is Branding?
Before we dive any deeper, let’s explore what branding actually is. We all have an intuition of what brands are. But giving a precise definition is a bit harder.
A brand is defined as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s good or service from those of other sellers” (Wikipedia).
By extension, the components of a “branding” strategy include product design, brand identity, communication style, and “any other technique that aims to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers”.
While we often think of branding in the context of companies, the truth is that all these concepts are applicable to a musical project. A band’s logo, the way they communicate with their fans, the type of photos they post on Instagram… All these elements contribute to an artist’s branding.
Is your music ready to be released? Then it’s time to prepare your promotion strategy! The best way to do this is to contact playlist curators, radio stations, media outlets, record labels...
With Groover, you can contact curators and music professionals that precisely match your song 👇
2. First: Define What your Brand Stands For
In the intro, we mentioned that your artist branding will convey a story around your music. So, ask yourself this question: what is the story you want to tell?
What does your musical project stand for? Do you aim to bring joy and love to your listeners? Or is your music dark and introspective? Or maybe it’s light and not meant to be taken too seriously?
Whatever the case may be, you need to define a few keywords that your music project stands for. Of course, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Your brand is closely tied to the music you make. If you’re not sure how to position your brand, ask some friends how they would describe your music. Use those words as a springboard to develop your brand image.
Once you have a few words to describe your music, it’s time to move on to the actual branding.
3. Build your Visual Identity
The most obvious part of any brand is its logo. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Apple… When you think of those brands, you immediately have an image that springs to mind.
The goal should be the same with your music. When people hear your band or artist name, they should immediately have an image in mind.
As an artist, you can either develop your own logo, or use a picture of yourself or your band. In both cases, your visual identity should communicate the words you’ve identified in Step #1.
Let’s look at two examples. When Skrillex burst onto the scene in 2010, his music could be qualified of “extreme”, “chaotic” and even “futuristic”. At the time, this was the logo he was using:
We can clearly see how this logo is a perfect encapsulation of his music.
Another example we can look at is the band The National. The National are known for their classy, elegant and serious style of indie rock. When we look at their band pictures, we see them all dressed in black, and rarely smiling:
Once you settle on a logo or picture, make sure to use it consistently across all your social media channels. This includes Facebook and Instagram, but also platforms like Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music. The goal is to become immediately recognizable.
However, your visual identity goes beyond just your logo. Take a look at the Instagram account of House producer Oliver Schories:
With the black-and-white filter, there is a deliberate choice here to convey a sober and serious image. When defining your visual identity, think about the colors you use, as well as the typography. All these choices should reinforce the words that you defined in Step #1.
4. Choose your Tone of Voice
“Tone of voice” is a marketing term that defines the language in which a company expresses itself. This includes not only the words it uses, but also the way it speaks to its customers.
In the context of artist branding, your tone of voice also covers how you communicate with your listeners. How do you express yourself on your social channels? Is it funny and jokey? Or serious and mysterious?
If we look at Fred Again, one of the most popular electronic artists currently, his communication style is very distinctive:
We could qualify this style of communication as “excited”, “raw” and “unfiltered”. This tone of voice contributes to making Fred Again a very relatable artist, and someone people connect with.
When thinking about your tone of voice, think about how you communicate naturally.
For example, Billie Eilish rarely writes any captions on her Instagram posts. However, she will post a lot of random photographs that convey her universe.
Do you prefer posting pictures and short captions on Instagram? Or do you prefer long debates on Twitter? The more natural your tone of voice, the easier it will be to keep it up. Don’t pick any tone of voice just because you think it’s cool. Pick something that matches your own personality. This will make it easier to stay consistent.
5. What’s the Bottom Line
The truth is, people want to connect with a person, not just an artist. And the more they know about you, the more they will connect with you. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to share every aspect of your personal life on social media. But the more you communicate with your audience, the more they will connect with you and your music.
A great concept popularized by Gary Vee is “Document vs. Create”. The idea is to focus more of your time on documenting your journey instead of the creation phase.
Instead of posting just once to Instagram when your song is out, document the journey of creating the song. Post behind-the-scenes pictures, videos of recording sessions, extracts of the song as it evolves etc. This will help your audience connect with you on a more personal level.
That’s It for This Guide on Artist Branding!
This wraps up our guide on artist branding! Hopefully we were able to give you some guidelines to start thinking about your own artist branding.
Ready to share your music with playlists, radio stations and people of the music industry? Let’s go 👇
What are the most important elements of an artist’s brand in your opinion? Let us know in the comments down below 👇