Branding. It’s one of those words we hear tossed around a lot, but no one ever really takes the time to explain what it means.
So let’s start there.
In a nutshell, branding is what you think of when you think about your favorite artist or product. Likewise, when you think of your favorite artist, a certain feeling and aesthetic probably come to mind. You can picture their fashion, the mood and lighting at their shows, the feel of their music, how it makes you feel. That’s branding.
When done well, branding isn’t something your audience should ever really notice. It shouldn’t stand out or draw attention to itself. It should just attract your target audience and slowly but surely you should see your engagement and interaction go up.
Branding done right is an incredible way to get in front of more of the people who naturally like what you have to offer, and to create a strong, lasting bond that can lead to a more engaged fan base, higher live show turnout, and merch sales. It’s not always easy to narrow in on your brand, but it is essential to a lasting career so whatever you do, don’t skip out on this article!
Step 1: Study the bands you love
If you’re having trouble visualizing what exactly all of this looks like, take a peek at what your favorite bands are doing. Study their social media, read their interviews, and take in their live show. (If you’ve never seen them live, watch a performance online.) Eventually, you’ll start to see the same theme and patterns appear. That’s their brand.
Step 2: Get to the core of why you do what you do
Everyone has a “why.” Dig deep to get clear on why it is you do what you do. Quick note—answers like “for the money” or “for fame” or “for the accolades” don’t count. Those are all a result of the work, but they aren’t the driving force.
Figuring out your why isn’t easy, but the process is simple.
Think about what it is you (or your band) all care most deeply about. What is it you were after when you started this band? Was it just to hang out and have fun? Then maybe your message, your brand, what you really care about more than anything is friendship and camaraderie. Did you start the band because you had gone through a deep depression and wanted others to feel less alone? Then maybe your brand is connection. Pay attention to what feels right and what clicks.
Step 3: Create your elevator pitch
One way to find out really quickly if you’ve nailed down your brand is to try to write out an elevator pitch. You know, that thing where you should be able to say in just 1-2 sentences very concisely who you are and what you do, in a way that sells the listener and leaves them wanting more.
For example “We are Band Name and we make ear-shattering, horror-inspired sounds that’ll send chills down your spine.”
Not going to forget them are you?
Try writing yours down—if you’re having trouble verbalizing who you are and why anyone should care, you may need to revisit step number 2.
Step 4: Put it into action
Once you’ve nailed down your brand, it’s time to think about how you’re going to convey that to the world. Don’t worry, eventually this will become second nature but for now, you want to start to think about how to make sure you’re conveying your brand through:
- Press photos
- Social media posts
- Your bio (learn how to write a great one here)
- Your live show (what you wear, what your stage presence is like, what’s on your merch table)
That’s just a sampling of some of the main areas you’ll want to focus on. So, if you’ve decided your brand is all about just having fun and partying and the party lifestyle is what you want to convey, then your press photos are going to show you and the band having tons of fun, goofing around, laughing, smiling, you’ll probably have a lot of colors in those photos…all things to signify fun.
Then, you’d want to make sure your social media wasn’t just about your music (it should never just be about your music) but instead includes behind the scenes photos of you guys being silly, or celebrating, or different articles that show the things you believe in that relate to the party life (like a funny article on a party bus gone wrong), etc.
And your live show would probably include a lot of on-stage antics and banter, a distinct clothing style, and so on.
See where I’m going with this? Start small with things like your press photos and your bio, and then work your way into more branded social media posts, live shows, and everything in between.
Although it can take a little bit of time and experimentation to get your brand just right, trust me when I say it’s a game-changer. Once you know who you are, the message you’re trying to convey, and the audience you’re after, everything else will become so much easier, because your brand will inform everything you do. So you won’t have to wonder what to post on social media anymore because you’ll clearly know if something is aligned to your brand. You won’t wonder which sponsorships to go after because you’ll know if they make sense for your brand and audience.
Take the time to do this right the first time and I promise, it’s going to make everything flow so much easier.