Branding is literally a music business essential. Why? Because it’s one of the important foundation stones regarding your communication.
And why is communication important? We live in a time where most things happen over the internet.
This is crazy, most people don’t even talk on the phone anymore. Messaging and Email have become the prime form of communication for a lot of people.
What is more, social media posts are nothing else than tiny communication packs. If you spend even just a couple of minutes on one of the social media platforms, you are bombarded by endless posts and adverts.
All fighting for your attention. Strong and unique branding can help you and your band or music industry company to stand out.
You might wonder, what exactly is branding and why do I need it in the music business? Branding is one of those words that sound more like a corporate business a la Microsoft or Apple.
However, it is also very much part of the music business. Here’s how you can do it properly and what mistake you need to avoid.
Strong branding can help you stand out
The first things you need to be clear about before you can start thinking about branding is your actual mission and vision. By all means, that might sound a bit far-fetched for a band or music business.
However, everyone has a mission that drives you to do what you are doing. Perhaps you really need to make this specific type of music.
Also, if you are working in an indie record label, your mission is probably to release music that otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance of being published.
Having a clear understanding of your mission can help you then formulate your vision. Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
What milestones do you want to reach with your company? Take some time and really figure something out that is unique to you and that makes you feel motivated and energised.
Perhaps even write it down and pin it to your notice board.
Do a proper target audience research and nail down your USP + storytelling
Target audience research is one of the things I keep nagging about. Simply for the fact that it gives so much valid information that it would be mad not to do it.
Knowing exactly who is your audience and who is the audience you want to gain gives you a clear pathway. In like manner, having a solid USP formulated can only help you.
Unique Selling Proposition is again one of those fancy words that don’t sound like the music industry. However, if you think about all the successful musicians or band, you can clearly see that they all have something unique to them.
Perhaps they can sing super well like Beyoncé. Being aware of what it is that makes you special is vital in selling your music to the fans.
After that, storytelling comes into place in order to deliver your message to the audience. Who are you and where do you come from in terms of your artistic expression? What is the story of your record label?
Don’t forget about your corporate design and visual identity
In the light of most things happening online, proper corporate design and visual identity are key. This is crazy, there are even jobs in the music business that only do that.
Creative directors manage the visual identity of a band or album release. In other words, the visual identity and corporate design consist of everything you can see.
Notably, all the profile pics and header images of social media platforms. But it doesn’t stop there. Also, everything from the look of YouTube videos to the advertising is part of the visual identity and corporate design.
However, if you don’t have the means to employ a creative director you have to arguably do the job yourself. In this case, it could a very good idea to make a style guide.
In fact, a style guide states anything from your font of choice to the colour scheme. Also, the correct logo and spelling should be noted.
You can even write down the tone of voice you want to use with examples. Do you rather want to sound playful or more intellectual?
Write it all down in your style guide. For once, it can really help you to use a coherent visual language yourself.
No matter if you post something on Instagram or write a newsletter. Always keep it in line with your style guide.
On the other hand side, it can really help to communicate with any third-party experts you might want to get on board. For example, if you employ a programmer in order to set up a website for you, it can be a really good idea to share your style guide first.
That way you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Visual identity and corporate design help you contextualising your music with images
Visual identity and corporate design help you contextualising your music with images. This is super important, today most of the music consumption happens online in streaming platforms like Spotify.
All in all hugely visual places. If someone new comes to your profile it has to be immediately clear visually what your music is all about.
There’s so much new music released every week, that there’s already a new phenomenon called ‘listening-anxiety‘. It refers to the anxiety people have to find ‘good’ new music that is worth their time.
In order to get people to listen to your music, you have to make sure that they overcome ‘listening-anxiety’. A coherent visual look can really help invite people to listen to your music.
Be disability-friendly in your branding
Being disability-friendly is an important ranking factor for search engine optimisation. However, it is also important for your branding.
If your band posts a lot of IGTV video’s, then it could be a very good idea to use subtitles. That way, all your fans can enjoy your content.
It is a very common miss-information that people with hearing difficulties don’t like music. Or that people who are visually impaired don’t like to go to the movies.
Being inclusive with your branding will help you a great deal!
Your branding needs to explain your rationale to the out-side user
For one thing, if you work in a record label, for example, you are very aware of what it is you are doing.
I.e. the music you are releasing and why you do that, for example. However, this is not the case for the outside user.
Your branding is here to close that gap and bridge the missing links. The same goes for bands and musicians.
The branding helps you carry the music along to the fans and gives them space to put your music into context.
This is hugely important to build up long time listeners. At the end of the day, having a thousand fans who are willing to spend 10 € on you will pay off more than having 10.000 listeners on Spotify.
Keep your branding straight forward
Lastly, be sure to keep your branding straight forward. If you are a band then keep your branding solely about the music.
Do you love to do yoga? Great, but keep it outside of your branding. Don’t confuse your audience with a multitude of messages.
Of course, once you are an established artist you can go and build up your branding. However, for the start try and keep it concise.