[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
What do you think of when you hear the word “branding”? Do you think of a stuffy corporate office with some guy pointing at a whiteboard full of facts and figures?
Do you picture some huge team strategizing around a conference table, figuring out what the next best move is to make the maximum impact?
For most of us, “branding” isn’t a word that we really use. Sure, we’ve heard it tossed around, and maybe we even know it’s important, but if we’re really honest with ourselves, we’re a long way from truly understanding what it means—and how to apply it to our own careers.
Branding doesn’t feel as urgent as say, booking your next show or recording your next song. It feels like something you can kind of push to the back of your mind (and your to-do list) and just let it sit there until you have more time to figure it out, (which will be never, because when do any of us ever really get to that particular to-do list?).
I’m here to tell you: you can’t sleep on this any longer. I get the urge to resist but believe me when I say that a solid brand is the foundation to absolutely everything you do as an artist.
If you’re struggling with keeping up on social media, knowing your brand will help. If you can’t seem to book shows, knowing your brand will help. If you constantly feel like you’re flailing around and being pulled in 20 directions, knowing your brand will help.
So here’s the short of it—branding is a crucial step and if you don’t do it now, your career will continue to suffer. Simple as that. Ready to dive in and learn how to find your own brand?
Start With Why
Before you do anything, watch this TED Talk by Simon Sinek (embedded below). It changed my life the first time I watched it, and it’s continued to change it every time since. If you’re struggling to even understand the concept of a brand and how it applies to you, this will offer a lot of clarity.
For now, the one thing you need to remember is my favorite quote from the talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Next, you want to start to figure out your own why. Remember, your why isn’t “to make more money” or “to sign to a label” those are just results. Dig deeper—why do you continue to get up each morning and fight for a career in one of the toughest industries? What fuels you?
Knowing your why is such a crucial step to building your brand, and honestly, everything else including what shows to book, what kind of merch to create, and what photos to post online, so don’t skip this step.
Create Case Studies
Odds are, right now you’re still struggling with how to identify your brand and settle on a theme, and that’s OK! One of the most powerful ways to hone in on your brand is to identify other artists’ brands.
I want you to spend the next 20 minutes or so scrolling through your feed and identifying what jumps out at you. Pay attention and write it down. Start to notice certain themes. i.e.: Do all the photos have the same aesthetic? Are all the captions talking about the same thing? This is the start of figuring out what naturally appeals to you (your brand) and how to make it your own.
Likewise, think of some of your favorite artists and start to pay attention to their brand and what you like about them. Every major artist has a carefully curated brand that’s alive and well in everything from their press photos to their music videos to their live shows. Once you start paying attention, you’ll start finding inspiration.
Don’t be afraid to play around with it
Settling on your brand isn’t a one and done thing. You don’t need to stick with the same brand for 10 years—just look at Taylor Swift. How many times has her image changed and still her fans continue to follow her every move.
Identifying your brand and playing around with it to see what works, what excites you, and even what you end up wanting to ditch, is all an important part of the process. Picking what your brand is today doesn’t mean deciding what it is in five years, so take the pressure off yourself and just have fun with it.
We’re just getting started! If you’re looking for even more tips on branding and increasing fan engagement then join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.