[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinksi.]
It can be frustrating building a career in music when there are so many pieces to the puzzle that need your focus, and all you’d rather be doing is making great music. Thankfully, with modern technology, you can have a bit of an easier time creating and managing the business side of your music career.
One of the most important (and first) steps of building your career is creating a solid brand that clearly communicates your message to an audience.
When it comes to designing your brand, I 120% recommend hiring a professional to design your logo, merchandise, and website. However, if you’re on an extremely tight budget, you can use these three websites to help you look your best as you build.
1. Image Color Picker – McDonald’s brand is best known for it’s red and yellow colors. But they don’t just use any red and yellow. They use Red #dd1021 and Yellow #ffc300. These are known as Hex color codes.
When you design your materials on and offline, it’s important to keep the same two or three colors in your images. We call this your color palette. You may have one or two main colors and then an accent color here and there. Consistency is important, as it builds familiarity with your audience.
You may wish to “re-brand” your color palette for each album you release, however if you’re focusing on only releasing singles, I recommend sticking to one overall brand. It doesn’t mean that every singles artwork has to look the same, but you’ll want your website and social media images to have a consistent palette.
Not sure what your color palette would be? That’s where Image Color Picker comes in! Simply take a photo that best represents you or your band (it could be from your latest professional photo shoot or an image online that incorporates colors that speak to you.
[Pro-tip: if you’re not sure what colors are best to represent your look/sound, check out this article on communicating through color from Help Scout.]
Once you have a photo or photos you like, simply go to the website’s homepage and upload them by clicking on the large green button in the center of the page. When the image uploads click on the area of the photo that has the hue you like best. The website will then give you a six-digit Hex code, as well as the RGB code, depending on what format of color codes you use.
Copy both numbers down and keep them in a safe spot so you can reference it whenever you need to design graphics or working with a designer. Repeat these steps until you have your full palette.
#2: My Fonts – Choosing your brand’s colors are important, but it’s only one piece of the pie. You’ll also want to brand your fonts. Mariah Carey, for instance, has used Friz Quadrata™ for all album titles, website headings and merchandise designs since her debut in 1990. Metallica uses a font many have called ‘Pastor of Muppets’ for their signature logo.
You’ll want a font for titles/headers, as well as one for body text. It’s best to choose a common font for your body text, such as Veranda or Tahoma, as many websites like WordPress and Mailchimp offer a limited selection when writing blog posts and newsletters.
If you have a customizable website, like WordPress.org, you will be able to upload your font files and set all headers and body text accordingly. Go to MyFonts.com and peruse around. You’ll be able to write your artist name in a text box and try out different fonts to see how it looks.
You may need to purchase the font files, but once you have determined what works best for your brand it’s worth it. Not sure which work best? Try a few you like, take screen shots of them, and then have your audience vote on which they like the most.
[pro-tip: Keep in mind that when your fonts are printed on business cards or used in thumbnail images you’ll still need to be able to read them, so stay away from anything that’s overly ornate.]
#3: Canva – Once you have your colors and fonts you’ll want to start designing. Canva is an incredible website that you can use for free to design blog post images, social media images, press releases, album artwork, and more.
Never struggle with a Twitter cover image again. The website offers pre-made templates for almost every social media image you can think of, as well as customizable dimensions for projects of your own. You can choose your brand palette by copying and pasting your color codes into it’s color section, allowing you to quickly and easily brand design elements that you choose for your images.
It also allows you to save your designs and download them as in .jpg, .png and .pdf formats. You can share your designs with others, allowing them to edit as needed, or post your designs online.
[Pro-tip: Try the professional version for one week free and upload your font files in that time. Once the trial is over you’ll still have access to the fonts you uploaded.]
It’s never too early to start branding your look and sound. Building familiarity with your audience is crucial and branding your colors and fonts can do a lot to help in that process – we are after all living in an image- and media-driven age and visuals matter. It also sends a message that you’re taking calculated steps in building your career, rather than doing everything haphazardly.
This may be rock ’n roll, but you’re still building a business.
Before you are at the level where you can hire a professional designer to create a customized look for your promotional materials you can start using these tools to get stared on communicating your message to your audience through design.
Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate