What does branding have to do with you as a music artist? In a word: everything. Your brand extends far beyond the logos on your website or merchandise items. Branding is about awareness, both of yourself and the public’s mental positioning of you. Being aware of what you are subtly and unconsciously conveying to the public is key to controlling the magnetism of your brand. But before you can begin to develop brand awareness, you need to adhere to what are the 3 C’s of branding.
Be clear about who you are, and who you are not. You need to understand your unique promise of value, and how this sets you apart from others. This first step is critical because it forces you to see yourself as others do. Once you’ve made it clear about what you are all about, you will soon attract and build a more targeted fan base that will better resonate with you because you've taken a position.
You don't want to be all things to all people, especially when you're just starting out. You do want to be the leader a particular tribe based on what you believe individually, and thus express artistically. A good brand taps into emotions, and emotions drive most, if not all of our decisions.
So ask yourself:
“What makes me distinctive? And how do I communicate that?”
Remember to be authentic, and always true to yourself.
Clarity then extends to your logos, your social media topics, and even the diction you use when talking to your fans. Are you more formal and write in proper grammar, or are you more laid back and talk as though you are chatting or texting? Do you care about what’s going on in politics, or do live life more carefree?
Either way, try to choose a position and stick with it. Branding is all about trust, and if you constantly change what you're all about, people can become confused and eventually tune out.
Consistency is what gives the public faith in your abilities and your delivery. It creates expectations. Once you’ve taken a position, you need to remain consistent with it.
From a digital standpoint, all your web properties should be aligned with one another, and you want to make it perfectly clear that someone has arrived at your official web property. The branding elements from your website should fickle down to all your other web assets (such as your Facebook and Twitter) so that they are all consistent in look and feel. Think of your website as the mother ship, and all the other web and social assets as smaller ships conveying the bigger message.
Once you’ve defined who you are and what you’re all about on a consistent level, you want to ensure that you remain active in conveying this. This doesn't mean constantly bombarding fans with promotional messaging. What it does mean is being there on a constant basis to engage and interact with your audience, but only to the degree where you're not overwhelming them and also not leaving them out in the cold.
Fans want to interact with you, but they don't want to be spammed with how great you are or why they should spend money on you. Think of your web engagements as your own reality TV show or soap opera: if the story continues with regularly scheduled programming, people will tune in. They don’t, however, want to see commercials running the entire time.
Once you’ve employed these 3 C’s to your brand, you can begin positioning it. Once you've defined it, seek out all opportunities to better position your brand. Find those who will be most receptive to what it is that you have to offer and focus on them.
Building a brand takes a lot of time and effort but once you put in the work to build a good, consistent reputation, it will continue to pay dividends into the future.