5 essential music industry branding tips to consider, whether you’re a songwriter, budding indie label, or huge multinational organisation.
As branding guru Wally Ollins states, “the brand is profoundly significant to the value of the company.” It doesn’t matter if that company consists of one person or an entire workforce, having a strong brand that effectively communicates what you do is essential. Here are our top tips:
1. Understand the value you add
So you’ve (hopefully) got a great product in place – maybe you write fantastic music or represent those who do. The next step is to understand the value that you provide within the marketplace. What do you bring to the table that no one else can?
Understanding what makes you different not only helps to shape your brand, but also helps you to identify your target audience and differentiate yourself from competitors. Focus on understanding yourself, your uniqueness and your proposition.
2. Be authentic
Authenticity is so important, particularly in the creative industries. It’s all about telling a genuine, honest story about what you do that will actually mean something to someone. People gravitate towards authentic brands, particularly in saturated markets. One of the exciting things about working in independent music is capturing that independent spirit that consumers are so drawn to.
Don’t ever try to be what you’re not – your customers will expect you to live up to the brand you project. And celebrate your heritage, flaws and all. As Richard Branson says, “Too many companies want their brands to reflect some idealized, perfected image of themselves. As a consequence, their brands acquire no texture, no character.”
3. Be unique
Break through the sea of sameness by carving out your own distinctive identity. Treat your brand like a person – what does it stand for? What’s the brand’s personality? Likes / dislikes?
A lot of branding is generic with little or no substance – strive to show your individuality through your branding and think about what you can do both visually and verbally to distinguish yourself. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
4. Focus on community
The world’s most successful brands are focused on building and improving their communities. Social media, for example, is a great way of displaying your brand’s voice.
Focus on platforms relevant to your brand (don’t spread yourself too thin) and invest your time and resources there. Seek out the key influencers in your field, join discussions, create content, and engage with your audience. Having a strong community can elevate your brand and make it more accessible to new and existing customers.
5. Be consistent
Brand consistency is essential for reinforcing the identity of an organisation. It’s important to be consistent with your imagery and tone of voice in everything you do. The ultimate tool for maintaining brand consistency is a set of brand guidelines, otherwise known as a ‘brand book’.
Take the excerpts from Skype’s example below (full version here) – in your brand book you should include similar rules for logo usage, fonts and typography, colours, imagery, and tone of voice. Obviously this doesn’t have to be on the same scale as Skype, one or two pages will probably do. Once you’ve got this in place you can ensure that everything you do fully reflects your brand.
Excerpts from Skype’s brand guidelines:
Some resources to help you along the way:
– Paste Magazine’s ’10 of the best branded bands and musicians’
– Creative Bloq’s ’65 expert logo design tips’
– Creative Bloq’s ‘Typography rules and terms’
– design shack’s ‘How to Build a Brand Bible & Visual Style Guide’