One of the cold, hard facts about the music biz is that no matter how good a musical artist you are, having a successful public career is not just about your music, but also about your public image–your brand. In other words–how you are perceived by the public.
I’m not talking about getting all phobic about what people think of you (most of us do that pretty naturally on our own, thankyouverymuch). What I mean is that a public performer has a public image, a persona associated with his/her music. That, in essence, is part of your brand as an artist–and getting your music “out there” also involves getting your brand “out there.” So let’s talk about some basics to get an understanding of image and branding.
Let’s start with an analogy…how many of you have a Facebook account? (Hands up all over the place.) Okay…you know that little profile picture that appears next to everything you say and do on Facebook? That, in the most primitive sense, is a type of branding. It associates a single consistent visual to all your activity. You might change that picture from time to time, but it still is a micro-representation of you, and what you’re doing on Facebook. And when you change your profile pic, it instantly changes on all your previous activity as well, to keep things consistent.
And that’s the idea behind image and branding: consistency. We’re not talking about good girl/bad girl type of image here (not in this post, anyway); we’re talking about putting forward a consistent public image, so people can easily associate and remember you over time.
Now, your overall brand as a musical artist is obviously a bit more complex than a Facebook profile pic. It has to do with all elements of your public presentation: logos, fonts, album art, merchandise, your appearance, and the overall feel that is presented with all of these elements. All of it is part of branding. For that reason, it’s good to remember that a good brand is not simply created–it is developed. The more consistently you develop your brand, the easier it is for the public to identify you. Make sense?
Now let’s get down to some specific tips about developing your image and brand:
- Decide on an overall visual “look” for your band’s public info–including colors, fonts, etc.–and begin to pattern around it. Website design, flyers, press material, album art, etc. should all start bearing that consistent look. You might want to enlist the help of a graphic artist to design a look that matches your band’s personality.
- Choose fonts and colors that best reflect the overall theme and feel for your act. (HINT: If your music style is pop/rock, a font named “Gothic Horror” is probably not going to convey the right idea about you.)
- If your band has a logo, begin putting it on anything and everything that has to do with your band. Make it your aim that when people see that logo, they know it’s you whether or not your band name is with it.
- Register your stage name and/or logo as a trademark. This ensures that no one else can use your name. (It also lets you know if someone else already has your trade name, so you don’t get sued down the road.)
A final thought about image and branding–whatever you begin developing as your public persona, make sure it’s real–make sure you’re putting your true self into it. Don’t let your public image be a character you play that doesn’t reflect who you really are. That might work for awhile, but fake public personas are very difficult to maintain for the long haul–the burden becomes too heavy after awhile. It’s better to be honest, and let your public image be a reasonable reflection of who you are, as a person and as a musician.