Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.
Issue link: http://berkleetoday.epubxp.com/i/731640
24 Berklee today Defining Your Brand Identity By Bobby Borg '88 When many musicians focus on promoting their careers, they often think about certain tasks such as creating YouTube videos, post- ing profiles on social media sites, and build- ing personal websites. But without first thinking long and hard about what you are trying to communicate to your target audi- ence, these actions may yield few meaningful results. Properly interpreting and defining a brand identity is crucial to the contemporary musician's career. What follows is an overview of how you can start to construct your brand identity. It may also help to polish up the brand you have already developed. I'll also detail brief case studies of three artists who effectively con- vey their brands to their fans. The Process and Benefits of Branding Interpreting and defining your brand iden- tity involves thinking clearly about the image that best resonates with your target fans, making decisions about important elements (such as your genre, name, logo, personality, looks, and product packaging), and then con- veying one consistent, honest, and believable message in all your marketing communica- tions. A company brand represents a prom- ise to fans—it's what they come to trust and expect from your organization every time they come in contact with you. In essence, a brand is what people say about you when you aren't in the room. Defining this identity can project the image you intended in the minds of the fans, present to them a culture that mirrors their own values and culture, win over passionate customers who become your brand ambas- sadors, create a special position in your fans' minds that differentiates you from the com- petition, and increases your company's value and equity in the future. With a clear brand identity, your market- ing messages will be more engaging and persuasive, and they will inform your target audience that you stand for something clear and unique. This is the essence of smart pro- motion, building awareness, and, ultimately, making healthy sales. Always remember: the clearer the communication, the greater the remuneration. Everything you do can affect the way your customers perceive you—from the identity you put forth in your musical style, name, logo, and slogans, to your personality, look, culture, and associations with other compa- nies. Without a clear brand identity, you can become lost in the marketplace, like a tree without roots, reaching out in several dif- ferent directions but without a firm hold on solid ground. You'll appear unpredictable— which customers recognize easily and use as a reason to withdraw their allegiance from you, or never to pledge their allegiance in the first place. Creating a Brand Identity To begin building a strong company brand and increase your promotional effectiveness, answer the following eight questions and make adjustments to your career as you see necessary. • Do your songs have a cohesive style that can be readily categorized as rap, country, rock, pop, reggae, or some combination of recognizable styles? • Do your lyrics communicate a coherent mes- sage that can be summarized in a few words such as world peace, civil rights, life in the hood, having fun, etc.? • Does your band name project the vibe of your music and lyrics, and can you explain the meaning behind that name concisely? For ex- ample, Marilyn Manson combined the names of movie star Marilyn Monroe and jailed murderer Charles Manson to reinforce the artist's glam- metal sound. • Do the fonts, colors, and images associated with your logo set a consistent recongizable mood? Pink uses a bold typeface and pink colors in her logo to convey her femininity and strong per- sonality. Mariah Carey displays her name in an elegant typeface paired with a small butterfly to convey her soft, feminine vibe. • Do you have a fashion style that reflects your music and can it be described distinctly? Nicki Minaj's colorful costumes and wigs match her over-the-top alter-ego personality and ani- mated rap style. Alternatively, Tony Bennett's neatly pressed suits and ties match his classy behavior and his elegant jazz style. • Are the stage designs for your shows intended to offer fans a distinct experience that can be summed up clearly? Are they visually amazing like those of Pretty Lights, or intimate and stripped down like those of like Arthur Lee Land? • Do the organizations (charities, fund-raisers, foundations, etc.) with which you are associated reinforce your overall values in life and song, Communicating the right message about your musical persona tells your audience who you are and why they should care about you.