A Guide to Music Branding: Stand Out & Stay Authentic
Let's take a closer look at how you can build up an eye-catching and memorable brand image for your music.
A Guide to Branding for Musicians and Bands
Creating an interesting, exciting and engaging brand for your musical persona doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a steady process that can take years to develop. Or it could already be set in stone. It all depends on you and your strengths.
A musician's image can often be a subjective concept. But to help explain it, we’ve broken the concept of music branding down into three (pretty big & important) steps:
Defining your brand
If you’re completely lost when it comes to identifying what makes you and your music stand out, here are some key things to think about.
What or who inspires you?
What sets you apart?
What sub-cultures & genres do you belong to?
What’s your style & fashion taste?
Who would you appeal to?
Answering these questions is a big step towards defining your personal brand and image, but if you’re still unsure, just take a look around you for inspiration.
Go through the music you listen to most and choose 3 (or more) bands or artists that you particularly respect and admire.
Try to describe these artists in a word or two and use these words as a starting point for your own identity.
Say your biggest inspiration was Lady Gaga. Let’s pick a couple of words that describe her image: Extravagant, Activist.
You can then use these traits as a starting point for building your own brand style. We use the term “building” subjectively here because chances are you already share these characteristics with the artist you admire.
The important next step is to make sure you’re conveying this fact to your audience.
You might think this sounds a bit like copying someone else’s image. But (unless you mimic them to the point you’re a tribute act) it’s really not.
Even the world’s biggest artists and bands have personal heroes who’ve inspired them on their way to stardom. Taking inspiration from someone you admire is a huge part of an artist’s journey.
Think about how many bands in 2023 take inspiration from Arctic Monkeys or a bit further back, Nirvana.
There's the old argument that developing and carefully cultivating a music image and brand takes away from the authenticity of an artist. But in truth, the two should be intrinsically linked.
Your image should originate from your own authenticity. The way in which you convey this authentic image to your fans is how you build your brand.
Building your brand
While defining your image can be a pretty ambiguous part of any music brand development, building your brand is where all the pieces come together to create real, marketable and easily-recognisable ideas, assets, graphics, performances and products.
Aside from your music itself, here are some of the main ways in which you will build and convey your brand to audiences.
Artist or band name
Social media presence
Brand management and consistency are important across all these mediums.
Consider some of the world’s biggest artists.
You can identify them from something as simple as a font choice, colour scheme or icon because their image, logo and brand identity is so strong it has been ingrained into our culture.
Just take the groups below as examples. Metallica's brand is absolutely synonymous with rock music. Think about how many kids you see still rocking tees with their logo on them, regardless of whether they actually know their music or not.
The imagery and tone of voice you use to convey yourself as an artist can help you to truly stand out in a crowded music scene.
It’s also worth investing in some professional design software like Photoshop, or working with a graphic designer, to create your logos, social media imagery, gig posters, etc.
Whether you're a solo artist or a band, make sure you spend some time thinking about music logo ideas & designs to help you not just look the part, but set yourself apart too.
Check out our article for some more music logo ideas and how to make your own music logo as an artist or band.
Remember, the cooler and more eye-catching your logo, the better chance you have of selling more merch with that logo on it.
Marketing your brand
Now you’ve delved into your inspirations, developed an image that feels right, and created some killer branding – it’s time to market yourself as an artist.
First, let’s identify the main marketing channels through which musicians can develop and hone their brand and image.
Your distinctive and authentic brand image should be at the heart of everything you market through these channels. It should make clear who you are, what your appeal is (or who you'll appeal to) and why people should be interested in you.
All of these factors will come in handy when you're looking for music sponsorship or brand partnerships too.
Lastly, there’s one important thing to remember…MAKE GREAT MUSIC!
As good as your branding may be, your tracks still need to be high-quality and well-produced, and your live performances need to be watertight and engaging. If your music resonates with people, everything will fall into place more easily.