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You and Your Brand

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@SarahSchonert), you’ve probably run into some of my discussions about Brand, whether it’s during a chat, some random thoughts, or in my interactions with fellow musicians and UX pros. Usually during the chats or the wider conversations, someone will chime in with a quip about selling out, being too corporate, or similar. Here’s the thing… Brand is important for serious musicians. You might bristle at this idea. You might be thinking “that sounds so corporate and that just isn’t me,” but guess what? You shunning “the man” is part of your Brand.

For those of you who treat your music like a business, Brand is incredibly important. But if music is just a fun hobby then this post isn’t so much for you. That’s okay! Not everyone who is public about their art or music needs to take themselves so seriously. However, the moment you start considering music as a part of your income that you seek to grow, then you should consider your Brand and message.

So what do we even mean by Brand (which you’ll notice I almost always capitalize for better or for worse)? Brand is how you present yourself. It’s how you show up publicly through your art, your social media postings, your music, your web-page, on-stage, and pretty much any public sphere where you are your representing yourself as a musician. It’s not just about a logo or a color scheme. It’s not just about styling or genre. (It includes those things for sure, but they are minor pieces.) It’s how all of it fits together to create the you that you wish to present to the world. And to be “on-Brand” means to be consistent with the message that you intend to promote and personify publicly.

If you were shunning the idea of having a Brand you may be rolling your eyes at me, maybe you’ve stopped reading (so it’s kinda moot I guess), or maybe you are starting to accept now that a consistent message and how you show up isn’t really all that “corporate.” You might still need convincing though and that’s fine. So here we go!

Having a consistent message and showing up in a consistent manner does a few things for you.

  • Your fans know what to expect from you and may be more willing to buy before they hear that next album
  • Music professionals (reviewers, bloggers, interviewers, etc) will take you more seriously as they see effort and professionalism on your part and have a better idea of what you are about by visiting your website or social media pages
  • Your marketing and media material can be easily reused, reducing your own workload when you adopt new social media platforms, advertise gigs, announce events, and and coordinate release material
  • People can find and recognize you regardless of the platform and are secure in the knowledge that they’ve followed the correct account on social media

Even if your Brand consists of mystery and surprises (no one says you have to be boring), if there are some constants then there will be comfort and trust that you will deliver on your promises. I’m reasonably sure there is something about you that is somewhat consistent and that you want to reuse because it represents you quite well. Perhaps it is your artist name, type of artwork you typically choose, your logo, etc. You need a good idea of which of these things are unwavering and embrace them.

I also want to point out that part of your Brand is your attitude and your public voice. I know many artists that make certain causes or even politics part of their platform. They keep their messages consistent and take responsibility for their actions and words. It suits them. It’s part of them; and their audience isn’t too surprised when they post their views. Whether it’s supporting the ACLU, promoting the arts in grade schools, or an unwavering love of penguins, these messages are a part of you that you may have chosen to be continually public about in conjunction with your artistic self and is now part of your Brand.

Another piece of your Brand is also how you talk about yourself. What is your bi-line? How do you describe your act or music to others? Have you coined a new term to sell your sound? Or maybe instead you find yourself using different words each time and rewriting your bios and blurbs. Not being consistent in your own descriptions is confusing to anyone who wants to talk you up, write about you, etc. If you aren’t sure how you’d describe yourself, your music, your message, then how will anyone else?

It may not be overly obvious that you can change up your look and feel and still be on-Brand. Brands evolve and take on new advertising campaigns, slogans, etc and so can you. I change my website and social media images with each new album (that’s part of my Brand actually to do so) but I do it across the board. My logo stays constant. My music style and my description of myself is mostly the same (although it has evolved over the years as it should). My message has matured but ultimately is still on-Brand. And the more I learn about how I wish to show up in this world, the more cohesive my message becomes. Your Brand should grow and evolve with you over range of time, so don’t be afraid that embracing it will limit your growth in the future.

SariGirl #WEATNU Digital Magazine – November 2019

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