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How do artists craft messaging that have consistent appeal? What comes to mind when you think of your favourite artists? What is it about them that you like in the first place? While the most obvious answer might be the music, there’s always a ton of other stuff you (consciously or not) associate with them: Their life story, how they talk, their weird hairdo, whatever. All of these aspects put together into a brand identity, help fans recognize and remember artists among the thousands out there. Do you want to attract the right type of audiences and get them to be loyal to you? Then you need to think of yourself as a brand. A brand? But I’m an artist, not a ruthless car seller!Yeah, we get it, referring to music as a “product” might feel strange at first. But think of branding as the process of understanding what you stand for and then making it clear to your audience. Doesn’t it feel important now? If you’re still not convinced, here are some other reasons to have a clear identity as an artist:

  • Just like with clothes and hair, humans use music to tell something about themselves to others. You can’t get people to relate to you and use your music as an expression of identity if you haven’t even figured out what you stand for!
  • Being easier to locate: How are people supposed to find your music if they don’t have a solid reason to look for it?
  • More specific goals: When you figure out what your values and principles are, you stop wasting time and resources on stuff that is not aligned with them.

So now you might be curious about how successful artists have built their own brand. There are dozens of strategies out there, but we’ll focus on the two we have tested with our own artists: The Artist Identity Prism and Brand Archetypes.

 

 

The artist identity prism

This is just a fancy name for a tool you can use in order to understand your brand. Simply put, your artist identity is who you are as an artist. It’s as much what you do as it is why you do it. But how will your fans find about your “why”? Through your background story, of course. And how do you make sure the story is consistent and easy to grasp?

That’s when the Artist Identity Prism comes in handy. It explains how you can build your story by considering six key elements:

Physique: What you are, the images, ideas, and emotions you communicate can be described as your artist’s physical features. This could be the symbols you use on stage, stage clothes, cover photos or press photos, etc. Remember that you can still always choose to not do anything special, but this will still communicate something.

Personality: If you are a band, you typically have different personalities, but could you describe the essence of the different personalities of your band in just a couple of words?

  • Are you light-hearted and fun?
  • Are you serious and all business?
  • Are you down-to-earth?
  • Are you playful or matter-of-fact?

Relationship: What kind of relationship will you have with your fans? It can symbolize some specific relationship between two people, such as a bond between two friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, girl next door, etc.

Culture: Culture takes a holistic view of the artist/band, your origin and the values you stand for. For example, Bruce Springsteen and American blue collars/working class are tightly connected. What values, country of origin and culture does your artist stand for?

Reflection: How do the typical fans look like? Who are they? What kind of values do you promote? Fill in the ideal perception of what your artist identity stands for. For example, sporty, fun, friendly, badass. Imagine the fans of Justin Bieber or so-called Beliebers, who are they?

Self-Image: What will your fans express to the world by listening to your music and being your fan?

Setting up an Artist Identity Prism is a great and efficient way to define your Artist Identity in a way that both labels and future team members can understand. It’s a crucial part of the Marketing Brief we make for all our artists and a central piece of everything we communicate through our channels.

You can check out this article for a more thorough description and examples of the Brand Identity Prism.

Communicating your Brand

How do you communicate your brand? At the end of the day, it comes down to two things:

Clarity: Be clear about who you are. Be authentic in all your branding, music, graphic design and media communication. Choose a position and stick with it.

Consistency: Be consistent in all of your communications. Give the public faith in your abilities and delivery, create expectations. When you have found your own way to be unique, make sure it’s present in all your communications.

Start with why: All other conditions being equal, the reason some people are able to inspire others is closely related to the purpose behind what they do (their “why”). And we don’t mean stuff like “making money”, which is rather a result. We’re talking about your mission in life, your beliefs, why exactly are you making music?

Once you’ve figured out your “why”, you need to communicate it from the inside out. When you only say what you do or how you’re “different” or “better”, and then expect your fans to subscribe/stream/buy/etc., you’re communicating from the outside in. This is uninspiring. Instead, the goal is to find fans who believe what you believe, and as such, you need to address your them through your purpose and values.

If you want more reasons to find out your “why” before you even start communicating with your potential fans, check out this video.

 

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