One of the problems with the process of developing an artist brand is that by being such an obvious goal, it can feel like a sell-out. That very well may be true in some cases were the branding is created more to manipulate an artist to fit into a trend rather than as a promotional strategy to build the artist’s audience.
The problem is that whether you like it or not, if you’re an artist, you’re already a brand. It may not be a strong brand, but then again, it very well may be stronger than you think without any thought or effort on your part. What I want to outline here are the elements that make up a brand and how they’re created.
So what are the pillars of building the brand? In this excerpt from Social Media Promotion For Musicians Second Edition, we’ll look at the main three:
• Familiarity: You can’t have a brand unless your followers or potential followers are familiar enough with who you are. They don’t even have to know what you sound like to be interested in you if you have a buzz and they’ve heard about you enough to want to check you out. Amanda Palmer, who more people know for her social media savvy than her music, fits into this category. Or you can like the Red Bull brand without drinking Red Bull.
• Likeability: Your followers have to like you or something about you. It could be your music, or it could be your attitude or your image. You could even say how much you hate your fans and do everything to ridicule them, and that irreverent manner could be just the thing they like about you. It doesn’t matter what it is, but there has to be something they like. Most artists fall into this category.
• Similarity: Your fans have to feel that either you represent them in a cause or movement (like a new genre of music), or that someday they can be you. Female Olympic athletes usually don’t do well in this category because their sleek and muscular look is so far beyond what the ordinary girl or women can attain that they can’t relate to them. On the other hand, young girls used to love Taylor Swift because they felt that she could be their best friend from next door.
If you have those three things along with a product that consistently maintains its quality (your music), you’ve got a powerful artist brand. I wouldn’t intentionally try to manufacture your brand so it absolutely complies with these pillars (people usually see right through that), but always keep in mind that this is how your audience views you, although none of them may even realize it.
You can read more from the Social Media Promotion For Musicians 2nd edition handbook and my other books on the excerpt section of bobbyowsinski.com.[Graphic (modified): Edgethreesixty branding]