Branding – The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.
Branding can be a magical thing, especially for musicians who don’t just want to be big, but want to build a loyal following. Most artists think it’s about making good music, but most of time fans are looking for more. They want to feel like they really know their favorite bands inside and out. If your band doesn’t have a clear personality, it may be hard for your fans to really connect, or even just differentiate you from the thousands of other bands/artists out there. That’s where branding comes in. At its core, it’s what makes your band a standout from the pack.
Recently, Facebook released a statement that as of March 31st, bands and business pages will revert to the Timeline format. I think this is a great move for branding in general, as it brings a personal, individual feel back to the Facebook page. However, many people don’t agree because now Facebook can’t be the cheap alternative to a full-blown website that it has become. There will be no more pages within the Facebook page linking to store fronts and other band information. It’s basically a wake up call to bands that are just going through the motions, and not creating effective marketing strategies for Facebook.
Thank goodness Altavoz is here! We’ve been telling people all along, digital isn’t the only way to go. Since it’s always changing, it’s important that your branding/marketing strategy is based on emotions between you and your fans rather than online widgets and distracting technology. Here’s a list of the top 4 ways to best Brand your Band! ( I would have done a top 5 list, but 5 seems so cliché). Hopefully you’re doing some of this already, but if not, take the free advice and get moving.
I feel like this always comes up, and is the digital presence a band should be required to have if they want to communicate and connect with fans on a personal level. @KanyeWest is the perfect example. From his artistic strategy of following less than 10 people at one time on Twitter, to his late night rants about saving the world with some justice league-inspired team of artists, fans get a real sense of what Kanye is like when he’s home in his Prada PJs tweaking the designs of his Fall 2012 Womenswear collection. And his fans love it.
Blogging also can be a great facilitator of repeat interaction with fans. If your fans know when you post something, and that you regularly contribute to your blog, soon enough you’ll have fans come back of their own accord to check for new content. For instance, giveaways are a great way to engage fans and have them checking back to see if there’s any updates on contest rules or if they’ve selected a winner.
2. Videos that people actually want to watch
The beauty of all the technology in the world right now, is that it’s really so easy that anyone can do it. Instead of waiting to get the funds to make some weird, trippy music video that doesn’t match your lyrics at all, load up the video app on your phone and record an impromptu jam session with your band. Or even just a behind the scenes clip of what it’s like on the tour bus. All those things are simple enough to do, and are more likely going to be sent and shared on the Internet which is exactly what you want. Doing this regularly keeps fans coming back to your YouTube channel and checking for updates. My personal favorite is Crash County Music. Every time I’m on YouTube, I always pay an extended visit to their channel.
I personally feel the only reason Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga, as opposed to just another eccentric who can sing, is the thought process behind her presentation. She takes it to another level, and doesn’t care if the world is confused. While I wouldn’t suggest going to that extent, I would definitely pay attention to how you portray yourself to the public and your fans. From having names and special lingo you and your fans can use, to selling t-shirts with a signature phrase, all of that could easily translate into merch sales and overarching fashion trends.
Sometimes it’s not about the music, but who looks more exciting as a person. Bon Iver has been around for a while now, but just won the Grammy for best new artist. Makes no sense right? It doesn’t. But honestly, the only reason he was even spoofed on SNL (you know you’ve made it when SNL dedicates even part of a skit to you) is because last year he was pulled from obscurity by Kanye West’s Monster Feature on My Dark Twister Fantasy. He rode the flashy, larger-than-life Kanye train to that Grammy, let’s be honest.
Your band is a business at the end of the day, remember that! Just like a business, it’s important that your message/design/aesthetic are the same across everything you do. One, it makes you look more legit to those casual fans who aren’t really sure what you’re about and aren’t inclined to explore your music when they go from one album to the next and hear a completely different sound. It also makes you more recognizable to your loyal fans. For instance, if your band has a logo, loyalists will rep that logo till the day they die. It’s silent communication, that says to other fans “Yes, I’m familiar with the greatness that is (your band name here)” while it leaves the rest of the world in confusion and on the outside of the inner circle looking in.