Michael Jackson was known as the King of Pop. Beyonce is a great entertainer who stands for "girl power." While both of these artists have immense talent, it's their brands that have allowed them to acquire millions of loyal fans and earn millions of dollars from music sales, touring, merchandise, endorsements, and more.
As an emerging artist, you may think that you don't need to be concerned about branding yet, but you absolutely should be. You must create your own unique brand to have a long, successful career. Fans don't only buy your music; they also buy your persona. Branding helps you create your persona and stand out from the countless other artists trying to get their music heard. Having a strong brand is key for building a loyal fanbase and making consistent income from your music.
Not sure where to begin? Start with these five branding tips the pros use, and you'll be well on your way.
1. Identify your unique selling point
Every artist has at least one special quality that makes him or her different from every other artist. Your unique selling point should be something your fans can only experience with you. It could be your distinct sound, your own sense of style, or the way you interact with your fans. Think about what you want to be known for and identify what sets you apart.
2. Write a compelling bio
Branding means consistently telling your personal story over and over again. Your fans build a deeper connection with you when they can relate to your personal story. Write a bio that describes your musical background and life experiences that have influenced your career. Your bio should give your fans a glimpse into where you've been and where you're going.
3. Develop your image
Your fans build their perception of you based on your image. Your brand image includes the way you dress, how you present yourself in interviews, how you interact with your fans and the general public, and how you market yourself.
Your brand image also helps to sell your music. When Rihanna released her Good Girl Gone Bad album, for example, her signature asymmetrical bob haircut helped catapult her into success. Many women went to their stylist and got a similar haircut. Create your own look to differentiate yourself. Consult with a stylist to help you create a style that represents your brand message. A publicist can also help you develop your image by crafting your brand story, identifying the best outlets to tell your story, and teaching you how to interact with the media.
4. Be consistent
Being consistent helps your fans to easily identify you. Your fans should have the same experience every time they see you or interact with your brand.
The easiest way to deliver a consistent experience to your fans is to develop a format for your stage show. In addition, present a consistent image every time you release music or content, and make sure all of your marketing materials have the same look and feel.
5. Be authentic
If branding could be summarized into one phrase, it would be "do you." Your brand is who you are and what you stand for. For instance, when Drake first broke into the industry, he didn't try to fit in with all the other hardcore rappers in his field. He remained true to himself and is now arguably today’s biggest rap star. Identify your artistic vision and niche, then stick to it.
Lauren Gill is the founder and chief power specialist at Power Publicity, a marketing, branding, and public relations firm that empowers entertainment, nonprofit, and lifestyle brands. She has executed several successful marketing and PR campaigns for major and indie recording artists. You can follow her on Twitter @IamLaurenGill and @_powerpublicity.