If you're an indie artist or band, don't fear the word "branding." It's not selling out or becoming something you're not. It's not sacrificing your artistic integrity. It's simply a strategy that helps you tell a cohesive story. It includes your music, your look, and your story. There has to be some sort of visual or graphic continuity to help you stand out from the ether.
As information and content consumers, we are assaulted by so much – too much, even – stimuli. Your band logo, your social media avatar, your website skin, the colors in your album artwork, your press photos, and even your font work together to tell a story. That's all branding, even if you never realized that's what it was. Here are five simple elements of branding to keep in mind.
It should be legible, unless, of course, you're going for obscure and hard to read like black metal bands. The graphic should also give the person seeing it some sort of idea of what you're about. Or, at the very least, it should arouse curiosity.
It's not always easy, so you should work closely with a designer on what you want to convey. Do you want it to be messy and unstable, since your sound is loud, noisy, and unpredictable? Or do you want minimal, clean, stark lines to match your angular playing style? These conversations need to be had with whoever does your design work.
2. Band photo
Your press photo should also show your style. Don't dress for your press photo in a way you don't dress on stage. Conversely, don't dress for your band photos as you do to run errands or go to the gym in real life, especially if you have a specific stage vibe or look. Your band photos should be natural, and you should look and feel comfortable with how you stand, the location in which the photos are taken, and what you are wearing.
3. Stage clothes
If you want to wear uniforms or makeup or other band's shirts while you perform, that's fine. Just remember that it's all part of your branding. Make sure it's legit, real, and you.
4. Stage props
Make sure there's something else on the stage that conveys who and what you are, from props to scrims to a banner to a backdrop. If you don't tell people who you are, how will they know?
5. Web properties
Your profile photos, your Twitter avatar, and your skins should all reflect the band. Post your album cover. Or your press photo. None of this should be left to chance. These are all small opportunities that can be exploited to tell a bigger story. When things are consistent, they become remembered as a signature, a hallmark, or a marker. If your web properties are super unforgettable, when people see it, they will flock to it and remember you.
Amy Sciarretto has 20 years of print and online bylines, from Kerrang to Spin.com to Revolver to Bustle, covering music, beauty, and fashion. After 12 years doing radio and publicity at Roadrunner Records, she now fronts Atom Splitter PR, her own boutique PR firm, which has over 30 clients. She also is active in animal charity and rescue.