17 Often Confused Branding Terms That All Musicians Should Understand

Posted by Bobby Borg on May 5, 2015 08:00 AM
Find me on:

fans3Believe it or not, your fans are your brand ambassadors. (Image via performermag.com)

What's the difference between brand identity and brand image? How would you define positioning? What's a brand evangelist? As a musician marketing your own music, you'll be way ahead of the game if you truly understand what terms like these mean. They're not new, but they're very often misused and misunderstood. These 17 definitions will help set the record straight and make you sound more like a music marketing guru.

1. Brand

A type of product or service, that – in the best case scenario – stands for something unique, heartfelt, believable, and relevant in the minds of the fans. Overall, a band's brand represents a promise to fans. It's something they come to trust.

2. Brand ambassadors

Fans who become so passionate about an artist and his or her products and services that they're compelled to serve as spokespersons and spread the positive word-of-mouth.

3. Brand associations

The relationships a band forms with other successful brands to build its own value in the minds of fans. For instance, when a musician receives a sponsorship with a major brand like Pearl drums or Zildjian cymbals, he or she immediately inherits the positive image of these companies and is seen as more professional, credible, and established to fans and other musicians.

4. Brand attitude

This relates to the overall posturing a band chooses to project on its public (e.g., bad boy, bad girl, gangsta, ghetto, intelligent, all-American wholesome, etc.). Whatever a band's vibe may be, it must be real, fit appropriately with the products and services it offers, and be relevant to the people it's trying to reach, or otherwise it'll never go over with the audience.

5. Brand equity

The intangible value of a band (i.e., the reputation a band holds with promoters, the goodwill a band has built up with its fans, the worth/reliability of a product or service to the fans, etc.).

6. Brand evangelist

A fan who's so passionate about a band  – even more so than a brand ambassador – that he or she feels compelled to convert others into joining the tribe of followers. Evangelists are typically touched by the emotional component associated with a band and how it makes him or her feel. With just a few brand evangelists and the positive word-of-mouth they'll spread, a brand can take root and grow its awareness.

7. Brand extension

New products that a brand creates outside the realm of its typical offerings. For instance, a rapper may "extend his brand" by offering a tequila product.

8. Brand identity

The name, logo, slogan, personality, packaging, dress, and behavior a band chooses to project onto its target audience with the intention of creating a certain image in the minds of the fans.

9. Brand image

The consumer's perception of a band, product, or service that's derived from his or her repeated experiences with that specific band, product, or service.

10. Branding

The process of communicating clear, relevant, and cohesive marketing messages with the intention of creating a positive image of the band in the minds of fans.

11. Brand logo

The graphic design that conveys a band's name and character in the marketplace. A strong logo can provide cohesion and structure to an identity and make it much easier to gain recognition and recall.

12. Brand mark

A logo design that primarily features a graphic without words (think the Rolling Stones' lips/tongue logo or the Misfits' skull).

13. Brand name

The label given to a band, product, or service to help create a strong and memorable image in the minds of fans. A brand name is how people come to recognize, request, and discuss your band among friends, and it's what will trigger the series of memories and associations stored in fans' minds about your band whenever they hear or see the name.

14. Brand position

In the minds of the fans, a brand "position" is what a specific brand stands for (in terms of its unique benefits and relevant characteristics) in relation to competing products and services in the marketplace, or what makes your band different from a similar band. It's the one way that the audience organizes a certain brand in its mind.

15. Brand promise

The principles, qualities, and integrity that a band pledges it will live up to.

16. Brand recall

Refers to whether consumers are recalling a particular brand when making a purchase. For instance, a music student might recognize a certain band when he sees it on a store shelf, but is he "recalling" or thinking about that brand as he's on the way to the mall to buy a new guitar?

17. Brand recognition

A fan's ability to recognize or remember a brand name when it's mentioned or visible. For instance, a person might ask, "Have you ever heard of The Lawnchairs?" If the response is "yes," it could be said that the band has "good brand recognition." Recognition, however, does not necessarily translate to how strong that brand is, especially if people are not buying that band's products, albums, merch, etc.


Learn more about branding:


bookBobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack on a Low Budget (September 2014). Find the book on Hal Leonard's website under "Trade Books" or on Amazon. Signed copies with a special offer are also available at bobbyborg.com.

Book Gigs Today!

Topics: branding, Music Business 101, Marketing & Promotion


Get weekly updates on articles, gigs, and much more!

Posts by Topic

see all