Understanding what goes into building a great music brand will help you create one.
The word “brand” is just five letters, but it’s an expansive word. It’s an umbrella term that means different things to different people. Some people think of a brand as a logo or a tagline. Others think of a brand as an idea or a campaign. Or they believe that a brand has something to do with how you sell a guitar, amp or other piece of musical equipment. They are right and wrong.
Building a brand is complicated, but defining one is easy. Simply put, a brand is how others perceive you. It’s what your company—and products—mean to people and how you fit into their lives. Great brands occupy a small space in someone’s mind. It’s a clear idea of what your company is about based on years of creating an image. Brands are not born. They are made.
Your products and services are your brand’s foundation. What your products represent and how they can improve someone’s music should be reflected in your brand promise. Branding reinforces why someone wants to use your product. Brands build loyalty. So when your product is seen next to your competition on the floor of a music store, there’s a positive association attached to your name. It sets you apart.
Behind every powerful brand is a powerful idea designed to unify your company. Everything from product development to human resources to marketing should work together to convey how you want to be viewed by your audience. For example, if your brand is all about innovation, think about how your products, advertising, digital properties, events, content, social media, website and collateral build on that one idea.
Here are a few hallmarks of a great music brand:
They stand for something. Think of your favorite band or performer. You know what to expect. Even if they record something different, there’s a recognizable quality, attitude and style. A brand is similar. You need to stand for something—craftsmanship, tone, technology, design—and consistently deliver on it. Branding serves as shorthand for your audience, so when they hear or see your name, it’s associated with a strong image.
They are consistent. Your marketing should look, sound and feel like it came from the same place. Consistency makes your investment in branding work harder to build name recognition. The look of your communications can change, your message can evolve, but the essence of your marketing always needs to be on brand.
They’re big on engaging and connecting. Great brands know their audience beyond basic demographics. They understand them on a deeper psychological level—likes, dislikes, what’s cool, what’s not, what music they play. Great brands know where to find their audience. They know if they’re reading music magazines, spending time on Instagram, going to events and festivals or shopping in music dealerships or online. They never stop finding ways to engage with their audience and creatively tell their brand story.
They create armies of ambassadors. Players influence other players. If your brand has an appealing message, your audience will help do the heavy lifting by spreading your message to their friends. It’s a multiplier effect that builds excitement and generates sales. Harness the enthusiasm of your most hardcore fans.
It takes a serious commitment of time and resources to build a strong brand image. Ultimately, however, it will pay dividends through brand equity—creating value, building strong, positive perceptions and generating customer loyalty.