Thinking of ways to increase your visibility in the vast music marketplace? Visual branding is a good place to start.
As the co-founder of Tunedly, a premier music production platform, I have come face to face with the topic recently. Thank you to Symphonic Distribution for giving me the opportunity to share my two cents. Let’s get right into it.
Why is Visual Branding Important?
To answer this question, imagine yourself as a regular business to customer (B2C) entity, because, essentially, that’s what you are. Like a company, you are creating a product (your music) to offer to consumers, in the hope that enough of them will spend their hard-earned cash on what you are offering, so that you can make a living. Like a company, you have many competitors vying for the same pieces of the pie (people who will pay for your music).
To stand out and have a chance at success, visual branding comes in; because having a good product is often simply not enough to attract an audience. Visual content can tap into the visceral psyche of your audience, encouraging them to discover more about your brand. If you can generate high quality visual content, which truly resonates with people and promote it on a regular basis, the reputation and awareness of your brand is likely to increase as time passes by.
You see, people are highly visual creatures. I am guessing that you probably heard that before, but you’ve probably never thought why. Well, sight has always been one of the most used senses – from studying the stars to determine direction back in prehistoric times, to looking at the physical attributes of a person or thing in order to measure health, beauty, size, etc.
In addition, images are just easier to remember. In fact, studies show that humans remember as little as 10% of a piece of information three days after hearing it, but will retain 65% or more if the information is in the form of an image. Need more evidence as to why visuals are so important? Just take out your mobile phone and head to your favorite social media app; like most people, you will probably spend the majority of your time looking at images or watching videos.
The recent rebranding of my company, which has now been launched as Tunedly, raised several questions about how the new platform should look. On paper, it didn’t seem that hard since we already built one website, which we thought looked reasonably okay. However, the process was quite challenging; from defining our new identity, to coming up with the right color combinations, deciding on a layout, choosing a logo and images that accurately represented our messaging and vision. It took many brainstorming sessions, countless mock-ups, and many re-dos to get the visuals right.
When we just started out with the first website, our focus was on providing premium music production services rather than aesthetics, and, by finding ways to reach people with our message, we have succeeded somewhat in achieving our goal. But knowing what we know now, we probably could have achieved so much more, if we understood the importance of consistently using the right images to help spread our message. I’m not saying that doing all of the above automatically ensures success; after all, substance trumps outward appearances every time. But visually-appealing content helps to sell the substance.
As an independent musician, this is something you will possibly be faced with, if you haven’t already. Hopefully, you can pick some wisdom from my own experience, which could probably help your task become a little simpler.
How do you Want to be Seen?
The way you present your music to your audience has to fall in line with your overall brand. Do you want your band to be seen as cool, friendly, futuristic, traditional, modern, loud, gothic? That’s just a few adjectives to consider when creating your visual message, and once you decide what it is, it has to be consistent with the content you use going forward, from your CD covers and YouTube channel thumbnail, to your Facebook cover photo and website banner.
Working on Tunedly opened up my eyes to how lacking the previous website was visually. I mean, it has visuals, but they aren’t near enough stunning or of the highest quality. Oh, just in case you’re wondering what Tunedly is all about, it’s a platform geared towards making it easier for anyone to create premium, beautiful music without the hassle or high costs.
How to Enhance Your Visual Branding
Based on my experience with working on Tunedly, here are a few takeaways that I hope will help you create a successful visual branding strategy.
✓ Have a Logo
A logo is one of the simplest but most profound ways to represent your band’s image, both online and offline. Whether you use a simple text graphic or an actual image, you want to ensure that it is professionally made. You also want to have it in more than one version with a transparent background that you can resize for use on different items.
✓ Hire a Professional Photographer
You want to have one or two high quality images of you or your band that you use consistently online. Eye-tracking studies show that visitors to websites spend more time looking at real, high-quality images than bio information and other texts. These images should be of the highest quality, no less. You certainly won’t achieve the quality you want with your cellphone camera. Hiring a professional photographer to do a photo shoot might cost you, but the quality of the images could make it worth your while in the long run.
✓ Decide on a Color Palette
Pick two or three colors that you are comfortable with to represent your brand visually online. You might need to try different color combinations before getting it right, but the colors should complement each other in some way, as well as capture the feel and style of your music. Once you’ve found your colors, use them throughout your website and social pages, as well as for web banners, and your logo.
✓ Make Use of Social Media
The most popular social media platforms make it easy for you to express your brand visually. The big three – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – see millions of images and videos being shared daily, so you want to make sure all your visuals are shared on at least one of these platforms with your followers. Don’t forget SounCloud, YouTube, and other music-sharing platforms, which are ideal to share thumbnails of an album cover or logo, for instance.
As I have learned, it is highly important to spend some time working on your visual branding strategy. Failing to do so could end up harming your image (or what little is known about it) in the long run.