This post comes from Dayna Young, the Founder of Fred & Augustus with 15+ years of global experience in music and entertainment. In this article, she explains how building an artist brand can be compared to a 4D chess match. Why? Building a brand involves many moving parts. There’s your audience, your aesthetic, social and streaming algorithms (which impact how your brand performs), your brand’s relationship with other brands and artists, and how it performs in relation to the real world. Sound complex? It can be. Here’s her step-by-step guide to help you out.
An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Defining your Artist Brand
Let’s dive in…
Simply put: Branding is the essence of who you are. Marketing is the message you use to build awareness for your brand and your music products and services. Defining your artist brand must come first and marketing should come second. Therefore a crucial step of branding is to clearly define your brand. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to defining your artist brand.
Step 1: Define What Sets you Apart from your Competitors
To build your brand effectively you need to understand exactly what you are promoting. When you place yourself side-by-side with your competitors, what sets you apart? Is it that you are able to write and produce all of your songs? Or that you’ve perhaps won acclaim early on in your career? Are you solving a problem by creating songs that fall into a new or emerging genre?
For example, Taylor Swift is an exceptional female songwriter who proactively presents herself in a fresh light with every new album. Her fans engage with her so passionately because they feel a part of that emerging, and constantly shifting story.
Find the answer to questions like these and you’ll be on your way to building your artist brand messaging.
Step 2: Analyze your Target Audience“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Click To Tweet
Defining your target audience is a key step in defining your overall brand. You wouldn’t buy a car without first doing some research, so it stands to reason that you shouldn’t take your brand out for a spin without first understanding who you’re talking to. After all, your goal is to engage prospective new fans; the better you understand them, the more effectively you can communicate.
Your goal should be to build a general understanding of your target fanbase, including any relevant demographics, such as:
- Geographic location
- Purchasing power
- Family status
- And any other quantifiable data
Expand your mind…
You should also be building an understanding of relevant psychographic profile information like:
- Books they like
- Movies they enjoy
- Websites they visit
- Television shows they watch
- Magazines they read
Some of the ways you could go about analyzing your target audience include analyzing the age, gender, and (if possible) demographic of attendees at your performances, exploring the Google Analytics data of your website traffic, reviewing your social media insights, and data exploration using tools such as Chartmetric or Viberate.
You may not be able to collate all of this data in one go, but if you continue to revisit defining your target audience you will be able to collect much of this information over time.
Step 3: Set your Goals
These are not your sales goals, but the goals you want to achieve as an artist. Do you want to release an album within the next 18 months? Is there a specific artist you would love to tour with? Would you like to be an award-nominated artist in the future? Are there key brands you hope to partner with? Defining and incorporating your goals into how you portray your artist brand will go a long way towards demonstrating your authenticity as an artist and helping you to achieve these goals.
Step 4: Create your Core Brand Message
An artist brand can be defined as ‘the promise of a unique, and lasting experience’ for your fans. As such, you should look to craft confidence in your brand and set about delivering the brand consistently at every touchpoint. Taking the time to really consider your brand and to think about what the ‘promise of a unique, lasting experience’ for your fans means for you extends to your identity, your website, your social presence, and content, as well as the way your team interacts with fans and industry consumers of your brand. Developing a clear, defined, and authentic brand, and then delivering that consistently across all touchpoints is the foundation upon which successful artist brands are built.
When creating your core brand message, you should consider:
- Brand Promise // What are the values or experience that your fans can reasonably expect to receive every time they interact with your brand
- Brand Perception // While the perception of a brand is owned by your fans, you can however determine how you want to be perceived. Craft your brand messaging to support that perception.
- Brand Values // When you define your brand values you define the core ‘why we do it’ purpose reasoning from which your design, voice, message, and relationships should emit.
- Brand Voice // The tone of voice, your selection of words, and the attitude you adopt to address your fans play an important role in how your brand is perceived. Take the time to consider what “personality” you want to employ in relation to your brand voice in order to be perceived as you would ultimately like to be.
- Brand Positioning // This brief (typically one to two-line) description of your brand’s offering is used as a tool to align with your branding and marketing efforts. My favorite? Emerging artist Alyssa Joseph’s “singer/songwriter chick amplifying your emotional void with carefully crafted alt-indie, grungy sad girl songs”.
Creating a coherent brand story you can consistently communicate at every fan interaction touchpoint is an immensely valuable tool. Understanding not just what you’re doing (making music) but the reason why you’re doing it will go an incredibly long way towards creating stronger fan connections.
When you think of your artist brand as your starting point, it becomes easier to see how clearly defining your artist brand will help you more effectively plan a release marketing strategy, build your e-commerce store or fan club, or sell tickets for your tour. By carefully defining your artist brand you are one step closer to successfully achieving your goals.