Branding – Step One – Being REALLY REALLY picky

You hear the word branding a lot these days, why? Well, that’s because every time you hear that word a douchey marketing major gets his wings. If you’re completely clueless. Branding is defined by Business dictionary as

Meet Brad, he’s just about to get his marketing wings.

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The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/branding.html

I​ like that, it’s easy to follow. In Crazy Legs’ terms, It should be everything you want everyone to see and hear about your band. That sounds easy to manage, and honestly, it is. But there are a few mistakes that every budding band/artist makes. Let’s list a few things that we can do to get our brand up and running like a well-oiled machine, and maybe give a few frat boys their wings in the process. 

I​ recently went to a Nashville songwriters convention and the first thing that really stood out to me was the Brand Bible. 

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O​ur topic today is on our first step with branding.

Create a brand bible – I want you to be incredibly meticulous with your bible. You are Moses stepping off Mt. Sinai. Do you understand? This is Leviticus it’s thick and boring as hell. It has everything little rule for your brand. Can you get your ass out of the mire on a Tuesday? I don’t know, refer to your brand bible. What fashion style should you be wearing when seen in public? What is your color scheme? You don’t have to look like the white stripes… but you should decide a few colors that you want your logo/posters/shirts/band to be seen in. Let me give an example with a photo, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated.

In this photo we have orange as the color, it comes in a few different shades. You wouldn’t have to put orange in every single photo/shirt/whatever the hell you’re making. But you should start thinking about something around that style. You shouldn’t push this then have a pastel pink logo. It wouldn’t make any sense, it’s confusing. Most people get that, I just to make sure we’re all on the same page.

L​et’s move to the shirt. This is a statement, maybe not a bold one. But it is a statement. It automatically puts a type of person in my head, more importantly, it puts a sound in my mind. I can hear it without this guy playing a single note for me. If he started playing bluegrass wearing that shirt, it wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it would be unexpected. What I’m trying to get at is… what you wear matters. I know this is obvious… but I have made this mistake more than a few times and I want to touch on a particular example I see A LOT – Freaking bands taking pictures in formal wear. 

If you are not going to wear formal wear almost every show you play. I would highly recommend NOT taking a band/artist photo in formal wear. I’m sure you look sharp – don’t post that photo though. Keep the old photos, frame them, put them on the mantle, do not put it online. It’s confusing! Not just to fans. It confuses venues, blogs, playlists, new listeners. If you’re wearing formal wear, you should be making a statement with that formal wear. Take yourself out of the equation and think about it, if you saw a photo of a band, and they’re all dressed in suits or a dress, what would you think that they play? – I’m not saying be someone else. Be true to you, trailblaze. But I have met only a handful of musicians that I would say fit the formal wear scheme, and they either lightly strum an acoustic guitar, or they play jazz. Clothes make the band. 

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You should be using the same font on posters. Every. Single. Time. Don’t stray from your look! Everything needs to look recognizable to your fanbase. The rule of advertising is that a customer has to see something seven times for it to stick. If you change it up… well it just seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

Y​our band logo should reflect the group, this is obvious. You should also have ONE logo. Don’t mix it up and have four different things that represent you. Obviously, with the time you’ll come out with more art and that’s okay. But you shouldn’t be introducing new logos often. 

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I​ like the idea of giving yourself a phrase to help keep you on the right path with all things “you” – An easy example is Rustic Chic. When I say that, suspenders and sundresses and twain should pop into your mind. I’m not saying follow your phrase religiously, or even that you should tell any of your fans this phrase. I’m just saying give yourself a heading and something to refer to when you make decisions. If the phrase is “Sentimental/Comeback Blues” Then try to picture what you think that looks like, and cultivate that band closet to fit that. Don’t wear pink up on stage. Get the drummer on the same page, he probably shouldn’t be wearing shorts if that’s the look you’re going for. You don’t have to all wear the same thing, or color (yuck, I’ve always hated that terrible idea) just make sure you have the same style. 

Elenora is just about to drop her new clothing line – Chick Chic

I​ like the idea of giving yourself a phrase to help keep you on the right path with all things “you” – An easy example is Rustic Chic. When I say that, suspenders and sundresses and twain should pop into your mind. I’m not saying follow your phrase religiously, or even that you should tell any of your fans this phrase. I’m just saying give yourself a heading and something to refer to when you make decisions. If the phrase is “Sentimental/Comeback Blues” Then try to picture what you think that looks like, and cultivate that band closet to fit that. Don’t wear pink up on stage. Get the drummer on the same page, he probably shouldn’t be wearing shorts if that’s the look you’re going for. You don’t have to all wear the same thing, or color (yuck, I’ve always hated that terrible idea) just make sure you have the same style. 

That being said, don’t paint yourself into a corner or feel like you have to fit into a stereotype. Think about how you want to be perceived, then make sure you’re perceived that way by sticking to what you’ve set. – If you’re going for that chic rustic look. Every time you perform, make a video, take a photo, You should be seen wearing a something rustic chic. Don’t wear white jean shorts with Michael Kors glasses… I’ve made my point. I’ll move on. 

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You can sell odd things that fit your style. If you’re a blues band, maybe think about putting your logo on a flask, or a guitar pick. Find something unique that someone in the group can make. I know it sounds crazy, but I one in a band where someone made duct tape wallets… AND THEY SOLD! Who knew? Not me at the time. It was a refreshing learning experience though! 

Where you play is a big deal. At first, it’s a good idea to take what you can get, but after a while, it’s a good idea to be a little more selective with where you play. I have played a few country bars in my day. Let me tell you… I bombed, hard. If you’re a blues rock band, it’s kind of weird if you have a lot of children’s festivals. Once again, I don’t want to play into stereotypes. But you’ve only got a finite amount of energy, don’t spend it on things you don’t need. 

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Now, you might think… “Legs’, this is a little overboard.” Well to that I say

Screw you! You are WRONG! 

I’ve had a few different people from Nashville tell me just how important this is. Labels pay attention to that stuff, your fans pay attention to that stuff. Do you know how David Bowie in his personal life… I don’t either, that’s because he carefully cultivated his persona. I’m sure he was a strange man, but I will never know. And sure, at the grass-root level, it’s essential to connect with fans, they need to meet you and see who you are. I’m not saying “Be fake, pretend.” I’m saying put your best foot forward like you would on a first date. Don’t send a ton of mixed signals. If your thing isn’t jumping around on stage, then don’t. It’s okay! if your good people will like you for anything short of killing a puppy up on stage (why would you even think of that? You’re sick.)

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When should you start branding yourself/your group? You should start now. Make your group/yourself a bible to follow. Write down the rules of how your group is perceived. Then cling to those rules as if they would get you into heaven. Use the old Pinterest board and create a collage to help get the idea across. It doesn’t have to have any people in the photos, you and your team are the only ones who will see this board. It’s just to liven the old brand bible up.

You can rebrand yourself, it is tough though! Have you ever been part of a band – made a social media profile – then had to switch names? I have multiple times, and I lost all of my fans multiple times. You may think “Oh, they’ll know to switch over.” But I promise you they won’t. They are not invested like you are invested. Sure, a few super fans will move over, but the rest will lose the association with you and your music. 

I will end by saying – Be YOU! Just be sure to decide who you are. Does that make sense?

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