There’s been quite a bit of talk lately about creating ‘your personal brand’ but many creative people experience resistance or an ‘allergy’ to this concept. To them, the idea of branding is crass and too commercial. They feel it’s far too constraining to box them into a particular brand or define themselves by a label such as a rock singer or a rap artist. On the other hand, any good marketer will tell you it’s ‘all about the image’. There is truth in both perspectives, but above all, it is helpful to define what we actually mean by ‘your personal brand’.
Before you start getting uncomfortable with the idea of image and personal branding, let me assure you that if you are currently promoting yourself in any way you are already creating a particular image and personal brand.
Your personal brand is not just what you do and it’s certainly not confined to the name of your band or what is written on your business card: it’s much, much more.
Your personal brand is about you as a unique individual (or group in the case of a band), it is what makes you the artist you are – how you conduct yourself, your unique story or message, the image you project, your values, your beliefs and so on. It’s about how you stand out. It’s your uniqueness or your point of difference.
If we think of singers with a strong sense of branding, some artists immediately come to mind – Madonna, Pink, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Justin Bieber. Each of these celebrities has a distinct image, message and personal brand.
It is important to get clear on how you want to project your image to the wider world and what message you want to convey. Good marketers tell us that a consistent image and message that is both relevant and resonant with your ideal fan base is the key to success.
The first step toward success for any musical artist is getting noticed.
If you are an indie singer/songwriter, for example, you may value the freedom to have complete control over your music career. You want to choose what to sing, what to wear, where to play etc. An opera singer, on the other hand, may love the collaboration of working in a company with other singers, actors, and dancers, and he or she is quite at home singing whatever opera is offered and wearing whatever costumes are required to deliver an outstanding performance. These personal preferences inform your personal branding.
If you are not clear on your own brand, how can you expect potential fans or booking agents to relate to you and your music?
Businesses spend thousands of dollars developing and promoting their brand. Why? To get noticed and to begin a long-lasting relationship with customers.
The idea of creating a strong personal brand is not exclusively the domain of businesses. Any person or group that wants to get noticed and build a relationship with fans must give some thought to branding and consider how they want the world to perceive them.
How does an artist create a strong and authentic personal brand?
Be Real, Be Authentic
There is no point projecting an image or brand that is not you. A personal brand will help clearly and consistently define, express and communicate who you are.
It’s impossible to consistently pretend to be someone you’re not, so be you!
Your personal brand has to be believable, it isn’t a case of just wishing to be someone you’re not, but it can be about growing into the person (and brand) you want to be.
Define Your Unique Style
Get clear on who you are as an artist. If you are unsure, it can be helpful (and surprising) to ask family and friends to describe your style. This feedback enables you to assess how you are presenting yourself as an artist and to make changes if what you are projecting does not resonate with how you wish to be perceived as an artist. Does this projection currently align with your values?
Once you see yourself as unique, it reduces the stress associated with competition because you know that you have something unique and special to offer.
Focus On Your Ideal Audience (Fan)
Having a defined personal brand helps you gain recognition for your talent by attracting your ideal fan. If you are a country singer with an adult contemporary twist you can focus specifically on reaching out to people who like that style of music. Your time, efforts and advertising budget will not be wasted on trying to communicate with people who love jazz music or traditional country. Conversely, people who want adult contemporary with a country flavor will respond positively to you because what you offer resonates with them.
Craft a Consistent Personal Brand
Once you are clear on who you are or who you want to be as an artist, it’s time to establish a consistent public message. The most obvious way to do this is via your marketing channels. It’s a good idea to choose colours and type fonts that convey your image and stick with these across all your marketing pieces. Also be mindful of your message and use language that is authentic to your ‘voice’.
Optimize Social Media to Reach a Global Audience
There are plenty of doom-and-gloom stories about the demise of the music industry but never before in history have singers and other musicians had access to tools that reach into the living rooms of literally millions of potential fans.
With amazing technology at our fingertips it’s easy to share our unique story and our unique music with our fans. Understanding your audience and more importantly what your audience wants, is key to building your brand and being successful.
Together with a strong personal brand, and a strong and consistent online marketing presence targeting your ideal fan base, there is no reason why a talented singer or musician can’t establish long-lasting and profitable relationships with fans across the globe.
Your personal brand can be a powerful manifestation of your values. It can keep you on track and help you align with your passion and purpose. A strong personal brand can inspire and motivate you to achieve your goals and delight your fans as they build connections with you and your music.
Monica O’Brien is a professionally trained and accredited Coach and founder of Creative Edge Coaching www.creativeedgecoaching.com.au. She blogs on issues about creativity and small business development for conscious artists and business entrepreneurs.
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