Over the course of the past couple months we at Noise Complaints have spoken with many artists starting off in their careers. Some are early on while others have been gaining traction.
Some of the common questions we encountered were:
Where do I get started?
How do I develop my brand?
How do I craft my story or even figure out what that is?
How do I position myself?
We’re going to help answer some of those questions.
Your brand is the summation of your unique story—your experiences, goals, interests, and mission pulled together and displayed authentically to your audience to give them a reason to choose you and allow them to deeply connect with you.
It’s the identity you and your team craft and represent through your actions and visuals, whether that’s a logo, attire, haircut, or the way you carry yourself. Together, these aspects add up to the entire package, and make you uniquely appealing to your fan base.
A brand is necessary because it gives you a greater psychological connection with your fan base. It’s the value that you offer that extends past your music. It allows you to create a magnetic force.
If developed well, your brand will remain constant even when you decide to experiment and innovate with new sounds, channels, and avenues. No matter what, a successful brand will appeal to and connect with your core fan base, because the foundational elements that you want to showcase are everclear and framed in people’s minds through your personal brand.
Let’s start with how you can figure out what makes up your story.
What are the prevailing themes or topics within your music?
What is missing from your genre or what do you want to see more of and can you fill that gap?
What is unique about your music?
What’s unique about you outside of the music?
What are the values that represent you or that are most important to you?
What is the story you want to tell about who you are and what’s important to you?
What’s your image?
What do you want your music to convey and make people feel?
How do you want listeners to connect and relate to you?
Start with these questions and see what stands out. Within those questions you may begin to figure out the pillars that will form the key messaging for your brand.
At this point, you may begin to figure out where you can differentiate your music and how to describe it. You want to describe your music in a way that gets the imagination going, where potential fans can imagine the music in their head, before actually hearing it with their ears. The pillars that you identify for your messaging should give a feeling of who you are and provide a sense of how people ought to feel when your songs come on.
You brand is doing a lot of the initial legwork by attracting them to your music. Even after they hear your music, your brand will continue to work for you by solidifying the connection between who you are as an artist and how your music is in the mind of fans.
The next critical step in positioning yourself and building a brand is to think about your overall vision.
Your brand goes hand in hand with the vision you see for yourself, so you want to align the two. In order to reach your goals as an artist, you should make sure to take actions that contribute to the story of your brand and align with the pillars of both your brand and long term vision.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
What is the vision for your career? This includes music and non-music endeavours you want to try.
How do you want people to remember you years from now? What do you see your legacy as?
Short term goals, mid-term goals, and long term goals?
Do an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
Are you using a persona? If so, what aspect of yourself are you sharing with the public in order to create that authentic persona?
What successes have you had in your career? What caused them? Are they repeatable?
What failures or struggles have you had? What has caused them?
Do the actions you’ve taken and the music you’ve made align with the brand, story, and goals you have in mind?
The idea here is to learn about who you are and where you currently are in your career to figure out an accurate current state. After answering these questions, you need to assess where you want to go and how you should pivot and adjust your focus towards the future. While doing this you should start seeing where the gaps are and what strengths you have that can help you either fill them or work around them.
Ultimately, this will help ensure that your actions are focused and are aligning with both your brand and goals. If your actions align with your brand, fans will feel the authenticity and your path will make sense and be clear to both you and them, making it easier for them to support you.
After this exercise, you should start beginning to at least see an outline of the ideas, themes, and concepts that will make up your brand.
You should also have your goals down on paper now. Make them as specific and trackable as possible so that you can use them as metrics for success and determine what activities you should focus your time on to actually achieve your goals.
For example, if you goal is to live comfortable making music, calculate how much money that requires and tie back all of your activities to that number and goal. That way you can track what is putting you closer to that number or what is holding you from it.
With your brand pillars/values, strengths, story, goals, and actions all figured out, you can work on the actual marketing and communication of your brand in order to build it into a recognizable entity that attracts a fan-base.