You’re on the road and get hungry. The next exit is one of those massive interchanges where seemingly every corporate fast food chain has a location. Which one do you choose, and why? Is the hamburger at chain X really that much better than at chain Y? The quality of fast food is pretty much the same across the board, so what made you choose chain X? Marketing experts would contend it has nothing to do with food quality and everything to do with branding.
The music biz is a lot like that Interstate highway exchange. Let’s say you’re part of an Americana rock act trying to get more fans. At least a thousand other bands are trying to do the exact same thing in the same genre. Beyond writing, performing and recording kick ass songs, you must do something to stand out. Whether you like it or not, your must brand your band.
Simply put, branding is making yourself more recognizable than your competition, a process to get more people coming in and then getting them to return again and again. You may not think of other bands as “competition.” In fact, you’d probably rather jam and hang out with them. Branding doesn’t mean being cut throat. You can bet those fast food executives are playing golf with each other at industry conventions a couple of times a year, just like you’re jamming with your friends and colleagues. Successful branding earns you more respect in your industry, be it music or tacos.
There are many techniques and particulars to branding, but the key is consistency. No matter how you feel about the golden arches, you know who we are talking about when we say “golden arches” don’t you? That’s branding consistency. When you start to do something right, don’t change it.
What are some ways to brand your band?
Get a good logo — and every band needs a good logo — keep it and put on everything, from the press releases to the CDs and T-shirts. Bite the bullet and spend the money for a respected graphic designer to help you craft the logo.
Make an online survey asking your existing fan base what they like most about your band. Use the feedback to help further your brand. SurveyMonkey has a good, free option for an online survey.
Define your brand. Maybe you’re part of a folk act, but you hate being categorized as “folk,” because your band is much more edgy than traditional folk music. Create new terminology. Brand yourself as “Edge-folk,” or whatever. The thing is, just stick to it, until your fans and the press catch on and start talking about your act as if it is its own thing, rather than part of a ubiquitous mass of other things. That’s when you’ll know you’ve successfully branded your band.