Music Artist Branding Examples – From developing your visual identity to setting your brand value and competitive advantage, here’s our guide to branding yourself as an artist. Evie Bloom,
From creating your visual identity to setting brand values and defining your competitive advantage, we’ve got you covered! By looking up to other successful artists who have excelled in their branding, you will go a long way towards finding yours. So we spoke to some inspiring creatives to get their advice on developing a unique visual identity.
Music Artist Branding Examples
Singer-songwriter Blue W3rd explains how he chose his artist name, what brand identity he has and why he uses style to be unique.
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We also asked Design Manager Daniel Aberg for his tips for branding an art project. First of all: Be true to yourself as an artist. “If you’re an artist and you’re trying to create a brand that’s so different, it’s almost impossible to get someone to buy it,” says Daniel. “Ultimately, your brand is how others perceive you, and if the image you’re trying to project is very different from who you really are, people will notice.”
As an independent artist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of imitating artists you admire. Their looks, their vibe or the way they talk on social media. But finding your own voice will set you apart from others.
“Creating a recognizable brand and visual identity takes time and is something you’ll have to stick with for a while. It’s important to remember that even if you’ve seen your brand and visual identity for a long time, it may still be new to the public.
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“It’s important to remember that even if you’ve seen your branding and visual identity for a long time, it can still be new to the general public.”
Many of the new artists who are very popular right now have their own unique brand and way of identifying with their fans. “You can enhance certain areas yourself to create a clearer picture,” says Daniel. “But don’t make things up completely.
“The visual identity is only one part of the brand, it’s the most recognizable part, but it’s important to build a good foundation before you start with the visual side of things.”
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The processes for creating a brand identity vary from artist to artist, but there are some basic steps that apply to any artist, market or genre.
Before starting a visual page, start by creating a brand platform that can be used throughout your brand – not just the visual page.
There are 5 key steps to creating your brand platform: defining your USP, brand value/margin, category, competitors/icons and putting together a mood board. If you don’t have much time to create, focus on the moodboard (it will be soon).
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These can be difficult to define, but putting them down on paper will help you and your team ensure that your brand and visual identity are true to you. Try to make them as specific to you as possible. The last point “why it matters” is very important because it will help you stand out.
Your brand advantage or values are usually 2-3 distinct characteristics of you that people want to associate with you. “They should be true to you and the music you make, and help you differentiate yourself and influence your visual identity,” says Daniel. “Defining these values will make it easier for others working with you (photographer, stylist, graphic designer, etc.) to understand your brand and the dos and don’ts.”
One artist who has mastered his edge is Abel Desfaye, aka The Weeknd, who has used the attributes of mystery and intrigue to build his career. First, he’s a guy with dreadlocks. Then he cut them. He was a protégé of Drake, who later rejected the OVO sound. Fans don’t know where he is. And how he likes it.
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“We live in an era where it’s so much, ‘Who is this guy?’ I think it’s refreshing for everybody to think that, and I think that’s why my life has been so long: because I don’t give people everything,” Abel told Rolling Stone in a 2015 interview.
“I realize that everything we do is what it looks like. No branding is branding. Like, you don’t have a face or a picture to put on my music first. That’s branding,” he told Fast Company. visual artist and it always goes hand in hand.
We get it: sometimes your vibe isn’t what defines you for the genre. But people will try to put you in a category anyway, so it’s useful to find out which category you belong to. “Each type usually comes with its own characteristics, style and trends,” says Daniel. “It’s good to see these things.”
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As with genre, people will compare you to other artists whether you like it or not. So, defining yourself, your competition or similar artists will help you stand out among them. Your fans want to interact with you, so think about the story you want to tell. How do you want your fans to feel when they hang out with you? Give your listeners a reason to listen to your music instead of another artist who is similar to yours.
Mood boards (also known as vision boards) are a super powerful tool for creating and visualizing your brand identity. They are a physical or digital collage of images and text that inspire, motivate or provide guidance to you and your team, help communicate your brand identity and align with future goals.
“It’s a really useful tool for anyone working with a brand to quickly convey a feeling and a visual direction,” says Daniel. “I usually ask the artist to provide some sort of visual inspiration, so I know where to start if we’re not going into other strategic areas. It’s a good tool to communicate the visual impression you want to achieve, and can also have inspiration/direction for color, typography, photography and video.”
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Once you’ve defined that, you can choose or design your own typography, colors, logo, and other visuals that will live on as part of your artistic brand. If you want to outsource your logo design, try using an online service that connects you with talented designers. Two great alternatives for this are Fiverr and Upwork.
While it can sometimes be okay to follow an artist’s musical style for a sonic trend, you should steer clear of copying the look and feel of another artist’s brand.
“In general, artists should try to create something for themselves, not imitate others,” says Daniel. “You can see what ‘world’ you want to be in (genre or competitors, etc.) so your visuals help people put you in that world. But if you try too hard to imitate someone else, you’re more likely to end up with something that represents someone else artists better than you and the music you create.
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“In general, artists should try to create something that is their own, not imitate someone else’s.”
Before you start designing the cover for your next release, you first need to define whether the cover is for a piece or part of something larger, such as an EP or an album. If it’s part of a larger project, try to tie it to your brand and upcoming release – this will help bring your fans into the “world” you’re creating for the upcoming project.
Your cover represents your music and helps your fans connect with it. “The artwork is the first thing people see, so it has to provide some sort of visual representation of the song,” says Daniel. “If a song tells a story, you can try to convey part of that story in the artwork. Or maybe it’s a feeling or a mood you want to convey through the song and convey that to the listener when they see the artwork. If the song tells a story, you can try to convey part of that story in the artwork . Or maybe it’s about the feeling or mood you want to convey through the song and give it to the listener when they see the artwork.”
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Is there anything to avoid? “I don’t think there’s anything you should avoid other than copying someone else. I generally recommend that artists take inspiration from others rather than from existing cards.
There’s no easy trick to making your artwork stand out on streaming platforms, but a few things can help.
If you’re not a design expert, there are tons of easy-to-use apps and tools to help you with your cover.