Hello Composers and Artists, Mike here. And in this article I want to share some of the most important aspects of branding, for your professional career in music.
First, who am I? Well, my name is Mike, and I am a composer, sound designer and artist like you! I am also the founder of professionalcomposers.com, and I have even worked with branding as one of my main roles in another business I was in a couple of years ago.
But more importantly, I have personally learned and experienced the practical benefits of having a professional brand, both in business and in your own personal brand. And now I want to share some of the most important aspects of branding, for your professional career in music.
Create your Professional Brand
Let me start out blunt: your music can be of amazing quality, but if you neglect the business aspect of your career, you miss the biggest potential for your success. And the foundation of every business is...your brand!
And this means both your professional brand, as well as your personal brand. Let’s dive into the subject of branding and see if there are things you miss out on, or could improve.
The Power of First Impression
Let’s be honest, people judge the book by its cover. And yes, what you wear and how you look will make a difference in the way people see you. In fact, the first impression is incredibly important in everything you do, and every type of content you put out for the world to see, or even private communication with people in the music industry.
What is Branding?
Branding is the complete packaging of everything you do, and everything you communicate to the world. From the products you create, to the visuals/images you use, to the words you write, the graphical elements including your logotype, the design and so on.
What do you need for Your Brand?
Let’s face it, you are not Coca Cola. The biggest brands branding document that guides everything they do is so advanced that it almost is a full bible of rules.
So let’s just stick to the basics, and focus on the very essential parts of branding that would benefit a freelancer and solo entrepreneur that an artist like yourself is. Here is a list of the most essential branding elements I recommend that you focus on to build your professional and personal brand as a composer and artist.
Brand Name (alias/artist name) - Optional
If you want to, you can use your own name as your brand name. I have both an artist name, and in other cases brand myself with my personal name.
A logotype is only necessary if you want a business face. So if you use a brand name/artist name, I would say you need a logotype.
This profile picture is super important, as you will use it in email signatures, and as avatars on all social media etc. Make sure it looks super crisp and professional.
Social media websites, forums etc. often use a banner image in the profile, and it is very important that you keep a consistent brand wherever you are present. Use a high quality banner image that represents your brand well.
I would recommend that you create a portfolio of high quality images that you could use for your website, press/media relations, social media, networking etc. For example, images of you in your studio. Just make sure your portfolio images looks very professional.
If you want to be really fancy with your branding, I recommend that you create a color theme and font theme that you use consistently for all branding elements you create. Good practical examples are images/thumbnails for YouTube Videos, or other social media images.
Your Quick Pitch
I strongly believe you need to have a short paragraph that describes what you do, and how you can help people with our professional skills. The brief introduction of yourself. Here is an example, from my own perspective:
"My name is Mike, and I am a composer, sound designer and educator. I create worlds of music and sounds for creative projects. I also teach and share knowledge for composers and artists, so they can level up on their professional journey in music".
Channels for Your Brand
Now, having a brand sitting on your hard drive will of course not do any good. You need to put it out there in the world. Your brand is what represents you, your fundamental marketing core that people will recognize you by. What are those main channels, where should you have a presence with your brand? Let me give you some practical examples to get you started:
Without a website, you are a like a store without a building. The website is the main location, the head office, of your brand. If you want to use your own name to focus mainly on your personal brand, the best thing is if you can use your name as the domain name. But that is very tricky these days as most names are already taken, so a nice short brand name might be the best choice.
Since email is the main source of communication for business, you should make sure you create an email signature, including your name, title (expertise), website address, and an avatar (small portrait image).
You can also use this signature in forums online, or other places where you can automatically add your signature for branding yourself. Also, if you want to reach fans, and build an audience of followers for your music or brand...use an email service provider to set up and create your own email list.
People want visuals these days, reading is boring, static images does not have story....but video has it all. Even if it is just a VLOG you will quickly realize how incredibly powerful video is for making new connections, reaching more people in a more engaging way, and open opportunities for you simply because people "feel the get to know you" with video. Also, once you start making videos, make sure to use them on your website, social media etc.
There are many places to place your music, but the great thing about SoundCloud is that the embeds on websites, social media etc. work great and look very good. This is more important than you might think. Sure, the audio quality is not the best ever, but the branding power outweighs this in my humble opinion.
Create a Facebook Page for your brand, and use that to join groups, communicate with people on Facebook etc. You can still use your own name for your Facebook Page if you want to focus on a personal brand as a composer and artist...but make sure you use a page for it.
This can be LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever you prefer. But focus on results. Don't do it just for the fun of it. Social media can be a huge time waster and distraction. Where are you gaining the most connections, where are you communicating with the most important people that matter for your journey in music? Focus on those social media channels.
Now Take Action
The most important thing in life if you want progress, in my opinion, is to take action when you learn new things and implement them straight away. What aspects of branding are you missing out on right now?
Make a list of all those things, and start working on them today. Your brand is the face of your business, even the clothes you wear, how you act, talk, write, and present yourself are part of it.
In essence, branding is about create "the image you want the world to see you and your business". Good luck with your brand, and your professional journey in music! =)
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