B(r)anding

Branding is so far-reaching and penetrates so deeply into the essence of what we do that essentially everything we do becomes our brand.

The value of music has never changed—it is the format in which we purchase it that has changed. The value of music is the experience it gives us and the emotional connection we have to it. It is the memories it brings back and the moments it embellishes. So the true value of a band is not just the amount of units and downloads the group sells, but the overall value—including the money-generating aspect (“monetization”)—of the band’s brand experience.

Branding tips for musicpreneurs:

• Be authentically, confidentially yourself. Be different.

• Focus on creating positive experiences that result in positive memories.

• Surprise people in emotionally meaningful ways.

• Make people feel good and their lives easier to live.

• Long-term success is based on trust plus recommendation.

• Be a fan of your fans. Reward brand “ambassadors” (i.e., the Super Fans).

• An effective brand should speak more about the person who chooses it than about the product it represents.

• Be sure to listen to what is being said about you and use the information to strengthen your brand.

• Be a leader, not a follower. Create the unexpected. Use the element of surprise backed by values that people relate to.

• Give value greater than just the “product.” Give a valuable and meaningful experience.

• Connect people with people; let the brand represent them.

• Overdeliver and undersell. Let the experience and product be greater than the expectations.

• Build trust through positive experiences.

• Engage with your audience. Be transparent. Recognize mistakes and celebrate successes.

• Develop your brand story. Let your brand experience start in the audience’s mind by stimulating the imagination. A brand is a living, breathing thing—it evolves, and your story should be the same way.

• Create community, a sense of belonging, a place of acceptance. Monetize admission to the community.

• A great brand should represent the inner person its fans strive to become.

• Never substitute real experiences with online experiences. Use the internet as an extension of your physical brand. Use it to build awareness and gather data. Activism is always more effective than “clicktivism.”

• Don’t let “freemium” marketing (i.e., freebies) dictate the value of your brand.

• Build brand affiliations that add value and focus to your brand, that help tell your story. Be creative in choosing your partners and strive to surprise.

• Follow Marty Neumeier’s “Five Disciplines of Brand Building”: differentiate, collaborate, innovate, validate, cultivate.

• Answer these questions in order to ensure the focus of your brand: Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter?

• Create a recognizable image. Symbols defy literal definition and require emotional interpretation. As Carl Jung said: “The sign is always less than the concept it represents, while a symbol always stands for something more than its obvious and immediate meaning.”

Nashville audio branding expert Steve Keller offers some excellent advice in the following points:

1) Be congruent. The brands that are most recognized and familiar are the brands that practise congruency in their communication. Authenticity is one thing. Alignment is another. Research shows that the brands that make the strongest impressions are the brands that align their identity across multiple consumer touch points: visually, verbally, sonically—even considering how haptic and olfactory touch points might affect brand identity. If your verbal message isn’t aligned with your visual image, it can result in a perception of the brand that feels inauthentic, disingenuous, and even dishonest.

2) Be consistent. It takes time to establish a brand identity—and to build equity in it. Super brands understand the importance of consistency. They connect with their consumers as often as possible in as many contexts as possible—and they make sure that when they do, the consumer experience of the brand is always the same. As a result, the brand feels familiar. Consistency creates—and then delivers on—consumer expectations.

3) Keep your promises. A brand is ultimately the promise of an experience. Make sure you understand what that promise is— and continually take an inventory to make sure you’re keeping that promise. That’s how you build fans—and loyalty.
 
Aaron Bethune.