Branding is a hot topic these days, and for good reason—solid branding is often a key feature among "successful" artists. But what is this untamable beast, really, and why is it so accredited? Branding is a Brain Candy specialty, so we've put together this short guide to help clue you in on how you can take charge of your brand.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Let’s start with a simple example: have you ever gone to the grocery store to re-purchase a staple food item, but can’t find it anywhere because the packaging changed? Or have you ever seen subtext on a bottle that says, “same great product, new packaging!”. These examples illustrate the core purpose of branding: distinguishing yourself from others.
Branding works because we humans are creatures of habit; we like patterns and we crave reliability.
HOW TO BRAND
Now that you understand the purpose of branding, hopefully the task of developing your personal brand is less daunting.
The dynamics of branding
Successful branding ensures that you and your work are easily recognized, and that people know what to expect from you. To start developing your brand, think about the elements of who you are. Now if you’re anything like me, the thought of defining who you are triggers panicked existential crisis mode—but don't go there just yet.
It’s ok to not have a solid answer (and it's ok to have one!). Showing people who you are doesn't necessarily include defining who you are. Who you are is a beautifully dynamic and abstract concept, and in some ways a static, all-encompassing definition is the antithesis of the self. A successful brand will strike a balance between acknowledging the human need for change and the need for reliability and consistency. If you find it helpful, think of your brand as a living, breathing extension of yourself: You will always be you, but who you are and what you look like changes.
Someone who embodies this very well is Adele.
What are you all about?
When thinking the elements of your character that you want to build your brand around, ask yourself:
What are your likes and dislikes?
What are your values?
Who do you want to appeal to?
What interests do you want to appeal to?
What is your aesthetic?
What do you want to offer people? What do you offer people?
Your branding should revolve around some of these elements of who you are; this is advantageous because, as you will see shortly, authenticity is the key to the coveted consistency of successful brands.
Once you have these elements established, think about rendering those elements as colors, shapes, and images; focus on capturing their essence in the design and aesthetic of your brand. Some find it helpful to construct "Brand Guides" in which they often lay out the following information about things like color scheme, fonts, icons, logos, and style/aesthetic.
The first component of branding is designing the brand; let’s say you’ve done this and now have a solid foundation for your brand. What’s next?
The second, and arguably most important, component is to stay consistent with your branding. This is a large component of the development part of branding. It is much easier to stay consistent with branding if it feels in some way true. Branding benefits from consistency in two senses: long-term and short-term consistency.
Short-term consistency looks like:
Integrating design choices across all of the platforms on which you present yourself and your work
Using similar profile pictures and color schemes across social media accounts
When you can, make font and text-styling choices uniform across platforms.
Long-term consistency is a much more abstract concept, and ties into the elements of character around which the design elements of your brand are built. Staying consistent long-term doesn’t necessarily mean being static. This is why consistency is so difficult: it walks the fine line between the inherent static component of recognizability and the intriguing notion of evolution.
Think of it like this: when aesthetics and appearances change, what will remain constant? Is it your love of interacting with music in a physical way (through dance or records)? Your need to spur political change? Answering questions like this can help to illuminate exactly what it is you are trying to communicate with your branding. If you use authenticity as a roadmap for the natural evolution of your brand, it can help you with staying consistent.
WHAT CAN I DO RIGHT NOW?
Get your brand started! Think about:
Designs and aesthetics you're excited about
Icons and logo design
Important values, goals, and desires
Establish yourself on social media! Take your pick:
Open a Tik Tok! (Brain Candy has a guide for clients coming out soon... stay tuned!)
Start a blog! Check out our other post on this: Modern Blogging: An Artist's Guide
If you're interested in seeing examples of branding, check out this post on how Brain Candy helped Nate Gott. If you're still not sold on the importance of social media, or need more examples of social media presence, check out this post: A Strong Social Media Presence can Win you a Grammy—Here's How.