[This article was written by guest contributor Kyle Valentic, a Los Angeles-based graphic designer and the founder of ROKRIOT.com, a design blog that highlights the innovative ways bands connect with their fans.]
1) The Brand
Don’t be intimidated by the word “brand” or blow it off as corporate marketing-speak; branding is simply storytelling — which is something your band does every time it writes a song, so you already have some experience. Now it’s time to apply your storytelling skills to developing a broader narrative and establishing a unique persona for your band, a personality that reflects the band members as musicians and performers.
Touchpoints encompass all of the physical and digital assets your band will create and distribute – think anything and everything from album releases, to email blasts, to merch, to social media updates; it all must reflect your band’s character. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to expand your reach and engage new fans, so it’s important to develop creative ways to communicate.
3) Be Distinctive
You’re in a band? Really? Well so is your neighbor, his cousin, and her boyfriend – music fans have a bewildering array of choices these days so you have to give them a reason to recommend your latest CD and follow you online. What’s different about the design of your album packaging and website? Is there a unique voice to your tweets and eblast copy? Through your story, develop a unique identity that will allow you to interact with fans in an imaginative way. Emulating another band’s style to try and ride a trend will not generate longevity.
4) Know Your Competition
As a designer, my job involves a lot of research; it’s the very first phase of the design process. Researching the competition gives you a tremendous advantage as it identifies stories or perspectives that people aren’t exploring, and allows you to create a new voice that appears distinctive and refreshing. Remember that there’s a ton of clutter out there, but always room for someone confident enough to think a little differently.
5) It Takes Time
Understand that it will take time to build an audience and cultivate long-term relationships. Making a big splash with your first album release and tour will establish a good foundation, but it’s going to take dedication, focus and consistency to truly build an audience worthy of sustaining a career. My best advice: engage, engage, engage and then when you’re done engaging, engage some more.
How have you set your band apart from the rest with smart branding? Let us know in the comments section below.
Follow Kyle on Twitter: @rokriot
[Branding iron image from Shutterstock.]