If you are going to build a brand, you must know what a brand is. A search engines would provide various definitions among which I want you to consider these three:
“The name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”
“It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers.”
“Brand is the personality of a business.”
To Have a Brand, You Have to Have a Business
In other words, to have a music brand, you have to have a music business. A music business is one set up specifically to generate revenue and provide a return on investment (ROI/profit) for the owner(s). Therefore, this article is for persons who want to make music for income and profit. Not for others who make music for the fun of it.
As required of any business, you need a vision, a mission, and to a less extent, a plan. Based on your vision and mission, you must go after necessary skills and information, which can be in the forms of education, formal and informal training, apprenticeship, internship among others. You have to make music in a music business and, most importantly, you have to sell music. It is after you are equipped with the requisite training and information that you can have the competence to create an actual business plan and strategy. With a business plan and strategy, you will have a fair idea of the funding your business will require before you can bet on a positive cash-flow position. The headache about “money” is not specific to building a brand; it’s a business pain.
Find Your Genius and Make an Exemplary Product
You cannot build a brand, a great product, until you have seen yourself in the mould of a great builder. Be clearly sure of your core talent. What kind of music do you do great and easy; remember the comparative advantage factor in market positioning? (Yeah this is about a music business) Here, we are talking about building a profit-making business around your music. So, you need to concentrate on the aspect of your talent that puts you shoulder above most (competitors) in a hall full of aspiring musicians. For instance, you rap and sing but you sing better than you rap, undoubtedly. So, here, you have to go for singing. Next, you sing nice and pleasant Rhythm and Blues better than you can belt rock lines. Here, you have to adopt nice and easy and abandon rock. And so on. Next you find it easier to work over African beats and horns than singing through western jazz. Here you have to adopt these African sounds as your preferred canvass for your song-working. And so on. I am sure you have got the drift now.
And most crucially, you may be a lyricist, that is, your fort is not in crafting winning melodies. So you may have to make a business decision to find a songwriting partner who can compliment your lyric writing with suitable melodies, and then both of you must work consistently until your creations are as organic and naturally pleasing as can be. Or on the flip side, you could be great at ear-arresting melodies and be pathetic at lyric-writing at the same level. For your business’ sake, you will have to find a partner to do the lyrics. And so on.
Let’s Build a Brand; Practice and Persistence is Key
Now you (or you and your partner whatever the case is) must learn, learn, write and sing lots of songs until you have grown wildly talented in a particular but comfortable way. When you can reliably put out one song after the other with a consistent appeal in quality and simplicity or complication, whatever the case may be, that is when you are ready to call your product. Your product here is your “art” –in the narrow sense of music making. This is when you are ready to engage in the practice to “…establish an image of our music-making business in our consumer/listeners’ ears and eyes.”
The product must have consistent quality and style, which your consumers (customers) can easily recognise. You have grown into your performance style, which you had beforehand chosen to work for the kind of audience you have appointed to cultivate and make super fans from among. For instance, if you have chosen the audience for your kind of music well, say the working class, people that do dinner parties a lot, then your performance choices, of costume, dance routine and stage set, will have to be the kind that appeal to your market. A lot of alignment is expected with the different aspect of your image-building. Your name, many physical attributes of your appearance and image, colours, fashion, how you communicate will have to work for you and your chosen audience. Most importantly, these style, colour, fashion and message choices should continue to retain certain enduring characteristics that easily resonate with those who are your core customer or consumers. These characteristics form what Allan Dib, the bestselling author of “The 1-Page Marketing Plan,” call the personality of your brand. He defines brand as “the personality of a business.”
The Growth of Your Music Business Cannot be an Accident
You must have consciously chosen the name of your business to suit the clear vision of your talent, your product and your market. Then, you deliberately choose designs and colours, symbols and logo with which you package these elements of your music business’ reality. On social media and everywhere else, you must choose your messages, in which the bound of play or depth must be deliberate. It is better natural (and easier) to you; there must be unity in the form and the language of communication. Your message and choices of all the elements of personality must resonate first with your target audience. Your association with and loyalty to this market segment must not waiver. Last but not the least, you must promote your personality. And the best form of promotion comes from selling, selling and selling. You must be reaching out vigorously to your market with product after product –music after music- of improving quality and positioning performance.
Don’t Do Branding While You are Building a Brand
I want to quote Allan Dip here:
When all is said and done, branding is something you do after someone has bought from you, rather than something you do to induce them to buy from you. In the same way that you get a sense of someone’s personality after you’ve dealt with them, so too it is with your business and its personality or brand.
In essence, build a brand, and the tail wind of that composite process is selling. Get creative in getting your customers to buy your music; only, of course, after you got creative making the great music that would sell (wildly?) among your preferred consumers. When you are selling to a good number of customers, brand awareness will come and grow. At some point, the brand awareness of your music business’ personality will easily result in more sales and profit. This is when it becomes wise to spend money to do branding, which is another name for widening brand awareness.
Remember, building a brand is a deliberate enterprise. You must define your message bounds, clarify, target and cultivate your specific audience, aim to employ a unique quality control practice, be fairly consistent on style, sustain the pitch of your “promise and deliver” mechanism. Be making music like you are possessed; be selling music hotly after your vision of great commercial success. At last, a business with a personality will take shape and a great brand will be recognizable.
Mr Habib Mohammed, is the CEO of Righton Projectz Limited. The company that has just offered the Nigerian music scene the all-female three member group, Fahmili, a music brand, which is “a working class music offer for business class audience with core messages revolving around careers, career choices, work-life balance issues, relationships, healthy life style, love, and humanity.”