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Unlabeled Academy: Artist Branding

What is a brand?

We all engage with brands, and we do it regularly. Fundamentally, a brand is a logo paired with either a symbol, design, tagline, name or similar feature that separates it from other businesses – at least from the perspective of customers and/or fans. Some people will make an argument that this is an oversimplification and that brands are a lot more elaborate. For instance, brands are synonymous with reputations and tell people what to expect from the company it represents. We can say, then, that a brand can be defined as a visual identity representation. Artists throughout history identified with audiences through branding, after all. By that token, every musical artist has a brand already, even if they don’t realize it.

It's Not Just About Music

One typical mistake that many artists make involves confusing branding with authenticity. “It’s all about the music, man” is something you hear people say when discussing the image of a musician, for instance. Some people fear losing their credibility by removing focus from music and allocating it towards an image.

Strong Brands Win In The Long Term

Although prioritizing substance over style is what most musicians strive for, credible artists, historically, have cultivated powerful and defined images that articulate visual identity. Strong artists understand that success involves more than songs that are well-crafted. Artist branding involves channeling music through energy, using identity and visual styles consistently. This is done to establishes tribal loyalty, which, in turn, stimulates people to become fans. A brand must be thought of as much more than just music it represents.

Someone You May Know

The Weeknd is a textbook example of effective and consistent artist branding. Learn more about his story and why his brand works.

Four Steps To Artist Branding

One: Analyzing Musical Idols

One ideal starting point involves thinking about who your inspirations are. Take a look at the things they have done. That is not to say that you should copy whatever they did. You should, however, carefully study them, then introduce ideas of your own to establish a musical brand.

Two: Tap Into A Creative Circle

Someone either in your circle or city will probably have a passion for creating natural visual identities. If you cannot find such a person, consider enlisting support from an individual who can. This begs the question – how can you go about finding such a person? Visit social networks and comb through each platform in search of local creatives interested in doing amazing things! Artists tend to collaborate, so seek inspiration from designers or artists that you resonate with. Perhaps one of them can help create something that elevates your music and brings it to levels you want it to be at.

Three: Talk To Your Close Friends & Family

There will be somebody out there who can provide you with creative ideas of high quality. Consider fostering connections with a community you can relate to. Doing so is important during the early stages of your musical career.

Four: Take Branding Seriously

Early on in your music career, remind yourself that the things you post on the Internet will not go away. This is something you should take seriously. Refrain from posting anything without thinking things through. Your image is something you need to guard almost jealously. Concentrate on an image you can sustain, as opposed to one that trends with the times.

How marketing agencies view brands

Your approach should be taken even deeper if you want to craft an identity that will last for years. Most branding agencies tell clients to concentrate on the 3 “E”s:


Your brand should come across as simple and easily accessible to those who are drawn to it.


The brand should strive to produce an experience for the customer. Take storytelling, environment, colors, and textures into consideration.


Your fans should feel like they are a part of whatever your brand represents. They should be able to resonate with it, creating a tribal and communal feeling that they connect with.

Final Thoughts

Your brand is a living breathing thing, and it will evolve over time the more successful you become. It should always be taken seriously and never dismissed as an aspect of inauthenticity or a corporate exercise. Artist branding involves visual communication, giving you an opportunity to isolate yourself from the pack. Don’t forget, if you enjoy it, so, too, will your fans!

Ready to start your artist branding journey?

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