Do You Need A Personal Brand As A Singer?
Yes you do. Here’s why.
So you want to be taken seriously as a singer. You dream of building an audience and getting recognition and monetary reward for doing what you love. Believe me, its a good dream… but one that a lot of artists also dream.
Apart from having great music, you must, must must consider your personal brand. Your visual representation of yourself as an artist.
Think about your favourite singers or musicians; Marilyn Monroe (movie star, yes but also a singer) instantly produces images of Old Hollywood Glam. A sultry eyelid, pouty lips, killer curves and fabulous gowns. One of her famous quotes was ‘My fans expect me to be glamorous. I won’t dissapoint them’.
Now imagine how you’d feel seeing Marilyn shlepping around in daggy trousers and a bulky top? It would burst the bubble. Ruin the facade that is the Glamorous Marilyn Monroe.
Having a strong personal brand creates a mystique, gives your fans something to aspire to be like. Someone to admire. Someone to follow. Your job as a performer is to create that mystique.
Other well known artists with killer personal brands include:
KISS – hello white face paint and red tongues! Talk about instant merchandise material! Bet they never had to wonder what to put on a t-shirt.
Jimmy Hendrix; super groovy threads and frow.
Amy Winehouse; massive 70’s beehive and ridiculously overdone eyeliner, but a solid visual brand nonetheless.
Prince; all things purple.
Taylor Swift; young, sweet country darling turned pop-princess.
and last but not least… Lady Gaga; need we say more….
Whether you like their music or not, you can generally look at these artists and quickly pick out what makes them unique…. and that’s the secret to standing out; using a personal brand to put you one step ahead of all the other artists dreaming that beautiful dream of yours.
So how do you get started? Here are a few methods I’ve used to develop my own personal brand that you may find helpful.
Start With Research
You don’t always have to go with the obvious. Just because you sing jazz, doesn’t mean you have to do the glamorous gown and start lounging over grand pianos. Sometimes its good to be different; audiences WANT different.
There’s a cool jazz flautist I saw once (soz, can’t remember her name) but her brand was Pink Punk. Yep, cute little jazz flautist in bright pink, punk outfits with high-top sneakers and fluro hair. Her whole website was very street and edgy and it really worked.
It made her memorable. I mean, I stumbled upon her years ago and even though I can’t remember her name because I didn’t dig her music that much at the time… I can still remember her super cool image.
So have a dig around the web. Look at artists, album covers, movies, books, posters etc… and pick out what resonates with you. The key is to be true to yourself… but in a much LARGER THAN LIFE way.
Push The Boundaries
You’re a singer. You get to be up on stage and do things most people can’t do. Its the perfect opportunity to dress the part and go LARGE!
Now you may love this idea OR you may cower in fear at the thought of having to don some cool new threads… and if you’re the latter let me ask you this; how badly do you want your music career? How do you want people to remember you?
You may be thinking ‘Ed Sheeran is just a guy and a guitar with nothing fancy going on’… well yeah…. but he’s not the norm and he’s also so ‘normal’ and a bit geeky that its actually become his image!
For the rest of us, I say wear those sequinned leggings you’d never dare to wear anywhere else, get out your sunnies and wear them on stage, pop the collar on your leather jacket and own that Greaser look.
Tell A Story
Here’s the most beautiful part about all of this personal branding stuff. Don’t just think of it as clothes and what you look like. Think of it as an extension of your music. Another part of your overall creativity.
Have an Instagram feed? Well use your pics to reflect lyrics you might write. Snippets of songs you’ve recorded, tell the story you’re trying to convey in your music.
No, that doesn’t include the story of your daily life going and getting coffee. I mean, use Insta-stories for that if you want, but your feed needs to be well thought out. Post less but with more intention over trying to post daily and just putting up crap.
Use it to tell the story of your music. Are you writing politically charged songs? Post snippets of newspaper magazines alongside lyrics you’re writing. Are you a band with a social conciounce? Make a quick inspirational video about something you truly believe in (and use your music as the background song). Get the idea? It should be fun and creative as well as working towards building your fan base and brand.
Don’t Be Afraid
I’m speaking from personal experience here. I feel like although I’ve been doing music for so long, that I’ve only just found my groove with my personal brand. I mean, I’ve always KNOWN what I like and what I wanted to be but the honest truth is… I was too scared to go for it.
I was afraid of putting out shockingly sultry images that were suggestive (but didn’t show anything). Scared of what people would think if I went all out and started posting pics with lipstick smeared across the mirror and a caption that said exactly how I was feeling…
but then frustration got the better of me. I was sick of half-arsing it and playing it ‘safe’. Yes I wore sparkly flapper dresses but it was too ‘clean’ and not edgy enough for my darker side. So I’ve finally… FINALLY grown the courage to start posting the pics that I want to post… and boy does it feel good.
Once you’ve discovered your brand, you’ve gotta own it. That means every time you’re music is on the line, you’re on ‘show’ so act and dress the part.
You are a performer right?
This means, every performance, every radio interview, every album cover, every social media post you need to keep your image consistent.
Going to a flashy event? Go as you… the ARTIST… wear the full get-up and get your fine self snapped by the photographer and get into the social ‘who’s who’ pages (because you’re outfit is so killer) and tell the to use your Artist Name. Its fantastic publicity and you haven’t even had to sing a note! That’s how many social media driven personalities started, so why not take a leaf out of their book and start being noticed.
Do you have another idea on how to develop your personal brand? I’d love to hear all about your antics in the comments below.
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