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The Essence of Branding in Music

You get just one chance to make a first impression, trust takes much longer however, and can only be achieved through steady consistency. Branding is the unholy matrimony of these two concepts. Unholy because it does not have to be morally true, but must be evidently consistent with regards how you wish to be perceived. Branding is you subtly and loudly sharing your unique selling point with the target audience, what makes you stand out from the crowd and a reason you should be chosen over others. Simply put, your brand is what you are known for. Within the context of global branding, companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, Uber etc have succeeded in creating a trusted and recognizable brand in almost every country around the world. Amongst other things, this was achieved through corporate identity, consistency, connectivity, localisation, adaptability and uniqueness.

Music is a mobile-human business where not just the service is seen as a product, but also the service provider, in this case – a musician or producer. Breaking into the music industry goes far beyond mastery of the craft or making great music. The package is just as important as the content. In some cases an artist’s appearance, aesthetics, and overall brand is what makes and maintains his/her relevance. These are artists we follow across social media with little or no interest in their music but still, there is a pull which eventually leads to conversion.

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“I’m not a Businessman, I’m a Business, man” is a famous quote which emanated from Jay-Z’s verse on Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix). These lyrics serve as a testament to the fact that although music is art, it’s equally a business in a multi-billion dollar industry, and for any business to succeed the salt of marketing needs to be added in the right portion. Music branding is often associated with the image of the artist, but it also encompasess the style of music, the artist’s values, fashion, inspiration, idols, live performance style, website, social media presence, choice of words during interviews and on social media, logo and even the artist’s stage name and aliases. Currently, the top three artists in the Nigerian music scene are clear examples of artists whose alternative names vividly depict what their brand represents. Burna Boy’s “African Giant” pseudonym serves as a bold notice of his aspirations, actual actions and achievements. Wizkid, also popularly known as “Starboy” is a superstar in every sense of the word. Davido was born and raised in wealth and affluence, this has been wholly embraced by the artist who is also called “OBO” (Omo Baba Olowo), meaning child of a wealthy man. Consistent brand management is important across board. Artist’s brands can be recognized from things as simple as font choice, instagram theme, color scheme or icons because their image and brand identity is so strong it has been ingrained into our culture.

The main marketing channels through which musicians can develop and hone their brand and image are: Merchandising – this is very popular within the nigerian alte music community. Live shows – are a part of Beyonce’s brand, with her performance sets often going above and beyond, giving her fans and the world memorable moments to live with. Social Media – This space is fuelled by content and to thrive, it’s imperative to consistently dish out engaging material. Content here is often in the form of humour, lifestyle, physical appearance, jarring statements to name a few.

A brand is not built overnight, it takes time, dedication, money. But of the highest importance are consistency, clarity and being deliberate.

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