Artists need a visual brand to support their music. Often, it’s the music that gets people to check out an artist, but it’s the brand that keeps them interested.
Think of the millions of people that follow Taylor Swift on Instagram and Facebook. Or better yet, think of the millions of people who follow every move of the Kardashians. People love artists for their personalities, brand, and public persona as much as they love them for their music.
Every artist who is making a go of a music career has looked into creating – or has already created – a professional brand. Hopefully, they've crafted a brand that works for them, but it’s quite likely that the attempt ended where it started.
Lately, I’ve seen more and more artists designing and curating their branding DIY style. While I was initially skeptical, I’ve come to realize the benefits of a DIY brand.
First off, there are problems with having a professional brand. It’s very expensive. It can come across as cold and impersonal. And you may end up paying a lot for a brand that you’re not happy with.
Having a DIY brand is definitely not for everyone. However, if you are interested, motivated, and have some basic skills in the visual department, you should try your hand and creating your own brand.
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Ultimate Creative Control
One of the primary reasons why artists go the DIY route is not having to entrust their vision to someone else. It’s very hard to rely on somebody else to enact your vision, and if you work at your skills, you can create a brand that is absolutely, completely, you.
A complete branding package will cost you big bucks. At least $1,000, but probably more. If you’re hiring a professional, it’s usually a smart move to work with a graphic designer you know and trust.
Your brand tends to be a personal thing for artists, as it represents your music, your art, as well as – to some extent – your personality. It’s important to have this represented accurately. The problem is, many artists can’t afford it.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a quality graphic designer for less than $35/hr. And when you’re making posters all the time, coming out with new content all the time, and releasing albums and videos, it all adds up.
Even when it comes to recording, a lo-fi, DIY sound can be much cooler than an overproduced, hi-fi sounding recording. Again, this isn’t the approach for everyone, but dating back to The Rolling Stones mobile recording studio, artists have been making lo-fi recordings that are somehow cooler than their hi-fi counterparts.
If you switch your branding to be more DIY, suddenly you can afford to create branded content whenever you want, and potentially with less effort.
It’s Easier To Maintain
If you don’t maintain your brand, you don’t have a brand, you have an expensive mistake. Much like music, a brand has to be seen over and over again for people to understand it and remember it.
Because you are making the content yourself for little to no money, you can easily maintain your brand.
It’s not hard to stick to a brand you created. Use the same font over and over again. If you’ve created a logo, put it wherever you can. If your pictures have a certain look, be it a filter or style, stick to it.
If you have found a voice that works for you on social media, keep using it. If you maintain a certain public persona that you like and can keep up with, keep doing that.
DIY brands are by nature easier to maintain than professional brands, because the onus is 100% on you to create and maintain your content.
Fans Grow With You
One of the best things about having a DIY brand is that your fans will become a part of your brand and be able to watch you grow.
Because you are responsible for making your content, you have the ability to do literally whatever you want. If you want to switch up your branding, or take a design course to improve your design skills, they won’t care.
Ultimately, if you’re making the content, people will still be able to tell that it is your brand and your creation.
Fans love to watch artists that they’ve “discovered” grow their careers. The fans who have been with you since day one will be the ones who stick with you and see you through all of your changes, and they will be the die-hard fans. People love a good story.
If you include your fans in the growth of you band, they will feel a greater connection to you as an artist.
Your Brand Feels More Authentic
While a professional brand may look good, that does not mean it will feel good. People can tell when a brand is contrived or trying to be something it’s not.
If your brand is DIY, it’s almost guaranteed to be authentic and true to you. It’s not going to be the right move or look for everyone, but for some bands it can work very well.
What Makes A DIY Brand Work
First and foremost, the style has to work for you. If your music is serious, your persona is serious, and you have an artsy style, this form of branding probably isn’t going to work for you.
DIY brands are by their nature less professional looking. You can be a “serious” band without having a “serious” style of branding, but if you are going for a darker vibe, you should probably go with a professional look.
If you have a DIY brand, you have to own it and you have to maintain it. You have to keep at it. Don’t let it falter and have fun with it.
Make your audience part of your brand. Reference things from you past and leave Easter eggs for your die-hard fans. Part of the fun of going DIY is just making it up as you go along.