The Most Important Key To Success For Any Artist: Building Your Brand

After years of performing across the country and schooling along the Eastern Seaboard from Boston to Miami, I’ve watched men and women transition from hobby to profession in the performance world. I’ve seen many fall short of the mark and many win.

Here are three of the highlighted traits that I’ve seen performers harness, helping them rise toward success.
1. Hustle
2. Talent
3. Building a strong brand

Cat Beach

When you are working toward a goal, really working, there is no stopping you. You can feel it,
taste it, touch it. That’s what hustle is! Do you have that passion and commitment for a goal?

Start with getting one and fighting for it with everything you’ve got! Of course, you have to back up your goal with talent. You aren’t going to make it as a musician if you can’t play an instrument, therefore keep it real and hone your talent(s). No matter what your talent is, keep training and learning. Last but not least, and the focus of this feature, build your brand.

How do you present yourself to the world? What’s your logo, message, voice, visual, and sound. Let’s dig in!

As a former musical theater actress, classical actress, and current singer/songwriter, I have seen how important it is to build your brand. While it may ebb and flow over the years, the ones that stay the course are rooted in a strong foundation.

Let’s pare it down before we get into the nooks and crannies.

Sell it! If you want people to buy your product, you’ll market seamlessly. In the performance world, you are selling yourself and sometimes your biggest roadblock is you. It’s hard to look at yourself objectively and know where to start. We see ourselves one way, how do others see us?

What can we control:
1. Visual
2. Sound
3. Energy
4. Smell

What do you want to show the world? What is your unique visual? Color palette, typography,
design style, photography, video, and illustrations. As a vocalist and performer, your sound
represents what genre and what messages? What does your energy do to a crowd? Do you
relax, motivate, empower? The emotions carried forward by your energy can be linked back
to your color palette. Each color evokes specific moods – reds, oranges, yellows energize,
while greens blues, purples relax. Surprise! See how it all correlates?! What part does smell
play in your package?

Photo Credit: Prateek Katyal

This wonderful and perhaps least thought of side to branding reminds me of a fantastic performer from Boston. She sounded like, and had the energy of, Janice Joplin. We were in acting school together and I remember her raw 1970’s look. What stayed with me was the energy she brought to each performance emotionally and vocally, and part of it was the smell of her perfume. It stood out to so many around her whenever she was present. She was constantly asked, “what is that scent?” It was the wonderful faint aroma of jasmine and patchouli. It worked perfectly with her 1970’s energy and the sound of her edgy Janice Joplin voice. Her clothes conjured up a Woodstock moment and it was perfectly packaged. It has stayed with me for over 25 years.

We all have a visual, a sound, a specific personal energy, and a smell. Your job is to build those characteristics in yourself and find a way to share them with the world.

Make no mistake they all work together in branding and will help you stand out in a crowd.

Artists use all the senses when selling themselves. Look at the top tier of musicians and movie stars today. They overlap into many other markets to make money and further their brand. Markets such as perfume, fashion lines, books about their story, and exercise routines or diets that shape their bodies. Every single part of their unique selves has a value.

To drive this point home, let’s take a moment to visualize an icon in the country music world. Close your eyes with me and think about Willie Nelson. Really grab his visual. What comes to mind? For me it’s a storm of senses that jump out instantly. His hair, long and pony-tailed, a bandana across his forehead, jeans and a well-worn t-shirt. You feel the warmth, kindness, and experiences well-lived in his voice, each lyric portraying a part of his life story. The smell of an herbal life that says, “let’s sit down and shoot the breeze for a while.”

It’s authentic. He is not a cultivated artist that changes his look every ten years. His longevity and authentic branding works perfectly for him. All of these things make up Willie Nelson’s lifelong package.

That’s just one of hundreds of thousands of branding success stories. You can be the next one!

Photo Credit: Dylan Mullins

What will the world see in YOU? What is the message in your branding? The most important
thing that I can impart, is to be courageous and fearless in creating your brand. Be YOU! BE
YOU 111% and love it. We have so many stories meandering through our heads about what’s
right and wrong, what body to have, what clothes to wear – everything is a swirl. Only you
know this inner light, so take some time to sit down and create what is essentially and
uniquely YOU! Only then, will you have a package that says, “Hello world, here I am!”

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