Branding: How it impacts an artist’s career - Guladia

Branding: How it impacts an artist’s career negatively and positively

By: Guladia

Below is the full text of the speech by Guladia at the World Music Freedom Day event hosted by Shizo Entertainment Company

Except otherwise specified, artists, for our purpose, musicians, are business people, and I cannot overemphasize how much branding means to any business. In this contemporary era, no business can survive the pressure from the market without branding, and by this, I mean a strong brand.

I will endeavor to speak on the topic:

Branding: How it impacts an artist’s career negatively and positively

When you think of a brand, think of an identifying mark. You know, in times of old, owners of slaves used hot iron to mark their slaves so that they can be distinguished from other people’s slaves. Even nowadays, owners of animals have a way of setting their own flocks apart from each other's flocks by marking the animals, usually, they use very hot metal to mark the animals. Now, what’s important about this is that those marks become permanent, for as long as the animals are alive. When you want to easily understand what a brand is, think of it as a certain mark that distinguishes you from ‘the others’, for as long as you are alive. That means, it has to be something strong, something very unique.

Simply put, your brand is your identity: a name, a symbol of some sort, just some kind of feature that sets you apart. Some have a name, a logo, a website, a particular phrase, or a special sound effect. You know, when I was in Ghana, there was this particular producer, whenever a music he produced starts, you would hear something like glasses breaking. At first, I didn’t understand that. I asked one Ghanaian one day, why I hear glasses breaking when some of your songs are about to play. Somebody enlightened me that, oh, when you hear the glasses breaking, then it is this particular top producer… who is on the beat of that song. There are many examples of such.

More than being just a symbol, a brand is actually a kind of recognizable feeling that your fans would get about your work. So, this is why it really should be unique to you.

Now, let’s talk about BRANDING. As a musician, have you ever experienced this?: You appear somewhere and nobody shakes…nobody screams…or when you introduce yourself to somebody, they be like, “Oh wow! I have never heard about you before”? Or “I have never heard any of your music before”? How did it make you feel? Bad? Yeah. But guess why? That’s because of poor Branding. Now, this is where Branding comes in. Branding is more than just creating a name or a symbol for yourself, say you just sit in your room, and do some critical thinking and come out with a very unique name, and then you do the logo, you create the website, and you go believing that you are done with your branding. No, branding is way more than that. In fact, this is just a tiny part of branding.

You have to sell it to the world. Branding is your lifeline as a musician. It is your “what you do, how you do it and why you do it”.

Your branding strategy will help answer questions like:

***What do you stand for?

***What are you selling?

***How do you intend to sell it?

***Why are you even selling it?

***Who is your target market?

Branding is a bit more technical. It requires you having a whole branding strategy that you must bring to life; that your target market can identify with. This is why it is advisable that musicians should have Brand Managers. This is why some ‘Brands’ hire Branding Agencies. You see, the musician is the ‘Brand’, but the brand needs to come to life. That part is technical. That is the guard, the shaping of the brand; that is the PROTECTION of the Brand.

Never try to do your own BRANDING. It’s like you trying to climb into the ceiling and fix the electrical problem in your house when you are not an electrician, but only because you are able to screw a light bulb in its socket. No, branding requires professionals. Musicians need to understand today that a good amount of money must be spent on Branding. Spending money on your branding is actually an investment that will pay off well for you in the future.

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos put it so simply and so beautifully. He said “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

To get to this point, you have to invest, invest, and invest some more. You will have to invest in social media branding (which is a whole topic all by itself), you will have to invest in advertisements (radio, television, more), I mean, a lot…

Whatever you spend, know that there are actually lots of positive yields you reap from Branding:

Positive impact of Branding:

Loyal fans – with a strong brand, you can rest assured your fans are going nowhere any time soon.

Emotional connection from fans – fans never see anything bad about you. They therefore tend to gravitate towards your work as soon as you release anything.

Gain fans’ trust – fans always believe that what you produce is quality, therefore they will always be ready to buy what you have to sell.

Word of mouth promotion – when you build a strong brand, you then get a lot of help with advertisement. Old, loyal fans will win over new fans without you doing much of the work any more.

All these advantages ultimately lead to increased sales.

Only because a part of my task is to touch on the negative effects of Branding, but there aren’t much negative sides to Branding. 

Let’s look at a few negative sides to Branding:

Negative impact of Branding:

Negative Attributes

Sometimes one little error can tarnish a brand. The brand gets hit so hard that a whole new brand will have to be re-created.

Difficult to diversify

 Sometimes when you are known for a particular type of music, fans find it difficult to gravitate towards you when you decide to switch into another type of music. For example, if you are known for hipco and for some reason, hipco does not appeal to the listening audience any more. If you decide to switch into doing Gbema music or Raga, the fans will not be able to link you to that new genre of music, and thus, you may lose your fan base completely.

If you will forget everything I said here today, go with these:

Your brand is your unique identity. The branding process is everything you do to sell your brand and make it attractive to your fans, and this is technical, so never try to carry on this Branding process yourself. Hire professionals to MANAGE your BRAND. INVEST, INVEST, AND INVEST SOME MORE because you stand to gain a lot from professional Branding.

Thank you….


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