Brand Identity: Honing Your Sound
Before you begin using marketing tools and strategizing, it is crucial that you develop your brand identity. Without a brand identity, you will be sending mixed messages to the world. After all, your brand is what will keep your fans returning, and is the foundation to building fan loyalty.
However, before you develop your brand identity, it is imperative you come up with a cohesive sound that is congruent with you. This may mean producing an EP or two to explore your musical virtue. Naturally, your music will evolve over the course of your career. However, there is a difference between evolving over the course of a few decades and changing your music over one year.
Artists in the very beginning stages tend to be malleable, and are constantly reshaping their music. It is my personal belief that artists in this stage should focus on the music, and keep their branding simple (yet invest in looking professional) so that they do not pigeon hole themselves too early. Some aspects of your brand (like your personality) will likely remain constant, but other aspects may change as your music changes (such as fonts and logos).
If you have honed your sound, now is the time to make sure you are branding yourself in line with that. This may involve rebranding, or starting from this point looking onward. If you have not quite honed in your sound, here are a few things to consider:
It is not uncommon for artists to spend years as one type of artist, when secretly wanting to do something different. This is because they did not do the internal work and listen to what gave them happiness. Give yourself the permission to make the music you want to make, not what you think people expect of you.
Identify music you love, and why you love it. How does it work? What instruments are they utilizing? Our work is often inspired by what inspires us. That being said, be aware of the difference between influence and imitation. It is very easy to imitate what you hear, rather than drawing elements from it. Explore your own creativity by being inspired.
Stay true to you. All great musicians have their own recognizable sound. This means there is some element that stands out - this could be your voice, guitar effects, the way you tune your amp. A signature sound is repeated not repetitive.
At the end of the day - you have to begin somewhere. This is your art. Your career. It will often take years of perfecting to get where you want to be. But you will get there.