I was bouncing quips with a friend in my usual irreverent way, when she proclaimed, “Your brand is so strong. I love it!”
When I’d gotten over the self-indulgent waves of adoration (and who doesn’t like a little flattery once in a while?), I realized I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. Mind you, this girl lives and breathes marketing and branding, so her choice of words was hardly surprising. The point is, however, she was talking about me and my personal brand. I hadn’t thought of my ‘branding’ in a very long while, not since I departed the artist world all those ages ago.
Who’d a thunk it but that comment spawned much thunking. How I dress, the colors I choose, responses, my makeup, hairstyle, gait, posture, speech patterns, body language, car, hobbies, food choices etc. etc., all play a part in the package that people know as me. We’re ‘selling’ all the time, whether we know it or not. The ‘sell’ differs from situation to situation or person to person, but much of the core, which was no doubt established quite some time ago, doesn’t alter significantly. Sheesh!
So now let’s talk about you.
As an artist, how well do you know your own brand? How strong, unique and defined are your visual products?
Your image speaks, nay screams volumes about you, and more often than not, your band photo or profile picture is the doorway into your world, even before the guest on your doorstep, whether it be a fan, prospective collaborator or buyer, hears a single note.
Images are an integral part of your overall brand and rightly or wrongly, a high quality, compelling image tells people how seriously they should take you and your art. In this world of information overload, people will make snap judgments about you from your photo or lack of. You have most likely invested hours, and thus dollars, into your music, so why not your imagery?
The top artists, like the selection pictured here, have figured out what most reverberates within their creative essence and aren’t afraid to put it out there. Yes, it can take resolute courage to reveal your inner workings, as it’s highly personal, and guaranteed, not everyone in the world will be turned on by it or even understand it. Art is subjective and most people have an opinion, qualified, educated, emotional or otherwise. We can sharpen our skills of styling, balance, proportion, technique and so on but ultimately, it’s us as the artist and our art that sets us apart.
First Impressions Count
The initial impression your band photos or profile pics make will be front and center in the viewer’s mind, and it’s often a lasting one.
Have you ever considered how long it takes a person to evaluate another without exchanging a word?
According to a series of experiments conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it’s 0.1 seconds. Surprisingly, prolonged exposure to the same person does little to change that initial impression. Turns out, dear friends, that like it or not, we are at a subconscious level, unavoidably superficial beings!
Why A Great Image Is Key
“Elementary stuff!” you might say and you’d be correct but you may also be surprised to know how many users on our site do not have a profile pic or upload one that looks like it was snapped from 50 feet away by a passing jogger.
With a gazillion images flooding the internet each day (not a real stat!), what’s special about yours? Is it so unique, interestingly shot, enigmatic, haunting, alluring, controversial, beautiful, [insert your own adjectives here], that it stops the relentless online foot traffic and compels them to examine your world a little more closely?
Having a poor quality image, or worse, no image at all, tells industry professionals you either don’t care enough or don’t have your house in order, whether either is true or not. With so much choice out there, it’s very likely they will move on. Additionally, career opportunities can be, and often are, as fickle as Holly Golightly (ok, I’m betraying my age here or love of cinema), and will flit to the next door if you’re not prepared (and that would be a crying shame if you were perfect for it).
Who Expects You To Have Great Images?
Just about everyone! Music is paramount, of course, but the professional artist cannot market themselves without imagery and once again, most industry folk will make a judgment based on your image, before listening to your music. The ubiquitous internet ensures your presence can travel to places you never imagined, so why not take full advantage!
Where You Might Need Images:
• Established publications, press, and bloggers. Without a high quality, professional image, it’s almost impossible to get coverage
• Label reps, managers, radio programme directors, music supervisors
• Concert promoters, booking agents, performance venues
• Social media, band websites, posters, profile pictures, album artwork, EPKs (electronic press kits)
Best of luck capturing the beauty, essence, uniqueness, artistry and indefinable that is you and the good news? There’s only one you! So dare to be different folks, and if you’re feeling inspired enough to share links to your band photos in the comments section, that’s awesome too.
Cheerio until next time!
Need some inspiration?
And of course, I had to include these!