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Expanding Your Branding

By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder

I wished that being a successful songwriter was as simple as just writing exceptional songs. Unfortunately, it is not. McDonald’s are not the best hamburgers. Mercedes are not the best cars. Oreos are not the best cookies. Coca-Cola is not the best soda. But what they all have in common is that they have transcended being a product and ascended into marketing machines. \ How many packaged waters are there…something we can literally get in almost every home on the planet? Yet we value Evian for some reason. And then in an overcrowded water market comes Liquid Death. It’s water. That’s it. Just a cool name and great branding. If you never see another McDonald’s, Mercedes, Oreos, or Coca-Cola commercial, it will have little to zero impact on their sales. But by keeping their product and brand in the public eye, they manage to maintain relevance. Liquid Death will disappear…because it’s not yet established. Look… We’re speaking about them right now. Songwriters, artists, musicians, and anybody else creative are exactly the same thing. Your product is your art, but your long-term success is in your branding. If you have never seen the famous "sell me this pen" scene from the film "The Wolf of Wallstreet," I suggest you do. It’s a perfect example of concept vs content. Here are five key ideas to help you build your brand, make your name, and create your commerce.

Conceive Your Concept - Very few songs written will actually generate money. The concept of building your brand is as simple as just telling the story of who you are. On the assumption that you already write good music, the bigger concept is branding yourself in a way that gets you into rooms to collaborate, while having other people spread the gospel of your abilities. Just being a nice person, eager collaborator, and meaningful contributor almost always gets you another writing session. And the good word of mouth praise is the number one evangelizer that you need in order to expand your community. Create Your Content - As much as I could say I wish it was just about the songwriting, it’s also about the content that you are posting. Not just your own content, are you commenting on other audiences that need to know who you are? Building your following and your fanbase on social media is a meaningful and important part of your own marketing. What are you posting? When are you posting? What does your social media representation say about you? People are paying attention. Massaging Your Messaging - Branding yourself is about telling your story without having to actually tell your story. What I mean to say is by creating a version of who you are, and what you do, that in effect can function as your brand. Stay consistent with your messaging, and in no time you will begin to establish your brand. It’s never too early to start. Be deliberate and be consistent. If you are a producer, it doesn’t take much to build a reputation as someone who doesn’t finish tracks. Or maybe you are a to-liner that leaves the room as soon as your work is finished. Whatever you do…show up on time all the time. In as much as great branding builds…bad branding kills. Market Your Marketing Plan - Brands are not built overnight. Brands take years to season and become ingrained in the zeitgeist of whatever industry it is that they are trying to break into. The biggest way to brand yourself is to do good work and have people talk about you. Create a goal, and then all the strategies to get you to that goal. For example, if your goal is to triple your social media followers in the next 12 months, what are the steps that you are going to take to get? Every songwriter and artist is a business. Write a business plan and stick to it. Analyze Your Analysis - A key to establishing a successful brand is constant and consistent representation of your message. Be honest with yourself by taking stock of where you are at today. If it’s not where you wanna be, identify the weak spots and pivot away from those. Sometimes finding success in the music business does not mean succeeding on your own terms. You might love hip-hop music but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is your strength. It took me too many years to discover that I was best at writing music for film and television. Once I accepted that, the rest became easy. A friend once said, "do you want to be right, or do you want to succeed?" It took too long to realize sometimes the two do not intersect. The Coda: On its face, there’s hardly a discernible difference between Crest and Colgate. But there is a reason why someone chooses to brush their teeth with one versus the other. Why is that? Maybe it’s the aesthetic. Maybe it’s the way it tastes. Or perhaps it’s placement on the shelf at their local grocery store. Everything is branding. When you think of a luxury vehicle, think of the feeling it evokes. Louis Vuitton when confronted with the fact that there were millions of knock-off handbags being sold embraced it. They knew that the more "fake" bags, the more valuable the real ones would be. In a world full of fakes, what does your brand say about you? See you next week, until then keep writing them hits!


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