Think of the most successful gospel recording artists you know and you’ll discover that they have all been well branded. Gospel artists like Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin are at the pinnacle of their careers but along the way, and even now, they continue to promote a brand that resonates with their audience. Yes, they can all sing very well and even with an anointing (that divine supremacy that gospel music fans sense almost immediately). But most importantly, these successful gospel artists are well branded.
What exactly does it mean to be branded? It means they are known for something–a sound, a look, a phrase–that sets them apart from all other artists. Are there others who can out-sing or out-perform them? Absolutely! But branding has little to do with how well you sing and everything to do with how well you continually present yourself to the people you want to listen to your music. Here are three initial steps for branding yourself as an artist.
1. Discover what it is about yourself that really stands out. What is it that you do as an artist that you can build a brand around? Get feedback from your audience, producer and management. Define yourself as an artist so that people will associate you with that great thing that you do.
2. Identify a word, phrase, style of singing or even name that is synonymous with you. And, guess what? You don’t necessarily have to come up with the phrase yourself. In some instances, your name could be what you’re looking for. Although Grammy-award nominated contemporary gospel singer Kierra Sheard has dropped her nickname “Kiki”, most of us have to consciously not utter it because “Kiki” was so perfectly branded with her as much as the signature sound she inherited from her legendary family.
3. Create a logo or symbol that is uniquely yours. Marry yourself to your logo and it will be with you everywhere you go. When you do concerts or make appearances, your logo should be your backdrop. Promotional items such as t-shirts, mugs, pens and journals should definitely bear your logo.
Once you discover the branding that’s right for you, then you can proceed to saturate your audience with it. Wrap your SUV in it. Display it on all of your merchandise. Take every opportunity to promote your brand and watch in amazement as you begin to stand out from the rest.