Artist Branding Playbook - Part 6 - Make a Strong Impression

Your name, logo, symbols, and colors speak volumes.

Choosing the right artist name and visual aesthetic is crucial for your identity and brand.

It's a representation of your music, personality, and the connection you are building with your audience. Even if you have already established your name, this post has a lot of useful information about other components of your brand, such as how to use design principles to craft your visual identity.

So feel free to skip the first section if you already have an artist name you love, but don’t miss out on the rest of the info!

8 Principles for Finding the Right Name

When crafting your artist name, consider these principles not as rules but as tools to help you carve out a niche in the music industry.

The right name is a powerful part of your brand that communicates your artistic identity and connects deeply with your audience. It's worth investing the time to choose a name that builds a strong foundation for your music career. Here are 8 principles to consider:

  1. Make It Easy to Tell Someone Else: Your artist name should roll off the tongue effortlessly. It's essential for word-of-mouth marketing, which is the most important and effective type of marketing. You have to make sure that, when someone talks about your music, your name is easily communicated without confusion or the need for repeated clarification.

  2. Make It Easy to Spell and Find Online: In the age of digital music consumption, it is best if your name is spelled how it sounds. This reduces the friction for potential fans trying to find your music on streaming platforms, social media, or search engines.

  3. Make Sure It’s Not Already Taken: Originality in your choice ensures that you stand out and avoid legal complications. A unique name minimizes the risk of being confused with other artists or facing trademark issues. Artists are often forced to change their name because of infringement on another artist’s trademark. I am sure you can imagine how frustrating that would be.

  4. Make It Sound Unique: Beyond being original, your name should carry a uniqueness that captures the essence of your music and persona. Need a refresher on the meaning of your brand persona? Read Part 3 - Perfect Your Persona. Your name should set you apart in a crowded world, hinting at what listeners can expect from your sound or storytelling.

  5. Brand It for Your Target Audience: Tailor your name to resonate with your ideal fans. It should reflect the genre, sound, and vibe of your music. If you make hard rock, you probably won’t choose a country name like ‘Lonestar’.

  6. Give It Some Feeling: Your artist name should evoke emotions or imagery that aligns with your musical identity. Whether it's a sense of nostalgia, excitement, calm, or mystery, the name should leave an emotional imprint on your audience.

  7. Make It Familiar: A name can be unique and still incorporate elements of familiarity that help your name stick in the minds of your audience. This could mean using common words in an unusual context or even common last names. A good example of this principle comes from an artist that I recently helped with a rebrand. He ended up going with the name ‘Kash Kennedy’ because it it sounded familiar - like an artist we already know.

  8. Make It Memorable: Last but not least, your artist name should be memorable. It should catch the listener's attention and stick in their memory long after they've heard it, making it easy for them to recall and recommend to others.

Remember, your artist name is often the first impression you make on listeners, promoters, and industry professionals.

It's a key component of your marketing strategy, influencing everything from your logo and visual identity to the tone and direction of your promotional materials. A well-chosen name can enhance your visibility, make your marketing efforts more effective, and ultimately contribute to your success as an artist.

Tips for Dialing in Your Brand Aesthetic

Your brand aesthetic should be a true reflection of who you are, what you represent, and the core message you are sharing through your music.

It encompasses everything from your logo and symbols to your chosen colors, typeface, and typography. These elements should not only resonate with your artistic identity but also appeal directly to your target audience, creating a sense of belonging and connection.

Choose Your Brand Colors

Colors play a pivotal role in your brand aesthetic, invoking specific emotions and perceptions. Experiment with color palette tools like until you find a combination that feels right. Remember, the colors you choose will communicate your brand's personality and should align with the emotions and experiences your music delivers.

See the chart below for an overview of ‘color psychology’ and what each color represents.

Select Your Typeface and Typography

‘Typeface’ is what most people are referring to when they say the word ‘font’. In reality, the font is the specific size, weight, and style of the typeface. So the typeface might be Arial, but the font would be ‘Arial size 12 bold italic’. 

The way that you combine your brand’s chosen typefaces, the spacing and colors, and all of the other elements of your selected font would make up your chosen ‘typography’. 

The typeface and typography you choose for your brand must be legible, distinctive, and aligned with your artistic style.

Whether you opt for something elegant and sophisticated or bold and edgy, these elements will significantly affect how your brand is perceived. Use sites like Google Fonts or Adobe Fonts to find typefaces that reflect your identity, and ensure they are compatible across different design platforms like Canva and Squarespace.

Here’s an example of typography that we used for one of HOME’s first sticker designs. HOME’s typeface is usually either Montserrat or Effra, but we used other typeface options in this graphic to achieve a more ‘designed’ look:

IMPORTANT: The typeface and fonts you choose will influence the readability of your message and/or your name. If something looks really cool but people can’t read it, then it will negatively impact the potential for people to share about you and find out more about your brand. 

Design Your Logo and Symbols

The logo and symbols you choose become a visual representation of your music and vibe.

These elements should be unique, memorable, and capable of conveying the essence of your brand at a glance. Whether you decide to design these yourself or hire a professional, it's crucial to approach this process with a clear understanding of your brand's core values and attributes as we discussed in parts 2 & 3 of the Artist Branding Playbook.

Unless you are an experienced graphic designer, then I would highly recommend hiring a professional for this process.

You will likely get the best result if you have the budget to invest in a notable, local graphic designer that will spend some time with you uncovering your brand’s message. However, the easiest and most affordable way to get a logo done is through a service marketplace such as Fiverr.

It is also worth mentioning that there are now AI logo generators that work fairly well to create a ‘mockup’ (preliminary design) that you can share with your designer. One generator that I have used is called Looka.

5 Principles of Design

Understanding and applying fundamental design principles will enhance the effectiveness of your brand aesthetic.

Principles such as emphasis, contrast, and balance ensure that your brand's visual elements are harmonious, impactful, and aligned with your artistic vision. Each design choice, from the layout of your website to the style of your cover art, should be made with these principles in mind.

  1. Emphasis: Involves highlighting the most critical element or idea in a design. It directs the viewer's attention to the central theme or message you wish to convey. In branding, emphasis can be applied by accentuating your logo, tagline, or any other vital brand element. The goal is to make the right element stand out, ensuring it captures and holds the audience's attention. This principle also relates to the importance of simplicity and the removal of any unnecessary elements that might distract from the core message.

  2. Contrast: High levels of contrast can make certain elements 'pop', enhancing the overall impact of the design. In the context of branding, contrast can be achieved through color choices, typography, and the use of negative space. For instance, a light brand color would stand out against a dark background, and vice versa. Ensuring your colors and typefaces complement and contrast well with each other is crucial for creating an engaging and readable design.

  3. Balance: Each element within a composition adds 'weight' that can attract the viewer's eye. Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, creating harmony and stability or dynamic tension within the design. Achieving balance means thoughtfully placing elements to ensure that no single part of the design overwhelms the others.

  4. White (or Negative) Space: The use of white or negative space is crucial for preventing designs from becoming too cluttered. This empty space around design elements allows them to 'breathe', making the design more effective in drawing attention to the intended focus. Negative space can enhance the clarity and impact of your brand's visual message. It can also be used creatively to incorporate hidden symbols or meanings that add depth to your brand identity.

  5. Unity: Refers to how well all elements in a design work together to create a cohesive whole. It ensures that the brand is perceived as a single, unified entity rather than a collection of disjointed parts. Consistency in the use of colors, typefaces, and design styles across all brand materials is key to achieving unity. This coherence builds a strong brand identity that is easily recognizable and will build trust with your audience.

Crafting Your Tagline

The final step in defining your brand aesthetic is to create a tagline.

Taglines are short brand slogans that often appear with your logo or in the messaging of other designs.

The tagline should be as short as possible while still communicating something important to the audience. One of the best taglines of all time is Nike’s ‘Just Do It.’ Using the principles from Part 5 - Tell a Story, you can see that this tagline puts the customer at the center of the story and inspires them to take action toward a transformation.

Taglines can often be clever or funny as well. The main goal of a tagline is to make someone stop what they are doing and focus on your brand. It is also good if it sticks in the customer’s head by using a rhyme or silly statement like the tough Timex watch that ‘takes a licking and keeps on ticking’. 

Have fun with this stage of the process and come up with something that is bold, original, and authentic to your brand. 

The current tagline for HOME is meant to communicate the fact that the organization is built around the needs of creators.

Where creators come first.

HOME’s current tagline

In an industry that often turns artists into commodities, we want to make it clear that we put creators first in everything we do; from the design of the facility to the programs we offer.

Coming Up Next…

After completing this stage in the branding process, you should be ready to use your colors, logo, typeface and tagline to create a great business card, one sheet, website and/or EPK (electronic press kit).

But that is not all that you will need to make a great first impression. You must also make sure you have the right messaging.

When you hand someone your business card, what are you going to say?

Having a great elevator pitch will make you memorable to each person you meet. It will give them an immediate sense of what you do, whether it is relevant to them, or whether it might be helpful to share your information with someone they know.

So stay tuned for next week’s post where we’ll dive into the process of crafting your elevator pitch!

Do you need help with your branding and marketing strategy?

Book a breakthrough session with me, and let’s apply these principles to your brand so that you can build a massive army of raving fans!

Hit this link to schedule with me. Results guaranteed :)