The Benefits of Branding Yourself (as a Nigerian Artist) and How To Run Am

PS: Started writing this article last year and left it when I was about 70% done. But I decided to finish it up and share because Medium has now verified me as a Top writer in Music on the platform. I didn’t do this alone. I mean, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. So this win is for us all.

In case you have not heard enough, I’m here once again to reiterate that many Nigerian artists need to invest more in their branding. You don’t have any excuse not to. As someone who intends to carry the cross on behalf of upcoming and emerging Nigerian acts, here I am pointing out the benefits of branding and a detailed guide on how to go about it. If not me, who else?

All hail Haywenzo.

One thing I think is important to bring our attention to is that an artist doesn’t require large funds to start branding himself/herself. Although the availability of money certainly makes it better, the notion that you can’t properly brand yourself without money needs to be immersed in the ground. We have seen popular independent acts like Prettyboy D-O, Santi (before he was signed), Lady Donli with commendable branding.

It is also necessary to have an idea why branding yourself as a musician is paramount. What are the benefits that come with branding? Won’t you like to know? Relax. No be why we dey here so? It is easy for the benefits to be elusive. And it’s easy because musicians believe in putting all their efforts into making good music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it will definitely serve you well to have it in mind that making good music isn’t all that’s expected of you if you’re looking to make an impact in the music industry.

Here are some of the benefits of branding:

When you properly brand yourself as a musician, it is nearly impossible to be mistaken for another act. You become unique and music lovers can easily identify with you. Let’s take Lagbaja for example. I mean, you know where I’m going with this, right?

There’s nothing that fans love as much as an artist whose brand is well-defined. When it is undeniably evident that your sound and style doesn’t follow in the line of others, people develop a sense of loyalty, especially when your brand resonates with them on an emotional level.

One of the most reliable ways to earn big in the music industry is securing endorsements. You don’t need an expert to tell you that companies that are willing to spend big on advertisement (product placement) only associate with artists that have worked on making their brands sellable.

As it was mentioned in the previous article, branding is a form of marketing albeit a subtle one. Good branding means that you have made an impression on your fans so much that whatever you put out, they don’t ever hesitate to buy.

There are probably more benefits of artist branding. I can’t discuss them all. My apologies. As long as you understand the point I’m trying to drive home. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose if you focus on branding yourself as a musician.

What are the things an artist should consider when building their brand? Is this something you can possibly do on your own without the help of a professional or music consultant? I don’t see why not. It’s not rocket science. It just requires you to be more intentional and strategic.

The process of branding requires creative energy and it is mostly as exciting as making music.

These following steps, in no particular order, should serve as a guide to building an unforgettable brand:

I assure you that one of the very first things that your fans as well as music lovers will notice about you is your logo. Your logo has to be unique and attractive. If you don’t have a sense of design, consult anyone in your team who does. Any talented graphic designer should be able to provide you with a solid logo.

If the artwork for your song isn’t appealing, people will skip your music. It’s only logical. Humans are naturally attracted to what moves them. That’s the ultimate purpose of your artwork. It should convince people to listen to your music. Imagine when they enjoy what they listened to.

Even blogs and music websites will be hesitant about posting your music if the artwork is poor.

Usually, it is sensible to stick to a certain color palette. So that even before people see your name they can already tell that it’s you. And this should reflect throughout your brand; your artworks, merchandise, and website.

Try to pick simple colors that complement themselves. Your brand colors are a strong representation of your brand as an artist.

As an artist there has to be something that makes you stand out. Maybe it’s your sound, the way you talk, the way you dress. There has to be something. Focus on that very thing and hone it till it becomes a part of you. That one thing is going to be used to identify your brand in the nearest future.

It might seem like a secondary thing to do but you need a website. As your fan base increases and you attract more attention, your website is the perfect place to get all the latest information about you and your music career.

You can learn to build one for yourself or get a professional to do it (if you have a budget).

It would be dishonest of me to say getting press is easy. It is not. Especially when you can’t afford to hire a publicist. Although that shouldn’t deter you from seeking for some media coverage, no matter how small the platform might be.

Talk to bloggers you meet on social media or in your neighborhood. Don’t hesitate to reach out to interns at radio stations who have their own shows they host.

Don’t forget that you need an artist bio as well as press releases for when you want to drop new music. It might be more favorable to get an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) that you can just send out to journalists and media houses. An EPK should contain all the necessary information required to tell your story.

Your social media platforms are sometimes the most reliable way to communicate with an audience. Keep it professional and try to stick to a posting schedule instead of just posting (irrelevant) pictures at random.

Interact with fans who comment on your pictures or respond to your tweets or post videos of themselves vibing to your song. With the help of social media, your chances of getting new fans is high.

Music lovers know that you are not playing around when they see professional pictures of you. Not only will it be easier to recognize you, journalists and bloggers can also get pictures of you to use in their stories about you. Trust me, professional pictures say a whole lot about you.

What does it mean to keep a clean image? It simply means as an artist, nothing beats having an image that only elicits positive and happy emotions in people. A clean image guarantees securing an endorsement.

This is the last branding tip I have for you. I almost didn’t include it because not every upcoming artist has enough to budget for it. But if you can you should invest in merchandise. Even if it’s just your logo you print on shirts or caps, you’ll be surprised how far it can go.

These days, artists have more resources they can use to their benefit. A quick google search will reveal most of the branding advice you need as an upcoming act. If that seems like too much work to do and you can afford to get a professional in this field, don’t hesitate to contact them. Don’t hesitate to contact me.

untethered. let the wings of freedom take me to an unknown destination faraway from here.