As musicians, we spend hours perfecting our music. The fine details count; whether it’s in the lyrics, vocals, individual melodies and riffs or sound quality and production – it all matters and adds up to produce a satisfying final product. But what about the visual brand behind your music too? There’s little point crafting the ideal sound if the same care and attention isn’t put into how your music is presented and marketed. After all, it’s the whole package that counts.
Visual branding is just as vital for musicians as it is for other major brands. Human beings are visual creatures; so representing your music in an optical way that’s consistent with the music style and personal values plays a huge role. So how do you gain a bigger audience by presenting it effectively? Knowing your image (and direction) is essential. You don’t need to go over-the-top fancy; but utilising a level of graphic and web design implies professionalism. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Understanding the Differences Between Graphic and Web Design
Designing for web and print are two very different experiences. Whilst graphic designers use composition to create images by hand and technology to capture an audience’s attention visually, web designers (or web developers) focus on the technical, behind-the-scenes structure of your online presence – your website. These industries can closely collaborate when the graphic designer determines the artistic layout of the website, but the web developer does the practical programing of the site and its code.
Images, fonts and resolution all differ between graphic and web design. How you interact with your online audience through the use of visual and written content will vary between hard-copy promotional material but should still keep a consistent tone and style throughout. Because web design tends to be more complicated; it’s a good idea to work closely with a developer to ensure web standards are followed and its 100% user-friendly.
Pleasing the Three Main Parties (and what turns them on)
To really perfect your music brand through graphic and web design, you need to get to know the three main parties – your audience, yourself and the search engines.
- Your Audience: Who your marketing your music too should play the most important role because after all, they’re the ones you’re connecting with. People thrive on clean simple layouts, bold relevant lyrics, crisp colour schemes and for web design; clear navigation and site structure, fast loading times, no banner ads and mobile optimised.
- Yourself: Your branding should impress you as well! Make sure it does what you need it too; whether it’s to gain more exposure, book bigger tours, sell your music or simply connect.
- Search Engines: Web design involves ensuring the site is found by the right people. Major search engines like Google will send out ‘spiders’ to crawl every page within the site and index. They help determine where and when to rank you in search results when visitors try to find you so keep them happy by utilising meta-tags and optimising all content for search engines (Search Engine Optimisation – SEO).
How Do You Look to the Industry?
For branding to be effective and visually impressive, consistency is key. Across everything from gig posters, business cards, press releases, social media banners and posts and web design, your music branding needs to correlate. Professional looking digital artwork is a must for booking and promoting music gigs at venues and through an online presence. Consider how you look to the industry and your audience and use graphic and web branding to:
- Stand out from other competitors in the industry.
- Look professional.
- Evoke a certain (positive) emotion.
- Utilise images, colours and fonts to express more about your music brand.
Like creating music, crafting an effective visual brand is subjective and highly dependent on emotions, personal goals and aesthetics. Working in both the music and online marketing industry, I know all too well the importance of a well-executed, consistent visual brand. Big companies will spend thousands on this sort of stuff! But it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to establish a tasteful music brand that works well for you.
The Basic Elements of a Musician’s Visual Brand
Research by HubSpot shows that visual content is processed 60,000 times faster by the human brain than text, making for better content and audience reach. And now more than ever – in a world that’s fuelled by social media – visual content is king. It’s a critical element of any brand’s presence and the music industry is no different.
A musician’s visual brand should consist of, but not limited to, these design basics:
- Two Primary Brand Images: A banner style cover image utilising a band / musician photo or logo and tagline and a square thumbnail (usually best to use the logo, to feature a new release or album cover) for social media purposes.
- Typefont: As with all major design elements, the font you use should be consistent throughout all design tools, printed materials and merchandise.
- Colour Palette: Select a regular colour scheme (no more than 2-3 main colours) that reflect your music style. Use these tints throughout your entire offline and online presence.
- Band / Musician Logo: Create one that’s unique, eye-catching and simple. Your logo should be a single graphic associated with the group or yourself, utilising a specific font for the name.
Graphic or Web Design? Where Should I Be Spending My Money On?
Graphic and web design work hand-in-hand together. Whilst not all branding and marketing services come cheap, there are many cost-effective options to help get your music brand perfected and visually heard. Determining which creative avenue works best for you depends on a number of factors including budget, audience, branding and promotional goals.
This is a post on behalf of Design City – a boutique creative graphic and web design studio based in Perth specialising in brand communications.