Starting a business or embarking on any career path, especially one that requires authentic creative expression, is nerve-racking. It’s like trying to climb an ice-covered mountain, wearing flip-flops.
The challenges you’ll face come in many forms, pushing you back toward the bottom and creating resistance against reaching the top. Without a clearly defined plan and an understanding of the route to your destination you’re likely going to fail.
But what if you could trade in those flip-flops for mountaineering boots and scale the icy slopes to success with ease? What if your brand was the clearly defined path to the top of the mountain?
The scenario; in any saturated market there’s nothing more powerful than a brand that can authentically connect with a desired audience. Establish this and you already have a massive advantage over your competition – provided they haven’t already captured your customers with even better branding.
Consider that there are 4 levels to brilliant music business branding. They are levels of attachment your customers have to your brand. They might fall in love with your message right away, but they won’t always purchase your product or stream your music until later, if ever. So being aware of these levels will serve your marketing strategy indefinitely.
Level 1: Discovery
There’s a point in time when we all discover a new brand. It could be a trendy new record label, an innovative tech brand, a new festival, or an emerging artist. The commonality is always the spark, that initial moment where something catches our attention.
How this happens is the variant that differentiates mediocre brands from epic ones. It’s the defining first impression, like being introduced to someone who completely captivates you and draws all your attention. The intentional combination of aesthetics that seamlessly match with a compelling narrative.
So, what are people looking for in this first level? The simple answer; something cohesive that makes us want to know more.
It’s easy to create something that looks good, but something that plays the part within a story or compelling narrative perfectly – that’s the hard part. It comes in the form of something thoughtful that’s part of a larger picture and can be elaborated with more content or other engagements with your brand.
What do I mean by all of this deep crap?
It comes down to figuring out how you’re going to communicate your story in order to be discovered. You have to give people a reason to become a fan of your brand, and without a narrative it’s almost hopeless. So, this is always a great starting point.
Level 2: Connection
What’s the reason you want people to connect with your brand? Think of it from an outside perspective; why should people care?
Ultimately, we all want our audience to become part of our story, to place themselves within the narrative of our brand. To feel connected to the result and others who are experiencing the same things. After all, being part of a community or tribe is inherent – creating this connection as a brand is immensely powerful.
The mistake many brands make is they talk attheir audience rather than withthem. They fail to create conversations that lead anywhere but to a call to action. It’s a one-way dialogue of me, me, me and no time for you. We all know brands like this.
It really shouldn’t be difficult to get creative and find ways to engage with your audience. I’ll give you a cheat code; we all love music, start there.
Figure out the nuances of your audience and what would peak their attention to connect with your brand. Assess the channels you use and figure out what has worked and what hasn’t. Get rid of the shit that doesn’t work and keep doing more of what does. Treat the successes as a baseline and get creative from there.
Level 3: Engagement
Now is the time where you have attention. People are actually feeling like part of your family and they want to be heard. They want to feel like they matter. This is where they will engage. I don’t mean just like or comment on your content, I mean buy your music, purchase a ticket to your event, or download your new mobile app. Whatever it is, they are now a customer.
You have their buy-in and now it’s up to you to deliver.
It’s not difficult to figure out how to capitalize on this level, but so many brands mess this up. They drop the ball as soon as they get the purchase. Cue Ice Cube – “Check Yourself”. Whether it’s horrible customer service or a faulty product, if you’re delivering a bad experience, I have bad news for you, you’re not going to make it.
I’ll use our business as an example here, why not?
It’s in our set of values to always over deliver. To create an experience beyond the expectations of your customer. And to be honest, I don’t find it that difficult to pull off.
Even when we facilitate the first step in any of our engagements, it’s our mission to blow people’s minds. Having them come in with high expectations and leave feeling like they should have paid us more. At least that’s what some of our clients have said…
My point here is to go above and beyond. Pay attention to the details and what your customers or fans actually want.
Hint: If you want to know what they want, ask them!
Level 4: Loyalty
The holy grail of any brand; customer loyalty. To have every single person who’s engaged with your brand fall in love, not only with what you’ve delivered, but with what you stand for. It’s now engrained within them and they refuse to even acknowledge your competition.
The marketing gurus can regurgitate a list of today’s trendiest tactics to hold onto your customers for dear life. But it really doesn’t matter what you do if you’re not genuinely creating an emotional connection between them and your brand. All of the loyalty programs in the world won’t save a shitty brand.
You wouldn’t have made it this far if your brand sucks though, so let’s say you’re not one of those people.
I have a simple method to retain loyalty and for ease of remembering, let’s call it the switchback. It’s not complicated, you just need to go back to level 2. You have to treat them as if they are still in the Engagement level and you’re trying to impress them.
My late father used to say, “baffle them with bullshit”, and though he was very successful, I don’t agree with this. You have to think of it as a first date. If you can manage to be genuine, honest and polite (hopefully those are your natural traits), you’ll likely get a second date. You can fill in the blanks from there…
Once you get what you want you should continue to act accordingly, not lose interest and flake out (take note, this just turned into a dating blog).
Realizing that there are levels to brilliant branding is simple, you just have to be aware. You have to understand who your brand is on a deep level. You’re creating a persona and your audience needs to connect with that persona authentically.
Take the time to understand your audience and bridge the gap.
Take them on a journey through the 4 levels and then use theswitchbackmethod.
And if you want dating advice, feel free to email me ;)
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