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Identity & brand

Only 349 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!

Now that you know what genre you’ll do and what you will sound like, you’ll have to further work on your image and identity. In this subchapter we will focus …

  • your identity, and what you stand for,
  • your artist or stage name (no matter if you’re a solo artist or a band),
  • your initial web presence,
  • font(s) you will be using,
  • your logo (optional, but often a good idea),
  • colors you’ll use,
  • your look and visual style, as well as 
  • your photos and your biography.

All of this will be part of your brand, if you want. If you don’t know what a brand is, here’s a short definition:

A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others. – Wikipedia

Developing your identity and your own brand will be OVERLY IMPORTANT, no matter what kind of music you do.

Your brand will make sure fans will recognize you, and it will also help to get the attention of further potential fans. Your brand is important, and it has to be consistent with your genre, your sound, and your message. If I say “Pink Floyd”, then you’ll not only think of one or more songs (most likely Another Brick In The Wall Part 2, and maybe some others), but also of their album covers (The Dark Side Of The Moon for example), as well as other visual elements such as photos or live show objects maybe (just think of those giant inflatable puppets).

An artist is usually much more than just a name, a photo, and a song. It’s an entire package consisting of a large number of elements, which all represent the image and the message of the artist.

As an artist you will offer your fans an EXPERIENCE, and that’s usually a bit more than just your songs.

This experience needs to be AUTHENTIC and CREDIBLE, and it will also need to be both RECOGNIZABLE and DESIRABLE.

You will have to be SPECIAL – or cool, or hip, or dope, or fucking great, or whatever term fans will use in your genre.

Your fans must be proud to support you, as you’re simply the greatest artist on the planet. Your music will be insanely great, but you will also look like a real star, and all of your designs will represent all of this. Don’t forget that every single successful artist needs to work on those things, and even the Masters Of The Past did this – some of them got help by their manager(s) or their record company, while others were real marketing geniuses when it came to developing an own image (just think of James Brown, David Bowie, Prince, Michael Jackson, or Madonna for example).

Even those artists who were perceived as being "non-commerial” often excelled in this domain, such as Nirvana and The White Stripes for example. And even wierdos such as Frank Zappa had their own crazy image. And this is also true for all genres, including hard rock and heavy metal – just think of Back Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, or AC/DC, who all carefully designed their logos and put lots of energy into the fine-tuning of their highly recognizable visual elements. Even Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles cared about their own visual style.

So if you think that you won’t need to work on those things, then you already lost the game, and you will NEVER make it.

Your identity

I have already asked who you are and what you stand for, and that’s definitely a question you will have to answer. There are exactly four questions you will have to think of:

  1. What is my project about?
  2. Is my project’s subject consistent with my genre, my sound, my style, my name, and my look?
  3. Is the combination of all of this really unique?
  4. Is it all credible and authentic?

All of those questions will have to be answered, and the answer to questions #2, #3, and #4 will have to be yes. If it’s not, then work on those things until everything fits. If you take a look at the Masters Of The Past, at the Greatest Artists Of All Time, or even at most of the better acts of the Golden Age, then you’ll notice that all of them fulfilled all of those criteria, while today most artists fail when it comes to answering questions #1 (as they’re irrelevant) and #3 (as they’re all more or less the same).


Even if this is not what people recommend, and even if this is not what the music industry seems to be looking for. Remember that artists like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Queen, Aretha Franklin, Simon And Garfunkel, Elton John, Phil Collins, Metallica, AC/DC, Motörhead, KISS, Marilyn Manson, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Meat Loaf, or The Pogues wouldn’t get a record deal today. But that’s exactly the kind of weirdness you should be after.


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Chapter 4.3   •   Page 1 of 11

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