Are you unsure how to style yourself, or are you trying to work out what graphics would suit your act?
Learn how to create an image as a musician and the best ways to brand yourself as an artist for increased success. Clothes, accessories, digital design, social media, logos, your persona and passions all affect how you’re seen by the public (and labels).
In this article, we’ll outline some top tips on finding your own personal identity, helping you to go further in the music industry.
How to create an image as a musician
There are a number of elements that contribute to your image as a musician:
- The clothes/accessories you wear and how you style your look
- Your graphics, including album covers, wallpapers, fonts and logos
- How and what you post on social media
- Your musician persona – whether shy, outgoing, cute, sweet or even a bit scary!
- Any causes you back or ethics you maintain
Identifying yourself as a unique artist is one of trickiest things to get right as a musician. Your image is your brand. It’s one of the things the public is likely to remember about you. And it’s what will make you stand out even before they’ve heard you sing or perform. Consistency is key for musician image. You want the public to recognise your brand instantly if they click on your website, Facebook page or see you in concert. It should be obvious who you are.
Does image matter in music?
There are so many singers, bands, and musicians competing for attention, so every element of your act matters. The development of your image and identity shouldn’t be ignored. Music is very visual as well as audio.
To learn more about this, it’s well worth watching Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary Miss America. In this, she talks in detail about her identity as an artist and how her image has at times been affected under the influence of big labels.
How do I find my style as a musician?
So how do you create a style as a musician and how do you find your own personal image?
Your style should reflect your identity. The reason many singers have done so well is that they’ve created their own vibe and used it to their advantage. It’s not always about being the sexiest or best-looking act in the industry although that can help; it’s about having a style that reflects your personality and stands out. If you don’t understand what your style and image are as a musician, you can’t expect anybody else to.
Understand and identify your target market. Your singing and artist identity won’t be for everyone. As a performer, you will have to market yourself to a specific type of audience. To help you get your music in front of the people most likely to engage with your image and brand, you need to identify exactly who those fans are.
The more you understand your target market, the better you can create an image as an artist to cater to your fan’s needs. Ask yourself what your ideal fan looks like. By that we mean what do they like, what do they believe in, how do they see the world, and where do they hang out online?
How to dress like a musician
As a musician, it pays to think about what you wear. Famous musicians who appear to have just thrown on any old clothes, haven’t. Their looks are carefully honed, well thought out and aided by stylists. Your clothes must be suitable for performing – if you dance don’t wear anything too restrictive. They should be age-appropriate and suit you. Colours can have a real impact – some colour palettes may work better than others with your skin tone. What sort of items are you drawn to? Do any of them say something about who you are and what you’re into?
What does a musician wear?
There isn’t a straight answer to this. Some artists like Paloma Faith and Lady Gaga are flamboyant in their clothing. Others like Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi are casual and understated. Consider your genre and what clothes might suit your musical style – although you can break this rule if you do it confidently.
The best way to put together your gig wardrobe is to physically go out, perform in different clothes you like and see what you’re at home with. Playing at regular gigs will give you a sense of what you’re comfortable wearing and which outfits get a good response. This experience will help you to identify yourself as an artist.
Personal identity in music
Your image extends beyond your clothes and visual marketing too. It’s also about who you are as a person and what you stand for. Much of this will come across in lyrics and may be reflected in your choice of graphics. For example, if you’re an animal rights campaigner like Ariana Grande, Joss Stone, and Pink, you may want to include messages about compassion for animals in your social media output. But your identity will also show up in your clothes – maybe in a T-shirt with a message, or by adopting a clothing brand that backs up your own values.
This helps you to engage with potential fans who support the same ideals as you. But it should be genuinely you. Don’t jump on a bandwagon. Stating you’ve become vegan in a bid to win more fans will backfire if you’re caught out eating meat. And that will inflict damage on your reputation. But giving fans a sense of who you are what you’re about, will help to reinforce your branding as a musician. This gives you a relatable image in the music industry while identifying you as an artist with a very specific target market.
All of this will help you attract the type of fans who share your beliefs, who will support you, share your music and messages, and enter into long-lasting musician/fan relationships. How you come across is a huge part of your identity, but it may be an exaggerated version of yourself. Think about how you plan to come across in interviews and on stage.
Personal branding for musicians
It’s a good idea to create a press pack with consistent branding. Electronic press packs or kits are essential for any artist looking to create a consistent image in the music industry. It can be as simple as a one-page PDF with your details on, but the best press kits are a bit more comprehensive than that. Yours should include:
- Biography as an introduction to you, your image and identity – your story!
- Links to demos of your music.
- High-quality photography.
- A downloadable version of your logo.
- Links to your social media channels.
Once developed, you can give this to venue managers, press, booking agents, and anybody who you feel might help to further develop your music career.
Music artist branding examples
See how other artists define their brand. Check out some of the artists and musicians you admire and inspire you. What elements of their music branding and identity do you see jumping out at you?
YouTube and artist websites are a great resource to observe what others are doing.
Will.i.am and Adam Lambert are perfect examples of artists that have infused their creative personalities into their style to stand out. And if you ever want to switch up your genre, your image will be the way to do it.
How to stand out as a music artist
The way you identify yourself will, to some extent, lead the way to your image evolving organically. However, if you understand musician branding and have successfully found your identity, then you’ll be in a good position to deliver a consistent message, reaching even more fans. Singers like Madonna understand how important it is to roll with the times for an ongoing career. That will mean changing along the way, keeping up with trends and monitoring how you’re being received.
Once your websites and social accounts are up and running, you should monitor your brand online. Do this by checking out what people are saying about you and your artist image. Did you know that you can use Google Alerts and Knowledge Panel to get an email every time your artist or band name is mentioned on the Internet?
Artist image development
You’ve worked hard to create your brand and image as an artist, so it’s key to know what people are saying about you. By monitoring mentions online, it gives you the opportunity to respond if needed – to help further your image and identity. But also to get the feedback you might not otherwise get to hear. Be aware that trolls exist too. While it’s good to look for constructive points, be sure to completely ignore anyone who’s just being nasty. And learn how to differentiate between that and useful feedback, so you don’t take everything that’s said to heart.
It’s important that you can be easily identified as you. This shows up in the way you communicate, your social channels, branding, merchandise and at shows, with just one quick glance. Once you’ve achieved this you know you have your branding as a musician on point. Make a list of what you need to be doing to create your image as a musician – and take inspiration from others on how to identify yourself as an emerging artist. And be as authentic and real as possible. Fans will quickly turn off if your efforts feel forced and unnatural.
- What’s the difference between an artist and a singer?
Artist is an umbrella term incorporating anyone who makes music including rappers, vocalists and singer-songwriters. An artist is usually someone who works solo and upfront, rather than a backup musician or a band member.
- Do artists need logos?
All top musicians and singers have a memorable logo that’s recognisable by a quick glance. For example, if you see lips and tongue logo, you know it’s the Rolling Stones without seeing the band’s name. Your logo will be a consistent branding image for your website, social media, merch and press kit.
- Is image more important than music?
No, your sound is number one. However, image is important. It’s what sells you when you’re not singing. Therefore making sure you’re consistent with all aspects of your brand is essential, from the logos on your artwork to your social media to your outfits and promotional material.
How did you create your image as a musician? Perhaps it’s still a work in progress and you’re wondering whether you’re on the right track. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.