Written by Gabriel Gornell
Gabriel Gornell is a branding, production, and distribution executive who has worked with countless artists that range from The Rolling Stones to Oscar the Grouch.
If your band’s attractive lead singer gets 300 likes for every pouty pic on Instagram—but you struggle to get 50 people to come to your gigs—you’ve got great reach but terrible impact. Same holds true for established acts just a few years out of their prime who have a respectable Facebook following—but struggle to get decent festival bookings.
Of course there are many factors involved in branding your music project (like the actual music for instance) but this post focuses on the importance of consistency.
Across the go-to social platforms, messaging from both established acts and emerging acts compete against millions of posts from hundreds of thousands of artists. Snoop Dogg alone puts up 5-10 Instagrams per day.
Further complicating, even if you do break through the clutter, ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ aren’t the only measure of your branding success. Don’t get us wrong—the reach you can get from Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook is awesome. But reach is not the same thing as impact. So how can your posts possibly stand out? Have any impact? And how can you convert ‘likes’ to ‘listens’ on a distribution platform like SoundCloud? This article explains why consistency helps.
The Van Halen logo will be our obvious example. This mark has changed very little since 1978, and regardless of who’s singing—it represents the Van Halen brand. Almost 40 years later, the Van Halen brand is so strong—they’ve survived 3 singers, internal feuds, Wolfgang on bass, and lots more. Obviously they back up their brand-promise with a guitar god, Diamond Dave, classic records, and a great mythology that all work together. But for the most part—long before social media mattered— they’ve been consistent with regard to their identity materials. They’ve actually been more consistent than The Rolling Stones who create a new tongue treatment for every tour and every album. In a sense, Van Halen has become the Coca-Cola of Rock n’ Roll branding. And here is why Van Halen-like consistency will help your music project.
Reason #1 The most obvious benefit of consistency is increased awareness because the more your audience is exposed to your brand—the better their chances of remembering it. And simply put, if you keep changing it there is less chance your audience will remember it. ‘Effective frequency’ is the marketing lingo for this. Understanding all the competition and clutter out there—even the old advertising ‘Rule of 7’ probably isn’t enough anymore.
The Rule of 7 states that a customer needs to “hear” a marketing message at least 7 times before they’ll buy that product or service.
Today most marketing experts put effective frequency numbers much higher than just 7 times. But wherever you think it is for your particular audience (7 times, 20x, 100x) one thing everyone generally agrees on is that messages are more effective when repeated. So don’t waste your brand impressions by being inconsistent!
The benefit of effective frequency and consistency working together is true across all entertainment mediums. Have you ever seen a televised award show where the show logo is different in the on-air promos, the step-and-repeat, and the animated show open? One show with three logos happens more than you’d expect (not mentioning any producer names). Not surprising, the network then wonders why their unaided awareness numbers are slipping. Partially they’re slipping because televised award shows have become boring as shit. But it’s also because their brand team doesn’t keep a watchful eye—and their effective frequency is watered down by inconsistent branding.
Reason #2 Consistency conveys your identity and attitude. A focused effort to establish and maintain consistent branding across all your touchpoints (social, website, SoundCloud page, EPKs, etc.) will deliver a specific set of impressions. Do you follow through? Will you deliver a decent bar tab? Will you get the ratings? Will you sell the tickets?
Reason #3 Consistency helps you manage perceptions. By thinking deliberately about your brand message and what you’re trying to accomplish—you control how people perceive your music project. This goes beyond your fans—it also helps manage what promoters, venues, labels, and sponsors think of you.
Reason #4 Consistency connotes professionalism and stability. Let’s be honest—labels, promoters, distribution partners, and sponsors hate instability. In 2017, even Guns N’ Roses show up on time—and all of their current materials reference their ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour with impressive consistency. So act like a stable organization!
Reason #5 Consistency eliminates issues surrounding brand confusion. For many emerging music acts (especially emerging DJs… no digs intended), their branding is actually more of a hindrance than a help. A consistent brand should instill confidence rather than prompt confusion. Which EDM artist was that again?
Reason #6 Consistency protects your investment. Without established brand standards—many labels, managers, and producers will spend thousands of dollars building a brand—only to have it degraded by inconsistent and sloppy application. Build equity in your brand by being consistent and build upon previous successes.
In a nutshell, be Van Halen. Be consistent.