What these 3 artists can teach you about branding


A useful and informative article written by Patrick Foster, E-commerce Consultant at ecommercetips.org. Here, he gives you some tips and inspiration to ensure that your brand is memorable to the consumer.

Branding won’t make your music better, but it’ll make your art more recognisable and set you apart from your peers. The biggest stars don’t just have the best songs, they also have the best branding.

I’ve picked three of the biggest artists on the planet and explained why their brand rocks. Absorb their lessons and turn your music business into a memorable brand.

This article follows on from a previous MIA Article: Could your business learn from this brand success story?

Kraftwerk: Don’t over-complicate your brand

Whether it’s their red shirt-black tie image, or stripped back beats, these German robot pop pioneers say a lot with a little.

It’s a distinctive brand and sound they’ve used for five decades across ten studio albums — a brand which has helped them sell millions of records.

There’s actually a science to being uncomplicated.

Harvard Business Review explains that Google, Amazon, and Dunkin’ Donuts use simplicity to “cut through the clutter.” They get to the root of what their audience wants — which is then packaged into a clear image that’s easy to remember.

Simplicity is a tactic used expertly by Netflix, particularly in their copy. Head over to Netflix’s website now and this is what you’ll see:

Credit: Netflix

Netflix understand what it’s customers want – to be able to watch their favourite shows wherever they are – and that’s pretty much it. Netflix tells us what we can expect in 22 words.

Check out the video below to learn more about the value of using uncomplicated branding:

Nirvana: A playful logo spreads your message

Following from Kraftwerk’s brand simplicity is Nirvana. They’ve sold over 75 million records, have a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and are one of the few zeitgeist artists. The grunge legends also have an exceptional brand logo.

Nirvana’s smiley face first appeared on a flier advertising the launch party of Nevermind. That album changed everything in music. And that logo put Nirvana’s name on the map.

Credit: Flickr

Today it’s one of the most memorable logos on the planet. It’s the Nike swoosh of rock. The Coca Cola of disaffection.

What it shares with other great logos is its playfulness — it plays on the classic smiley face, subverting a popular icon. By mutating this classic icon, Nirvana subverted pop culture and created their own culture around their band. Being different made them the reference point for others to aspire to.

Spartan Golf Club is a student organisation associated with Michigan State University with a great brand logo:

Credit: Spartan Golf Club

To anyone unfamiliar with the Spartans, this logo will appear entirely golf-related: in silhouette, a golfer swings, and a trail curves around him to show the acceleration of the club. But anyone familiar with Spartan designs will see the second meaning: the golfer’s stance forms a face pointing to the right, with the trail serving as the plume of a Spartan soldier’s helmet.

Moosend is another example of a playful logo:

Credit: Moosend

The logo is fun, simple, and easy to remember. It references their name — Moosend — with the cow, and their product with the classic email envelope.

Apply playfulness to your own branding. Reduce your brand down to its base features — preferably no more than three — and use them to inform your logo.

If you’re really clever you can include a hidden message in your brand logo. Check out this great video to find out what these 16 brands (including Apple) hide behind their logo:

Ed Sheeran: Become your niche

There’s no place for bullying in the world. Ed Sheeran echoes this important message in his artist branding.

Ed was bullied at school for being ginger. He’s had his revenge on those bullies. How? By making his hair colour the focus of his branding. Ed saw what people recognised him for and owned it, as he explains:

“Being ginger can seem like a bad thing when you are young but as a musician it has been my saving grace – because if you see a ginger kid on TV and there is only one messy-haired ginger kid who plays guitar, it is very easy to find them on YouTube.”

Ed’s sold more than 100 million singles and 38 million albums. He’s done pretty well.

In 2015, he founded Gingerbread Man Records:

Credit: @gingerbreadmanrecords

The first signing to Ed’s label was Jamie Lawson. His debut album, Jamie Lawson, went straight to no. 1 in the UK. Ed’s second signing was Foy Vance. The first album he released through Gingerbread Man Records, The Wild Swan, cracked the UK top 30.

The Gingerbread Man Records brand has done alright.

Dollar Shave Club is an outstanding example of a brand owning its niche. The brand went for the razor market by offering a subscription-based service. It angled its branding around how cheap its product is, and turned being budget into a money spinner.

They created a viral ad which celebrated the product’s low cost offering, and mocked the idea that you need to spend big to look great. That campaign gave Dollar Shave Club an extra 12,000 orders in just 48 hours.

Check out the video below to see how Dollar Shave Club owned its niche:

Follow the lead of Ed and Dollar Shave Club by owning your niche. For help finding your niche, watch the video underneath:

These three artists have sold over 300 million records between them. But it’s not just because they make great music. Branding has played a big part in their success. Use the lessons from these three giants and get your branding right.