Branding for the Independent Gospel Artist: Three Ways to Differentiate Yourself
Think of the most successful gospel recording artists you know and you’ll find that they’ve all been well rated. Gospel artists like Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, and Donnie McClurkin are at the height of their careers, but along the way, and even now, they continue to promote a brand that resonates with their audience. Yes, everyone can sing very well and even with anointing (that divine supremacy that gospel music fans sense almost immediately). But most importantly, these successful gospel artists are well qualified.
What exactly does it mean to be branded? It means that they are known for something (a sound, a look, a phrase) that distinguishes them from all other artists. Are there others who can sing or surpass them? Absolutely! But branding has little to do with how well you sing and everything to do with how well you continually present yourself to the people you want to hear your music. Here are three initial steps to qualifying yourself as an artist.
1. Find out what really stands out about you. What is it that you do as an artist that you can build a brand on? Get feedback from your audience, producer and management. Define yourself as an artist so that people associate you with that great thing that you do.
2. Identify a word, phrase, singing style, or even a name that is synonymous with you. And guess what? You don’t necessarily have to invent the phrase yourself. In some cases, your name might be what you’re looking for. Although Grammy Award-nominated contemporary gospel singer Kierra Sheard has dropped her nickname “Kiki,” most of us should consciously not pronounce it because “Kiki” was as perfectly branded with her as the signature sound she inherited from her legendary family.
3. Create a logo or symbol that is uniquely yours. Marry your logo and it will be with you wherever you go. When you do concerts or make appearances, your logo should be your backdrop. Promotional items like t-shirts, mugs, pens, and journals should definitely carry your logo.
Once you discover the right brand for you, you can proceed to saturate your audience with it. Wrap your SUV in it. Show it on all your merchandise. Take advantage of every opportunity to promote your brand and watch in awe as you begin to stand out from the rest.