12 January 2013

Diana Krall & The Importance Of Branding

Diana Krall & The Importance Of Branding

Not everyone likes thinking about art in technical terms. For many artists, 'branding', 'marketing' and 'advertising' are corporate words that have no place in the creative sphere. But the music industry is changing, and without a proper understanding of these concepts, artists can get left behind. In fact, the success of every single business in the world - whether it's a corporate giant like Coca-Cola or an unknown rock band gigging the club circuit - depends enormously on developing an understanding of the importance of brand.

Branding has been playing on my mind ever since I came across the cover of jazz singer Diana Krall's new album in a high-end department store recently. I hadn't heard the music, and I knew little about the record, but I got this unshakeable feeling when I saw the album cover. The advert was clearly just one element of a larger marketing campaign but, studying it closely, I couldn't help but feel that the branding wasn't right for the artist. She was being presented as a pop star, it seemed to me, and her true spirit - that of a serious jazz singer - appeared to have been lost somewhere along the way.

Now I'm far from an expert on this subject (and I'm probably simplifying the issue) but, as my grandmother used to say, "Advertising is the core of a business". And it's truer now than it ever has been. When you start out as an artist you have to remember that, on top being your own brand, you need to have some kind of strategy for building that brand, for nurturing and developing the ways in which fans see you, feel you and connect with you. It's this magical process - the intangible way in which people develop a connection with an artist - that leads to fan loyalty, and ultimately to record sales. The image you project is a delicate combination of who you think you are and who others think you are, and this can be very difficult to get right.

Once you do get it right, however, you can feed it into everything - your image, your logo, your attitude, your way of speaking, writing and performing, and much more besides. It'll also inform the way you present yourself on the web, and as a result strengthens the relationship you build with your audience. Essentially, branding is the way in which you convey who you are to your fans. It's as simple as that.

Now and again, a well-branded artist builds the momentum to achieve a market crossover, conquering different genres and attracting new followers. This is wonderful when it happens organically, but if the artist themselves isn't satisfied with the success they've achieved, their true spirit can get lost and this can upset their original fanbase. Ultimately we'll have to wait and see if Diana turns up at the Grammys again in her (in my opinion) somewhat unconvincing pop guise - or whether we're more likely to see her prancing around the stage like Beyonc√© in a sold-out stadium. Only time will tell…!