12.13.2010

Build Ya Brand 101


Although I didn't write this article, I'm posting it because it contains some good pieces of information for all my aspiring business-people. I want to give a big shout out to Tia over at Sarcastic Renegade for putting this together. I missed the deadline and didn't get to contribute (daggone Christmas shopping) but it has good lil tidbits from some V.I.P.s across the state. Give it a read after the jump:


{DEFINITION} Brand: the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, sign, symbol, color combination or slogan.

10 years ago the market was entirely different from today. Personally, the ways I consulted with artists was hands on. There was no Facebook, there was no Twitter, just email and Soundclick. I would spend hours, sometimes days in studios with artists while using a pen and pad to organize and construct plans for mixtapes and my phone was an old Motorola used only for calling after 9pm. May I remind you I was a Sophomore in High School as well. I know. I was the shit. One thing that hasn’t changed is the way we see a BRAND and the ways they are built and used for consumer and value increase.

I decided to get a viewpoint or two from Hip Hop Journalist and my mentor, Sha’Linda Jeanine of K97.5 (Raleigh). She’s a part of the Radio One staff, a Journalist for HipHopDX, AllHipHop, Yo! Raps, & Hip Hop Weekly Magazine, just to name a few. I asked for her input. My first question, “What is your take on the term BRAND?”

“A BRAND isn't something that you can be; it's something that you already are. Now granted, a person can be a walking brand right now, and not even realize it because they never nurtured or cultivated those qualities enough to bring them to the surface. But once you do brand yourself you'll find it was in you all along.”

You have to clearly know your brand by having it well defined, no generic shit. You should shape and carve it out to your personal liking. After you define it than claim it, and wear it proudly every day damn. I think that the Carolina market is simply that, "a market." You can come here and shop around and select this type of artist or that type. Maybe you want a dash of perspective or a sprinkle of gangsta so this market has a variety and allows you a wide selection.”

#MUSIC101, create a business plan and blueprint your “visual”. If you can write out your thoughts onto paper into a step by step format, you should easily be able to see a goal and start taking steps to accomplish it while stamping your mark down the path.

I then decided to ask one of my bosses and another mentor, Marketing Guru and Marketing Director with Stall & Dean and Rucker Apparel, Rikers, what common mistake does he see in branding within the Music Industry and what advice does he have. His response, 

“The biggest problem is that the Artist (commonly) doesn't understand that "they are the brand". So they resist the task at hand destroying the whole process. My advice is to listen to the professionals... Don't allow broke people tell you how to be successful. There's a reason why they are broke... Pay attention.” (http://stallanddean.com Follow @stallanddean)

Branding seems easy but it will not and cannot happen in the snap of a finger or the twist of your hip. In fact, many often find ease in creating a visual icon and attracting large groups of people. The problem comes with consistency and the key fundamentals to keeping that same attraction.  If you get it correct from the very beginning you decrease your chances for failure and even the chance of juggling various solutions in time.
What other effects are predicted within the Carolina Industry? I’ll let Sha’Linda take the mic on this one,

“Make no mistake there is no Carolina Music Industry. Why?? Because there is no consistent production that can produce sales here. There are so many talented acts here, but the system that we surround ourselves with is no good. You may say that there is no real system here for an artist and that, my friend, is within itself- "a system." It's a system that is deprived and lacking. We pretend to ignore the fact that we as a whole unit are each responsible for the poorly structured entertainment business in our state. Yet it engulfs each of us as we cling to survive in this (so-called) movement.”

“The Carolina Entertainment Industry already has a "brand". That brand is "Coffin Music;" either the music is bad or it's good but will never make it to a substantial A&R and receive an advance. I see so many people wanting to further & push their own brand yet disguise this as being a part of the collective rat race to put Carolina on.”
 
Did you get what she just said? Carolina is full of so many people disguising their own brands as the “we gonna put on NC” brand. No one is really trying to put on NC or else we would see more unity within this state. You would be able to link up with another label or so-called “movement” and combine your projects together without someone thinking, “Ours is better. We don’t need their little project.” Anyone gotten angry at what I’ve said yet? #SENSITVE

Back to you Sha’Linda,  
“Yes you can have an individual brand, but be compelled to tie it into something greater than self. There are few key leaders within the state that tirelessly do play their parts. I salute you, and have no problem admitting that you are my true role models. If you do not wake up each day and live making real substantial moves to advance your own musical careers that will also aid in the movement, I’m clearly not talking to you.”
 
Which brings me to someone else I decided to bring into the conversation tying in the main factor of having to LIVE YOUR BRAND. Publicist and Management for Glass Kandii Models, Kay Harris, has been branding her role as a Publicist and brought plenty of attention to the title. I share a common duty with the term and although our roles are often overlooked, publicists, PRs, press agents and media consultants are key components to successful branding. I asked Kay, "What is the most important advice you would give to someone wanting to start branding a name, company or tagline"?

Personally one of the things I think are most important is that personal branding is a lifestyle, not an adjective- you must have a set of values and organized principles.” (http://publicistkayharris.com)

Allow me to elaborate; your brand is your lifestyle. It represents you. You must treat it like you treat- your lifestyle. Your brand is like the name your parents gave you, for a loss of better examples. You can’t just put it out there to fend for itself. Like Sha’Linda said earlier, “If you do not wake up each day and live making real substantial moves to advance your own musical careers that will also aid in the movement, I’m clearly not talking to you.” We’re clearly not talking to you. Clearly. Totally not talking to you.

Here comes the Sarcasm (read at your own risk)

After some months of observation and researching on this subject, I’ve pinpointed 5 main factors that I personally recommend. You may not agree but this is my article and not yours. 

-First, make sure you “deliver the message clearly”. Don’t confuse your consumers/audience. If you say you’re a rapper AND a business man, people should be able to conduct business with you and you should be able to distinguish yourself from your “rapper” image and your “business” image. 

-Be able to “confirm your credibility”. I’ve written plenty of times about how you can’t just TAKE credit. Credit is given within any industry, even politics. If you take credit from something, be able to have some referrals with their own credibility to back up what you’re taking credit for. From your resume to your customers, your credit has to be the majority rule.

-Don’t just exposure the “brand” to your audience, “connect your targets emotionally”.  How do you think companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds succeeded all those years back against all the other competition? They didn’t just make an attractive, eye catching logo and a cool catch phrase, they established and built a relationship with their consumers. Relationships are built on emotion. A business relationship is like any another relationship in a human beings life and you have emotional attachments with them. You just have to learn to control and balance them. 

-My favorite tip, be able to “motivate the consumer” or motivate your audience. Your brand feeds off the motivation you use to magnetize the consumer. Let them know “why”, “how”, and “what”. Your brand is at the top of the rope in gym class and you have to motivate your consumer to climb.

-Lastly, “concrete your users with loyalty”. Oh yea. I went there. You got to be loyal to your consumers, audience and clients. You have to be loyal to the people you do business with and remember business is personal but should never be taken personal. We all want our publicity and exposure but we have to also remember all publicity is NOT good publicity because our brands are linked to our business affiliates and consumers. If you’re brand is about Shampoo that strengthening long hair, don’t hire a woman with a low cut for your ads. You need a team and your team needs to be loyal and all on the same page. This is not high school, this is business.  

"I think a lot of people misunderstand BRANDING from the stuff they read on the internet. If your angle is to make money through entertainmen,t you should be focused on building a good PRODUCT and then getting endorsements through people who really have BRANDS instead of pretending like YOU are a brand. Create a PRODUCT which you can BRAND. “–DJ Supreme Kiss 101.9 (New Bern Follow @djsupreme)

And now, my Christmas present to you: The Build Ya Brand Mixtape; Released in the end of September with a host of artists from across Carolina. Some known for having the leadership and motivation to build strong brands and some new, paving their way to brand their names and images. Hosted by DJ Dellmatic, Carolina Blew and co-hosted by Nikki Nicole.

"You shouldn't just invest in your brand because the internet allows you to do more stuff free. One must still invest in them self to prove that they are equal, if not better than the competition." -Travis Timmons, CEO/Founder of GotHaze.com

YOU MUST BE WILLING TO RISK EVERYTHING!!!!” –Carolina Blew http://carolinablew.blogspot.com Follow @carolinablew1)

"First thing is to be visible... people need to be able to see what you are doing! They need to see you out at shows, they need to see your music (mixtapes etc...), and they need to see how you present yourself along with the product you are pushing. You gotta be active and really stand behind what you are doing or nobody will notice you!" –Dj Dellmatic (Follow him @DJDellmatic)

FREE MIXTAPE DOWNLOAD
http://www.sendspace.com/file/rg3en4

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