The idea of creating a brand for oneself can seem daunting, elusive, and paradoxical. Your first reaction might be, “I’m a person, an artist- not a product.” However, contradictory as it may seem, building a brand helps define your unique voice in this crowded industry and makes your artform accessible to those who are unfamiliar with it. Branding makes you more relatable to a wider audience while honing in on your strengths.
Before we can create a well-rounded and authentic brand to present to the public, we must first spend time investigating our work in the field. To start, answer the following five questions:
1. Why are you pursuing a career in singing?
Perhaps the most important question of all, as well as a great place to start envisioning your brand, is answering the “why” behind your choice of career. At some point, you made a choice to sing as a means to support yourself. In answering the “why” behind why you do what you do, you can then determine what you bring to the table that no one else can. Additionally, framing the question in the present rather than in the past allows for a feeling of freedom and continual growth. You are not committed to this career forever and have the power to leave at any point, so why do you continueto choose to sing?
2. How would your colleagues describe you?
It's very easy for most of us to describe our weaknesses, but it can be harder point out our strengths. This predicament provides a great opportunity for trusted colleagues, coaches, teachers, and directors to share some insight. Ask a few people you’ve worked with extensively, who know your work ethic, performing abilities, rehearsal etiquette, how they would recommend you for a potential gig. Colleagues can attest to how your personality comes off to others, what repertoire makes you stand out from the rest, and what unique assets you bring to the table. You can then translate this information into several branding components such as your bio, your choice of recordings made public, even your overall voice behind your brand content. For example, do you come off as professional yet upbeat and fun to work with? Reiterate that information in places such as your social media content and commentary.
3. What types of characters do you portray in your current repertoire?
While this question isn’t directly related to your personality, it is related to your potential stage persona and often depends heavily on voice type. Are the characters within your repertoire of noble or humble social status? Are they happy, distressed, stoic, or hysterical? What is the age range? These questions will help you define characteristics that align with your personality and can help dictate branding specifics like color palettes, headshot poses, website design, and font themes. For example: do you tend to play charismatic maids and ingenues? Let that personality illustrate your brand by choosing a more playful color scheme and a friendly headshot pose.
4. What is your slogan?
Throughout history, people have used personal slogans or mottos to advertise themselves in a concise and effective way. Use the information you’ve gathered so far to create possible slogans that help define who you are and what you would like to accomplish. Additionally, these personal mottos are excellent reminders during frustrating and disappointing times. Your slogan should be short and memorable. Keep your slogan someplace where you will see it and come back to it regularly, such as on a post-it on your computer, or in your Notes app on your iPhone. Here are three examples to get you started:
“Resilient and wise”
“The most steadfast soprano”
“Colorful and creative collaborator”
5. What appeals to you most about other singer brands?
This last step expands upon some of the more introspective work we’ve done so far. Scan the websites of singers you admire, whether they're colleagues, friends, or professionals in the field. Make a list of elements that draw your attention, both positive and negative. How do these websites make you feel at first glance? What would you add, change, or eliminate? Since it has become more common for singers to build websites, the internet has a seemingly endless array of options to peruse for ideas. Try not to focus too much on design specifics, such as font, color scheme, and logo, but rather target an overall mood and projection of personality.
Self-analysis is never easy, but putting in the time to build your brand will connect you more deeply to your art and your goals. Additionally, the time spent on putting together a professional brand will undoubtedly be recognized and appreciated by an audition panel or anyone else looking to hire you. Keep in mind that your resume, headshot, website, etc. are all part of your audition, not just your singing. Today, it’s especially crucial to create a consistent, professional, and representative profile of ourselves to present to the public. Enjoy the process, and feel free to share any additional insights about branding you might have!