Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, was featured in the spring issue of Berklee Today, the Berklee College of Music’s alumni magazine!
Components of DIY Marketing
Marketing is the complete process of creating products and services to satisfy your target audience, build awareness, and make sales. It includes researching, goal setting, strategizing, and executing. In this article, we discuss three aspects of DIY marketing that are often overlooked by musicians who believe that marketing simply involves social media and YouTube videos. Here we focus on building a brand identity with slogans, testing products among fans, and measuring marketing efforts.
1. Building Your Brand Identity with Slogans
What do Apple, Ozzy Osbourne, and hundreds of other successful companies and brands all have in common? They all employ brand slogans to build their identity. Slogans provide further information about a brand, communicate an overall philosophy, and increase memorability. They can even become part of your brand’s logo or be used to market a specific product or service, such as your own album or concert tour. Cypress Hill branded its Smoke Out Festival with the slogan, “An all day mind altering event.” And Bring Me the Horizon (a British metal-core outfit) branded its album Suicide Season with the slogan, “A perfect soundtrack to a life spent on the edge.” No confusion there.
What follows are several tips for creating a slogan that can make a lasting impression with your intended audience. Remember, slogans don’t have to be grammatically correct; but they must be pithy and direct.
Reflect the identity that you want to project. To better communicate what you do and who you are, suggest the personality and culture you want to project within your slogan. To emphasize his punk roots and to pay homage to icon Iggy Pop, for example, Henry Rollins used “Search and Destroy” as a slogan to accompany his logo. In fact, Rollins even tattooed the logo on his back and uses it on T-shirts and other merchandise. The Los Angeles indie metal band Clepto, which has Saudi Arabian roots, uses the slogan “Thrash Punk Gypsies,” which sums up the band’s sound and spirit.
Speak to your audience. When creating your slogan, consider whom you are trying to appeal to. Understanding your likely target audience is crucial. Get a sense of your audience members’ age, gender, education level, and income. Also, research their activities, interests, and opinions, and understand behavioral issues and the things that motivate them. Also consider the regions where your audience is located. The band House of Pain uses the slogan “Fine Malt Lyrics” in its logo to pay homage to its home city of Boston and to the Irish community there. Harley Davidson uses “American by Birth. Rebel by Choice” to pay tribute to the proud and loyal group of riders in the United States and the free country in which the brand was founded.
Stand out from the competition. Study your competitors, who may share a similar audience, so you can highlight what makes you unique. The musical group Pink Martini, which has an expansive musical style, uses the slogan “Music of the world, without being world music” to stand out. The metal band Manowar is listed in The Guinness World Book of Records as the loudest band in the world and has had that fact as its slogan for many years.
Stress the benefits. Create a slogan that draws attention to benefits that are important to your target audience and that you can honestly provide. Apple, undoubtedly one of the biggest companies in music, used the slogan “1,000 songs in your pocket” to promote its first-generation iPod and emphasize its large storage capacity. Recently, Apple used “Any kind of file, on all your devices” to promote the cloud. And guitarist Slash recently used the slogan “With everyone, from Ozzy to Fergie” to promote his new solo album that featured numerous guests. In all cases, note how these slogans all sell the benefits. They answer the customer question “What’s in it for me?”
Make it memorable. Making your slogan rhyme can be an advantage. Big-band legend Benny Goodman used the slogan “The King of Swing” throughout his career, and it was often used to introduce him on radio and television shows. His slogan was short and catchy.
Keep it short. Limit your slogan to just one or a few simple words. Also consider what might look cool and be adaptable on your products and marketing tools, such as your business cards, websites, e-mail signatures, etc. For instance, Bruce Springsteen used “The Boss” interchangeably with his own name.
Be believable; don’t exaggerate. Your slogan should not be perceived as out of proportion. Using language like “The greatest band on earth” when you’re starting out is just silly. Yes, jazz legend Jaco Pastorius called himself “The World’s Greatest Bass Player,” and the Rolling Stones adopted the slogan “The World’s Greatest Rock Band,” but both artists could back it up.
Offer an explanation. Use a descriptive tagline that tells people exactly what you are. For instance, the classic rock band ZZ Top uses the tagline “That lil’ ol’ band from Texas” throughout its website and on other PR materials. Billy Joel used “The Piano Man” in all his publicity and released a record of the same name.
Don’t confuse your audience. The whole point of a slogan or tagline is to educate your market about what you do, so don’t make the message confusing for your audience. The members of the Beatles, four in total, whose music was no doubt fabulous, adopted the clear and direct slogan “The Fab Four” for use in their publicity posters and other media. In contrast, the band Green Jello (renamed Green Jelly for legal reasons) used the slogan “Green Jello Sucks.” The name is confusing: Did the group’s music really suck? Was it taking a stab at the makers of the Jello? Or was it something band members did on stage? Yikes! In any case, it’s not a flattering, legally smart, or clear slogan. Don’t be confusing.
Look to your fans. Ask your most-likely fans how they might sum you up in a word or phrase, how they think you’re different, and what they feel is most important to them. You could even hold a contest and offer a prize. Not only can you form a closer bond with fans by getting them involved but also you may find a cool tagline to brand your band.
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Also, Bobby will be speaking at Berklee College on June 20th! He will be teaching “Ten Steps of the Marketing Process.” In Borg’s “Ten Steps of the Marketing Process,” students will learn about tried-and-tested concepts used by the world’s most innovative companies, including: describing a vision, identifying a market need, analyzing target fans, learning from competitors, demoing products and services, setting marketing plan goals, and finding the perfect mix of new marketing strategies ranging from branding, product, price, place, promotion, and marketing information systems. Following Borg’s keynote, he will be signing his book Music Marketing For The DIY Musician at the Berklee Bookstore.