You Are a Living Brand (Part 2)

Whether it’s your packaging, website, performances, e-mails, fax cover sheets, t-shirts or whatever emanates from you - the brand - it needs to scream, not whisper, about who and what you are.

Posted in Songwriter 101 on April 5, 2006 by

When last we tuned in, I was ranting about what it meant to be a “living brand” and the necessity of building and maintaining an emotional connection with your audience.

Note to songwriters: This is not just an audience in the literal sense, but what folks in the marketing biz refer to as a “target audience” (please hold the Cheney jokes). I’m referring to the individual - or group or individuals - who you want to connect and stay connected with.

I also set forth the notion that being a living brand was much more than just generating a transaction. It’s about creating an “experience” for your target audience at every single point of interaction. So, whether it’s your packaging, website, performances, e-mails, fax cover sheets, t-shirts or whatever emanates from you - the brand - it needs to scream, not whisper, about who and what you are. Anything less represents a missed opportunity to connect with the people you want to reach amidst fierce competition.

Need a few examples?
? Hip-hop is not confined to a song. It reaches way beyond into clothing, language, jewelry, cars, dance styles and even certain bodily gestures. I also love hip-hop (as I do punk) as an example for Songwriter101ers, because these artists did not start out with marketing budgets and a sophisticated promotion strategy. It throws the “I’m just a beginner” lament where it belongs: out the window.

? One of the greatest examples is Jimmy Buffett. He was able to take his “Margaritaville” brand sentiment and parlay it into a mind-blowing empire of cafes, footwear, foods, a radio station, books and more (check out to see the real deal).

? Ever attend a Marilyn Manson concert? Still really think it’s all about the songs?

The Million-Dollar Question
What do 50 Cent, Jimmy Buffett and Marilyn Manson have in common?

Note to songwriters: Answer this quickly and correctly and you’re a giant step ahead of the competition.

The answer is emotion. They’ve all connected - very powerfully - with their audiences emotionally.

Fact: Emotions are twice as important as “facts” in the process by which people make buying decisions

So (performing songwriter or not), you have to look inside yourself and your songs to extract the essence that will emotionally connect you with your target audience - one that represents you and your work - your living brand.


Because when all is said and done, the end goal of building a living brand is to leapfrog the cubicle farms and have your voice (literally or figuratively) heard - and if you’re really good at it - followed.

Welcome To The Camp
So, in the spirit of entrepreneurialism (more on the importance of this invaluable mindset in future articles), I welcome you to LBBC (Living Brand Boot Camp), an (admittedly overly condensed) introductory crash course in creating your own living brand.

Now get busy.

Exercise 1
Create your brand for all five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell).

Have fun with this one. It’s a sometimes challenging/sometimes silly but nevertheless important exercise.

As songwriters, I must presume that you’ve got the “sound” portion of this figured out (if not, hit the road - you’ve been booted out of boot camp). But what does your brand look like? Taste like? Smell like? Feel like?

I’d guess that the 50 Cent brand might taste something like Hennessy. Jimmy Buffett’s brand might smell like suntan lotion or salt air. Mr. Manson’s brand would feel like leather and steel. Hilary Duff’s brand would taste sweet (strawberry milk shake?). Inhale that Bob Marley brand and you just might . . .

Ok, you’ve got the idea. One last tip: Be true to who you are. Because after you create it, you have to live it.

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