Whenever you hear “Starboy” who comes to your mind? Wizkid of course! Successful music artists like Wizkid, Burnaboy, and Davido have one important thing in common- an effective Brand Positioning strategy. When you position your brand in music, you become unique to something. This is why you’ll hear “African Giant” and the first thing that comes to your mind is “Burnaboy”. 

An effective brand positioning strategy is important for independent musicians looking to succeed in the music industry. To achieve this, let’s discuss the basics. What is brand positioning? And why is brand positioning important for independent musicians?

What Is Brand Positioning?

According to Hubspot, “brand positioning is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. More than a tagline or a fancy logo, brand positioning is a strategy used to set your business apart from the rest”. Now let’s translate this into music and music marketing to help you position your brand in music. 

Brand positioning is when you position yourself as a musician in the mind of your audience. Apart from Wizkid or Burnaboy’s tagline, what makes them stand out and Positions themselves in the hearts of their listeners is their good music. Hence as an independent musician, you need to have something remarkable you’re giving your audience for them to keep you in their hearts and help you position your brand in music.

Effective brand positioning happens when a musician is perceived as outstanding, authentic, and credible to the audience. Possessing these three things will be unique to you, and your music, which will go on to engrave your brand in your audience’s minds and help you position your brand in music. This is important because being “different” from the competition in the music industry isn’t enough to win in this market. 

Why Is Brand Positioning Important?

As an independent musician, you have a reputation whether you decide to cultivate it or not, so you might as well take advantage of that and create a brand positioning plan that can help you take control of your reputation and brand image to help you position your brand in music. 

More than a decade ago, Wizkid broke out with a new sound that sounded foreign yet never lost the afrobeat feel. He sounded very new and unique and people accepted his sound. Today, Wizkid is now a yardstick and inspiration for all new afrobeat artists. He’s positioned himself as the gold standard of afrobeat.

Brand positioning allows you to differentiate yourself from competitors and position your brand in music genres you specialize in. This differentiation helps you create and increase your brand awareness, and communicate value. 

But not all brand positioning are the same or have the same objective. Depending on the nature of what you’re offering to the music industry, your positioning and messaging will vary. 

There are some musicians, producers, and sound engineers who have positioned themselves at the forefront of certain genres of music, making it so that these genres are what they work while there are others who position themselves as versatile creatives who can work in any genre. Depending on your “hedgehog”, you can either choose a genre that you’ll be able to dominate easily or be a versatile independent musician who can soar in any genre of music. 

Finding Your Hedgehog

To position your brand in music, you need to find your “hedgehog”. You need to determine what you’re most passionate about, what you can do best in the world, and what you think people will pay for. The “hedgehog” is an intersection of these three things.

This approach can be applied in personal development, business, music, art, etc. It’s aimed at helping you determine the sweet spot that makes you stand out from the crowd and positions your brand as unique. Now let’s apply this to help you position your brand in music. 

To begin, you need to figure out what parts of being a musician you’re most passionate about. Whether it’s writing, producing, performing on stage, etc. Determine what you’re most passionate about in music.

Then, allow yourself to be humble enough to ask yourself what you think you could be the best in the world at. I know you’re aiming to be the best musician, but what this step entails is picking a niche you know you’ll be exceptional at.  Are you a great dancehall musician who hails from Africa? you can blend both scenes of dancehall and afrobeat together to create your own niche that you can be the best in the world at. Here’s a step-by-step guide to music niche marketing to help you determine your niche. 

Trying this in an inverse scenario may be to define what you will definitely not be the best in the world at because someone’s already doing it. 

Lastly, determine what part of your music will most likely help you drive your growth. As an independent musician, this is most likely your type of music. You should be very specific with this. 

As you review all your responses to the above, determine where the three of them overlap. For example, if you find that you’re passionate about connecting to people with songwriting, you think you can be the best in the world at afro-RnB, and your best money maker is a small group of female dedicated fans who already admire your songs, then you may want to build a brand around creating Afro-RnB songs for female supporters. 

All of these are highly dependent on strategies than just simply branding but the above steps are an interesting brand-building exercise to help you uncover the parts of your art that are unique to you and can help you position your brand in music.

6 Steps To Help You Define Your Brand And Position Your Brand In Music

If you’re very aware of the African music industry, you’d have seen that the most successful brands in this industry are always authentic representations of the musicians that created them. A very good example yet again is the Starboy brand created by Wizkid. A mention of the brand automatically yells its affiliation with Wizkid.

Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing is an awesome starting point to define your brand and determine how to position your brand in music. This is a very crucial step in defining your brand in order to figure out a path that best suits you.

In addition, having a theory about what makes you unique is one of the most important elements in helping you position your brand in music because it keeps you in check that you’re doing something that has the chance of standing out. This will protect you from being too boring or conventional. 

It may still seem a little vague, so here’s a step-by-step guide to help you position your brand in music for success.

Step 1: What’s Your Current Positioning?

This should be the starting point to determining how to position your brand in music. Where are you currently in your music career? What previous steps have you taken to get to this point? What are your next steps, your vision?

These questions will help you determine your current positioning in your journey as a musician. But we’re majorly concerned about positioning your brand in music right? Standing out from the norm. This is where you need to answer the following questions:

Do you have some positioning prior that you may not have realized? Like a unique sound, or a unique niche that may put you at the forefront of a new music genre? If not, then are you creating something unique that could potentially help you position your brand? 

These questions will provide you with answers to your current positioning and help you determine the next step to take to position your brand in music. 

Step 2: What Makes Your Brand Unique?

Uniqueness is a major asset to position your brand in music. Is there something about your music that stands out? You may not even be aware of this until someone else listens to your music and tells you how your music stands out from the rest. This may be as simple as your sound, or how your producer mixes your voice to create a unique tune that’s very catchy. 

Or your music may be a throwback to another time or sound. It may be a fusion of an old genre that’s died out with time, fused with the new sound, therefore making your music stand out. Most independent musicians are barely aware of this because they feel they’re just supposed to make music and that’s it. It goes deeper than just creating music if you’re looking to position your brand in music. 

You need to define what makes you unique in not more than two sentences. This may be used as your code brand statement. 

Step 3: Identify Your Competitors 

Running a competitor’s analysis is crucial to help you position your brand in music rightly. This helps you determine who your immediate competitors are, what they’re doing right to position their brand, and how they’re doing it. This may prompt you to analyze already successful musicians but hey, there’s no crime in competing with musicians you look up to since y’all are in the same music industry right? But it’s important you perform this analysis with respect to your immediate environment. 

Meaning you need to determine your immediate competitors. Which independent, growing musician sounds like you? What kind of music are they creating? How are they creating, and promoting their music?  Do they compete for the same listeners like you? 

Step 4: Find What Differentiates You And Your Competitors.

The difference between you and your competitors may be the audience, your style of music, or your image. The way you brand yourself on social media. Determining what differentiates you from your competitors is important to help you position your brand in music. 

Determining this will help you add some sauce to your uniqueness and help you stand out. An example of this was when Rema started out a few years ago. He started out with a very unique sound and capitalized on that to position his brand in music. 

Step 5: Find An Idea That You Own.

Doing this crowns your effort to find what makes you stand out as an independent musician in the music industry. Is there something only you do with your music that no one else does? This may be your visual representation on your covers and lyric videos.

Is there something you do to your sound that no one else does? For instance, when mumble rapping (trap) started out with future at the forefront, his idea was using autotune to tune his voice to sound very different from other artists in that genre. That helped him position his brand in music.

Take your time to assess this and determine an idea that you can own. This will help you to position your brand in music.

Step 6: Describe Your Position In The Fewest Words Possible

Finally, to position your brand in music, you need to describe your position using the right keywords. This is quite easy. If you’re an independent musician creating a new genre or a fusion of one genre with another, you can describe your position as the initiator of that genre. 

A very good example of this is Rema and his new genre of sound. He termed the genre “Afro-rave” and calls himself and his loyal fans “Ravers”. Now anywhere you hear the word “Ravers”, Rema pops in your head because he’s positioned himself, his brand, and his music to be at the forefront of the keyword.

Following these steps dearly, should help you know what to do to have an effective brand positioning. You shouldn’t rush through this as you need to take your time to follow the necessary steps to achieve maximum results. 

An effective brand positioning improves everything in your music career. Helps you have better and more effective music marketing strategies, more audience and listeners, and most of all, growth within your positioning. 

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