Picture the McDonald's logo...those famous Golden Arches.
Even without the name of the company in the logo, or any words at all, you know what brand it is. That's because McDonald's has done an excellent job of creating its company brand, using various marketing strategies to establish a unique and recognizable presence in the world.
Branding is not just for big business. It has increasingly become an important strategy used by many school organizations, and that includes your band! Building a brand allows you to highlight the unique character of your group, emphasizes the values of your students, and will make your band stand out to your community.
So you're telling me I should brand my band?
You heard us! Your brand is your story. This includes your voice, your style, and what defines you as a group. Once you pin down that story, you can communicate it to friends, family, alumni, community, and the rest of your school to raise awareness about your success and goals.
Where do I start? We're glad you asked! We've created a handy guide to help you define your organization's unique brand.
Making incredible music is only part of the story. Why does your band/orchestra/group exist? What do you hope to achieve? Think of your core message like a company's mission statement: it is the basis for making any team decisions, and it's what your organization and band members work towards throughout the year.
To determine your core message, start by writing down your band's values and characteristics, as well as how you would like to be perceived by others in your school community. What does your group stand for? Is it providing leadership opportunities for students? Is it helping them develop important life skills? What else? Once you've gotten a list down, look for themes, and discuss with your band leaders to come out with a strong mission statement for the band.
Once you've determined your band message, you're in great shape to create your team logo. Your logo is the foundation of your brand. It should cleanly and clearly express your message. All materials (t-shirts, flyers, sponsorship materials, etc.) should include your logo. Really itching to get people to notice you? Get creative with swag and create a mascot, too!
To create a logo, brainstorm with your students and come up with some ideas on what images could tie into your band. Narrow down the ideas and start to create some sketches. Don't have any design experience? No problem! Crowdsource your students for designs or leverage resources at your school or local community college design department. Once you've settled on a rough draft, be sure to get feedback from an "outsider” to test if they can identify your logo with your team. Also, keep in mind that the more colors you have in your logo, the more expensive it will be to print. We recommend sticking to a maximum of 3 colors and it makes sense to include your school colors!
Once you've decided on your message and created your logo, start spreading the word about your band! Make sure your group is linked to different social media accounts, if it is not already. Not only should you be present on social channels, it is vital to actually engage with your audiences on those sites. Provide status updates, photos, and messages catered to students, parents, and the greater community. It's also important to have a website set up about your group – it can be a subsection of your school website. Post information about your organization, future events, and up-to-date multimedia (photos and videos). This will be important to convey your brand to both the community as well as potential sponsors. If your band is not currently included as a part of your school's website, you could enlist a parent or talented student to help out! Wordpress.com is a great tool to use for free website creation.
If you're just starting out in the social media world, create a Facebook page for your band and add pictures! Facebook is a great (and super easy) way to reach parents, extended family members, and the greater school community to keep them informed of your activity. A YouTube channel is another fantastic way to share your band and music. Upload videos from your concerts, games, performances, or even rehearsals and share them with your fans. If you're feeling bold, you could also set up Twitter, Instagram, and/or Vine accounts. If you're feeling overwhelmed with all of these options, just ask your students to chime in – it's a guarantee that they'll know how to use all these sites!
Good branding is all about consistency and content. Be clear, be true, and be repetitive. It might take some time for your community to recognize your logo and your brand, but if you're consistent and patient, it will happen. Use your "voice and style” in all your communications and imagery. People will learn what your content looks and sounds like.
Once you decide upon your message, your logo, and your voice, it's important to stick with it. Don't change with each upcoming school year, though it might be tempting. Make sure to put your brand anywhere you can: add your logo to t-shirts, post your mission in your practice room and common areas such as cafeterias, library bulletin boards, locker rooms, buy all equipment in your team colors, maintain those social media accounts, etc. Enlist your students and their parents to help with content, photos, ideas, and more!
Now you have the tools to take the leap from an ordinary band to one that has an extraordinary brand. This article is the first in a series to help you engage your community and raise money for your band. In our next post, we'll go through an essential skill that every band needs to have to succeed: how to communicate with your supporters. Stay tuned!