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Have you ever wondered how some musicians maintain a strong brand over decades?

Many times people tell us we need to do the same thing over and over again.

Turns out, the reason why so some musicians maintain a strong brand over the decades isn’t because they do one thing. But because they do many things.

And the way that they do this is through what’s called a “Main-Brand / Sub-Brand” campaign.

And in this article, I’m going to explain the Main-Brand / Sub-Brand framework so you can put it to work for your music.

Main-Brand / Sub-Brand Campaign: Introduction

Typically, when we think of branding music, we think that we have to do one thing. But there’s something unique about the way branding works with music.

So you’ll notice that a lot of artists if you look at their albums, they’re all branded differently.

They’ll create merchandise based on the album. And a few months to a year later, they’ll release another album. With new merchandise. And new branding.

That allows the artist to experiment with different projects, genres, or styles of music, instead of being tied down by their branding.

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Let’s talk about the main brand first. And then we’ll talk about what a sub-brand is, and then I’ll tie these pieces together.

Watch the video below for a video version of this article:

What’s A “Main Brand” In The Music Industry?

A main brand for a musician is their artist name (stage name) or band name, and it’s represented by their logo.

But there’s a little bit more to it. So let’s talk about the criteria.

The criteria for a main brand is that you want to have something solid that you can come back to as you experiment with your sub-brands.

So the essential part of their main brand is that the artist needs to believe in it.

Branding “Myths” That Keep Musicians Tied In Knots

A lot of times we think that our brand is based on a genre or style of music. And that’s not true, it can be and that’s fine. But it doesn’t have to be.

Because fans are loyal to the main brand.

But more on that in a bit.

For now, you just need to know that a main brand in the music industry is an idea or a belief or an overarching purpose that’s represented by the artist name (stage name) or band name.

What Is A Sub-Brand In The Music Industry?

A sub-brand is a campaign released under the banner of the artist’s main brand. Things like an…

  • EP
  • single
  • full-length album
  • music video
  • live tour…

All of these things are what a sub-brand in music could be.

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What does this mean to the average musician?

To illustrate, I’m a Metallica fan, and when St. Anger came out in the early 2000s many fans didn’t love it.

St. Anger was a sub-brand released under their main brand “Metallica”.

They experimented with that album. And then after that album was done, they released another album that was better received.

Fans are loyal to the main brand.

That’s why you’ve probably heard people say things like, “I’m a big fan of [insert band name], but I don’t like [insert album name].”

Or, in my case, “I love Metallica, but I don’t like St. Anger.”

One of the benefits of the main brand / sub-brand relationship.

Because of the safety created by the sub-brand. You can experiment with different projects, genres, or styles of music without worrying about compromising your main brand.

Okay, so those are the benefits of the main brand / sub-brand framework. Let’s talk about the parts of a sub-brand.

musician-branding-sub-brand-campaign-chart

The Parts You Need In A Sub-Brand

The parts of a sub-brand include things like…

  • album artwork
  • social media platforms
  • website
  • merchandise

All of those are branded to look like the current sub-brand, project, campaign, or release you’re currently focused on.

A Sub-Brand Campaign In The Music Industry: Example

I helped a billboard charting artists create a sub-brand for one of their biggest songs.

The sub-brand was an entire campaign for the launch for a new single. It included the following…

Look at the album art example above and you’ll see the main brand (logo) up at the top left. And then the sub-brand is the album cover graphic and title—No Plan B—front and center on the cover.

In a few months, they’re going to release another single and create another sub-brand for it.

Wrap It Up

Typically, when we think of branding music, we think that we have to do one thing.

There’s something unique about the way branding works with music. Every artist who stays relevant for any period of time has sub-brands.

That allows the artist to experiment with different projects, genres, or styles of music, instead of being tied down by their branding.

So let me know how are you going to use the main brand sub-brand framework. Put it to work. And if you liked this article, share it.

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