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Entertainers urged to hop aboard 'Branding Train' - It can be a powerful marketing tool beyond just music

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Agent Sasco

Branding is one of the most important tools for advancing one's career in the creative world and, over the last few years, several local acts have come to understand just how powerful a marketing tool branding is.

Despite many entertainers embracing the idea to the point where several of them have now successfully established world- renowned brands, some key industry insiders believe there are still too many artistes who are yet to see the light.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, publicist at Headline Entertainment Carlette DeLeon, said that it is important for more entertainers to create a brand based on their music, as it would ensure that they have something to fall back on if and when the music alone doesn't sell anymore.

"The reality of the situation is that our current market is very sophisticated and consumers buy into more than just a song that they like consumers buy into a brand to which they can identify," she explained. "So when an entertainer is starting his or her career, he or she should think about how every aspect of his or her life fits into the brand and not just the music."

DeLeon admitted that when entertainers are seeking to get their feet in the industry, establishing a brand may not be at the top of their list of priorities, but she is hoping that all of that will change.

"I think that some of them (artistes) are thinking more about their image, but brand is so much more than image and you have to create a brand that millions of people can identify with," she said, pointing out that an artiste's stage name also goes a far way when establishing a brand. "A number of artistes developed nicknames as children in school and then they just work with that name, which works sometimes, but thinking long term, artistes do need to consider how it is that their name aligns with their brand. There are a number of reasons to have a name that is palatable and familiar sounding, because you want to have something that is quickly latched on to by consumers."

Janice Young, media and advertising consultant and publicist, agreed to some extent.

"I believe the name is important, but it is not the be all and end all," she said. "There are names that just won't co-relate as it relates to some level of branding, because there are some companies that would want an artiste to represent them because of the material but the name doesn't correspond."

Young cited Assassin's name change as an example.

"Even Assassin has done that re branding of himself as Agent Sasco, because maybe a lot of persons internationally may not have wanted to work with somebody who is co-relating to death and destruction like Assassin."

Like DeLeon, Young also expressed that there are still too many entertainers who are yet to board the 'branding train' and that could be one of the reasons behind how quickly they lose their appeal with consumers.

"Consumer taste changes and they move on very quickly or get distracted very easily and with our market, because there are so many artistes always coming out with something new, a lot of artistes need to look at reinventing themselves. That doesn't mean changing your belief system, it means looking at evolving with the music. Expand your brand to create new content and you will remain relevant because you'll be able to connect with whatever is happening."

She also encouraged artistes to invest in business opportunities within the industry, because depending solely on the music could yield a loss in the end.

"No matter how popular you are or how many charts you're topping currently, you can never be sure of the future for your music," she said. "You have to capitalise on your popularity right now. People know you and your brand now, so create that business now, invest in that thing right now, that will ensure that you continue making money."

With that said, DeLeon pointed out that another reason why many entertainers have not been able to channel the power of branding, is because many of them fail to see the industry as a business.

"The challenge that I have with our local artistes is that we consider the music business as music alone, but some artistes have made a foray notably Vybz Kartel, Konshens, Spice and others who have developed goods that have their brand," she explained. "I don't know that in our industry we have truly leveraged that kind of thing. Artistes should not just start their brand on pre made products, but rather, seek to develop a product to suit their brand."

She went on to explain that if artistes had the 'right team' to iron out details, allowing them to further exploit those opportunities, it would go a far way in helping more of them to establish brands recognised around the world.

"Artistes should be able to be just that. When you're creative, you're best at being creative. It's the business community that needs to work with them," she said. "I am very disappointed that Corporate Jamaica and the business community at large aren't helping entertainers. Separate and apart from sponsors, how many business persons are investing in artistes?" She also said that there are too many business graduates in Jamaica who are unwilling to pursue careers in the entertainment industry and pointed out that it is also a major reason why the industry has not seen the kind of success it should.

"You have hundreds of students each year getting MBA's and all these things and none of them are looking to the entertainment industry as a viable business opportunity and I think that is part of the reason why our entertainment industry hasn't thrived in the way that it needs to and why the artistes don't have the persons with the requisite business knowledge, training and experience, to help them leverage their brands into bigger things."