Chapter 7:How to decide on an image/style for your band or as an artist

Deciding on what your image or style is going to be as an artist or as part of a band is not a decision that can be easily made and it should be well thought out in order to get a satisfactory end result. Once you have decided on the image you want to portray to the public, you are stuck with it forever.

A tried and tested method is to be the best version of yourself, as creating a persona that is not what you are a really like is a very hard thing to keep up without the mask slipping. If you stick to being a heightened version of what you really are, you don’t run the risk of moving away from your brand.

At some point, we have all read tales from bands and artists about how they were backed into a corner in order to be what their labels wanted them to be; they were told what to wear, how to act and which way to sing and dance.

This in turn can impact on overall performance, as artists feel pressured to be something that they’re not.

These days, the public tends to favour a more organic and authentic approach to branding, as opposed to a commercially churned out product that has nothing about them apart from the instructions that they received from their record label. The public aren’t stupid, and treating them like they are by creating a faux image that isn’t based on any of your credentials can be insulting.

Your image also has to translate into other parts of your brand, such as artwork for albums and the personality that you give off to the public; it is pointless dressing in the colours of the rainbow and having bright artwork if you want to give off a surly attitude – just think it through.

Steps to develop your image and style

How do you look?

Music isn’t everything in this industry and it is important that you look the part when it comes to be an artist or part of a band.

The Beatles were one of the most iconic groups in the world, with song writing skills that were quite literally pioneering at the time. Whilst their music was phenomenal, they also understood that getting your image right was also a massive piece of the puzzle that had to fit perfectly.

As a group, they developed a style that made them instantly identifiable; just think of the Sergeant Pepper outfits or those famous haircuts. The minute somebody can dress up as you and have people know who they are supposed to be, that’s when you know you’ve got your image spot on.

If you are a solo artist, think about what image you want to give off and make mood boards of different styles that suit you. It is no secret that making yourself aesthetically pleasing in the music industry is a part of job, so don’t wear clothes that are going to make you look like everybody else – execute your own fashion style with flair and charisma and don’t be scared to be daring every now and again in order to create signature and iconic looks that you could become synonymous with. Madonna has probably worn thousands of outfits over the duration of her career, but there is only one cone shaped bralet that we all remember…

Many genres of music have a specific dress code and it is very common to go with the dress code of the genre you are a part of. For example, the rock genre will heavily consist of leather and boots, pop will be very cutesy and fashionable, and country will be well, country! Whilst dressing to suit your genre can sometimes become cliché and stereotypical, it is also a way of making yourself identifiable as an artist in that particular music genre.

Bands can become tricky territory as trying to come to a mutual decision in order to create an image that is uniform and identifiable as that of the group is hard when there is more than one person. Naturally, everybody has different fashion tastes and in order to make a band look sleek, all these tastes have to be cultivated into one big melting pot; the idea is to all create a look that is immediately identifiable with the message that the band is trying to portray.

If your band consists of various strong personalities, try to embody them in one specific and unique style. Allowing band members to use their own individual style, without fitting in with everybody else, is a tactic that doesn’t tend to work as the band then becomes a mismatch of solo artists; the only band that properly pulled off the individuality trick was The Spice Girls, who thrived on the individual personas that they had created for themselves, which is not something that could be repeated without looking like a cheap imitation.

DIY Tip: Money doesn’t necessarily buy style, so don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes when you are starting out and have limited funds; look at your stage clothes as costumes and be thrifty when you source them. Sometimes charity shops throw up fantastic vintage bargains that will look unlike other mainstream clothes on the market, allowing you to look unique.


When it comes to personality, this is where it gets real; you should portray your own personality rather than a poor version of somebody else when it comes to your image. It really is that simple.

By being yourself, you are allowing for a continuity that people can follow and you won’t leave your fans confused – you are welcoming them to get a real sense of who you are and this will help to promote you in the long run. Think about it, if you go into the branding process with the idea that you want to come across as somebody else, there is only so long that you can keep up the façade without it just becoming difficult. Why make life hard for yourself?

Bands should embrace the individuality of each member and whilst from an image perspective it is important to all look uniform, expressing yourself via your own personality is something that is a complete must. Most bands will find that each member falls into their own category quite easily, which is something that they seem to like as they can pick out who is the serious member, who is the funny member etc. etc.

DIY Tip: This one is easy; be yourself and don’t be a copy cat.

Images, fonts and overall physical branding

When it comes to choosing images, bands and artists should go for an image that reflects the sound that they play and the message they want to deliver. This really isn’t rocket science and will probably come quite naturally to most, for example, you wouldn’t ever see Justin Bieber in a (serious) photo shoot dressed as a gangster rapper. Why? Because he’s a pop singer and knows that his photographs should show this.

Decide what colours and images best suit your genre and move forward with them; it is extremely important that your branding is identifiable with the music genre that you work in.

Album artwork usually dictates the fonts and colour schemes that are used on various paraphernalia that relates to the band or artist. Artwork and imagery can really show a band or artist off without trying too hard, so go for artwork that reflects your public image and persona and apply it to every platform that you have in order to convey your brand in the same light in every outlet.

DIY Tip: A graphic designer can be a costly expense, but having the right art work and logos is a really big part of creating your brand as it will give you a clear identity. Approach art students to see if they will help you out at a fraction of the cost in return for credit on their course or cross promotion.

Remember that once you have created a logo for your band, the chances are that it is the logo that you will have for as long as you are around as a band, so be clear and upfront with your requirements