In our last blog, we discussed the five reasons why your choir's brand is important. In this article, we'll dig into the process of developing your brand from establishing your choir's personality to making design choices and even clarifying your mission statement. So, what are you waiting for? Let's start developing your brand!
The 5 Essential Steps for Developing Your Choir's Brand
Step 1 - Identify Decision Makers
You will need a small team of people to help build out your brand. Loop in your key decision makers from your existing marketing team, perhaps the person who manages your website or social channels. Keep this team small, ideally five members or less. While you want to respect outside opinions, it can be overwhelming to have too many divas on stage (if you get my drift); you will quickly find that it is impossible to please everyone!
Step 2 - Lead Brainstorming Exercises
As a choir, there are two brand components you need to consider: your musical branding and your personality branding. Using your new team, schedule a meeting and walk through the following brainstorming exercises.
- Building your choir's personality: Take five minutes to individually brainstorm all of the adjectives that describe your choir’s personality. Think about your individual members, your sections, your director, and your board. What adjectives sum them up perfectly?
- Describe your choir’s musicality traits: Individually brainstorm adjectives that describe the musical components of your choir. If you were to describe the quality of your chorus, the skill level, repertoire choices, timbre, and sound quality - what words would you use?
- Select your top choices: After you’ve got a good list going for each of the first two exercises, share your ideas as a group and choose the top 3-5 in each category. Circle these for future reference.
- Define your audience categories: Now it’s time to think about the audience for your marketing. Are you marketing to ticket buyers, patrons, potential auditionees, all of the above? List those audience categories on a sheet of paper with space in between for notes.
- Build audience personas: Once you’ve chosen your audience categories, you will want to jot down a few qualities about them that make each of them unique. For each category, write down the answers to these questions:
- What are the demographics of this audience? Age, gender, etc.
- What excites this audience? What does this audience like?
- What upsets your audience? What do they not like?
- What does your audience like to do? Talk about their hobbies, family, work life, etc.
- What adjectives best describe each?
- How do you want them to feel when they hear your chorus or when they think about your organization?
Step 3 - Develop Your Design
Once you know your audience and yourselves a little bit better, now is the time to make some design choices. (Don't panic! We've got plenty of resources below to help.) As I’ve mentioned in our previous blog, you’ll want to make sure that your design components match the qualities of your target audience as well as your choir’s personality. The colors and fonts you choose will be used for developing your logo as well as distributed throughout your website, print materials, and online channels.
To get started, go back to exercise 3 above to your circled adjectives. Then look at the questions that you answered for each of your target audiences in exercise 5. Using these words, thoughts, and feelings, do some research into colors and fonts that will showcase your choir’s musical qualities and overall personality while also delighting your targeted audience.
Examples: If serenity, calmness, and trust are important to your choir, you might consider a shade of blue. Is your choir sophisticated and glamorous? Try black. Is your choir known for its strength and boldness? Consider red. Are you trying to attract a younger audience? Try sleek, modern, simple fonts like “Modeka” or “Minimalust.” Are your choir members unique characters? Try a unique, descriptive font. You get the idea.
If you are lucky and have a designer in your chorus, send them your exercises as a point of reference and ask them to come up with a color palette and some typography options to consider. If you don’t have a designer on-hand, you will need to do some of the research yourself. Here are a few resources to consider:
Color Psychology - for research into the emotional impact of different colors.
Typography Psychology - for research into how fonts are used to elicit a psychological response.
Typography Infographic - a simple approach to choosing fonts, with example font selections.
Pixlr - a free online photo editor. Using the color selector, you can find thousands of variations of colors to choose from. Scroll around the color wheel until you find a shade you like. Write down the RGB (255, 255, 255), CMYK (0, 0, 0, 0), and the HEX (#ffffff) for future reference.
Image Color Picker - a tool for identifying the specific color from an online image. Have you ever seen a color online that you like? Upload your image to this tool and when you click on the color, the image picker will show you the HEX and RGB codes for it. Pretty cool, right?
Once you have your first color chosen, you can search the web for “complementary colors” to your new HEX or RGB code that you wrote down. The internet is pretty good at making suggestions for additional colors! When in doubt, use Pinterest. In Pinterest, simply search for “color palettes,” or if you already know a color, type in “[blue or #......] color palettes.” There are plenty of pre-made palettes available so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.
After all of your decisions have been made, document everything in one place for your team to find! Write down the RGB, HEX, and CMYK codes for your colors, which fonts you will use, and when you intend to use them. Once your “style guide” is created, send around to your marketing members to maintain consistency across all marketing channels and materials. You should keep your original files in a shared file storage platform like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Chorus Connection! If you are rebranding, you will also need to examine any existing materials that will need to be updated. Make a to-do list of these items and tackle them one-by-one with your team.
Step 4 - Create Your Logo
If you don't have a logo, it's time to get one! My recommendation is to find a creative singer who is willing to design this for you or outsource to a design firm. Fiverr also has a variety of designers available to create logos at an affordable price. Discuss your creative vision with your designer highlighting on the exercises you've completed in step 2. Review and revise the logo as necessary until you find the design that represents your choir's vision and brand. If you do not have a volunteer designer or the funds to outsource, you can consider using free tools online such as Logomakr or Canva's logo templates which helps you create a logo from their existing graphics and your new colors. It is a far-from-perfect solution, but it can be a valuable resource in a pinch!
Step 5 - Writing Your Mission
Finally, it's time to start piecing together a formalized mission statement. You've already established your choir's personality, your musicality traits, and even how you want your audience to feel - all essential components in your mission statement. To expand upon your mission, here are a few additional questions you should ask your brainstorming team:
- Why do you do what you do? Tap into the emotional components of how your choral music affects your audience and your community.
- How do you deliver this message and your music to your audience? Do you participate in community outreach projects, does your repertoire have a specific message for its listeners, how does your group work together to deliver this message?
- What are the goals for the chorus? What does the future look like for the chorus and what are you hoping to achieve through your music?
Compare notes between this exercise and your brainstorming exercises in step 2 and begin to formulate a formal mission statement from your answers. Don't forget to incorporate your choir's circled adjectives from your brainstorming exercises.
With these five essentials in place, you are well on your way to developing a unique brand for your chorus!
Showcase Your Choir's Brand
It isn’t enough to develop your brand; you need to showcase your brand!
Let your members know! Circulate your brand, design, and mission to your singers, board members, and chorus staff. Let it be the driving force behind your values and purpose.
Exhibit your brand. Keep it consistent throughout your website, email marketing campaigns, print pieces, and social channels.
Maintain brand. It’s a good idea to meet with your team annually to review your brand and make sure that your adjectives, values, and design still match the representation of your chorus. Colors and fonts do go out of style, and your chorus might evolve, so you won’t want to get too far behind in your brand updates.
Rome wasn't built in a day and your choir's brand certainly won't be either. Be patient with yourselves and continue to review, revise, and tweak until you have the brand that perfectly personifies your choir. Good luck!
Tori Cook is the former Director of Sales & Marketing at Chorus Connection. She sings with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and is a board member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium. In a past life, she was the Music Director of the Harborlight Show Chorus and President of Chorus pro Musica in Boston. When not making music, she daydreams about adopting a golden retriever puppy and scuba diving to exotic locations around the world.