What Happened To Artist and Musician Brands?

A quick disclaimer that this is basically a just a rant by the slowly aging designer in me. I can already hear myself saying, “back in my day…”. With that being said, when I think of artist or musician brands, logos, etc., I automatically think back to Aerosmith, Van Halen, Run DMC, Misfits, Wu-Tang, The Rolling Stones, etc. (perhaps dating myself but whatever). Those bands had consistent logos and overall brands that were present throughout the years on all of their merch and albums. I remember sketching those logos on every notebook I had in high school. These days, consistent artist logos and brands are much harder to come by. I look at the Billboard 100 and have a hard time associating those artists with a visual brand.

One thing that stands out from my experiences working with more prominent artists was the lack of answers given when I would ask: “Can I get a copy of your logo?” Several times there was nothing to give at all and often I’d get a reply along the lines of “can we use this [insert completely random concept here]?” This befuddled me to no end. I’d research in vain to find an artist’s logo only to realize that they’ve used a different font on every album and for every t-shirt. A font is not a logo. It’s just a font. I wondered why artists that were packing out huge venues with tens of thousands of people, didn’t have a consistent visual brand and as I look at revamped versions of these artist’s websites and albums years later, I still wonder that today.

So why is the musician logo and brand becoming more and more inconsistent? I have no hard data here so I can only hypothesize that as our attention spans get shorter and as artists loose control of their music (and brand) to big record labels who call all the shots, the brands get lost in the shuffle. Those record companies don’t care as much about consistency and nurturing a brand and a long-term fan base (maybe they never have) as they do about staying on top of the latest trends that the people with the money are into. I might also suggest that when an artist is past the prime of their career, they won’t have the legions of loyal fans since every album was dictated by what was “hot” at the time. Again, just my assumptions but something to think about.

I understand that brands, especially when relating to artists, evolve over time though I can’t help but wonder; what will the children of today sketch on their notebooks?

(need an artist logo design or musician website design? Give Chris a shout at 615.521.1890 or at cbradshaw@nashvilleinteractive.com)