Features  |  Baybeats Festival 2017: Branding And Identity For Local Bands In Singapore

Does a band really need a brand?

By Mahirah Mahmud

When it comes to music, a lot of people often don’t think much about them. It’s always about the creators and the relationship they have with their music. More often than not, bands use their music as a platform of expression.

However, more bands today have been upgrading themselves, not only in terms of music but also in how they look. We find bands dressing up to fit their genre, bands who pay for designers to create neat art and to revamp their bandcamp and albums to fit their style.

How important is branding to bands really? Shouldn’t it just be all about the music?

Daniel Borces from Subsonic Eye says that branding is indeed important to bands. “If you play in a heavy band, it makes a lot of sense to dress heavy, it's the first thing people will see before they hear your music, they will see how you look. To be safe I think you should dress like how you sound and try to find a balance.”

Subsonic Eye rose to fame very quickly with their unique genre, lyrics and style.

Wahidah, their vocalist, adds: “Sometimes branding comes naturally, bands might form a branding by themselves, in terms of looks. But in terms of the branding of the band online, I feel like they definitely have to put in work for that.”

When discussing branding, we can never leave out The Pinholes. Donning retro hairstyles and all things 60’s, the band have been one of Singapore’s most memorable bands in terms of style.

Syafiq, manager of the Pinholes told us in an e-mail interview: “Identity is always important wherever you go, it’s a self-belief because you want to sound, hear and look like yourself.”

The reason behind The Pinholes’quirky branding is that they want to remember the unsung heroes that paint Singapore’s vibrant arts, music and film industry. And because there were so many things happening back then, there was no opportunity to document and show the youth of today what it was like before. Therefore, their branding is a form of a connection, bringing the youths of today a slight glimpse of how it was like back in the days.

Lennat Mak, drummer of indie pop band, Obedient Wives Club and also manager of TOMGIRL’s record label, feels that branding is a form of empowerment to bands.

The drummer says, “The power lies in your hands to tell the greatest story ever with your music, branding, marketing and execution. You can shape your story and choose your adventure, the way you want it. Nothing can be more empowering than that notion.”

“Humans typically perceive with three senses - by hearing, by sight and kinaesthetically,” she adds. “You might not have the luxury to let new audiences listen to your music first before they decide if they like you or not. But they would often see a photo, or read about the band first before checking out the music. So why not try invoking what the band would sound like with a powerful imagery? In this way, when all three senses come together, your band would have created such a strong story for yourself with your music, your branding and your live shows,” she adds.

Therefore, branding is indeed very important to bands but the biggest take away here is that artistes must always remember to never sacrifice the integrity of their music for the sake of a huge following or a couple more likes on their Instagram.

Catch Subsonic Eye, Obedient Wives Club and other amazing local bands at Baybeats, July 14 to 16, 2017.