Watch out for packaging

A marvelous comment, on one of my previous branding posts, from Gerald Klickstein. So many thanks for this:

In my teaching of music entrepreneurship, I make a distinction between ‘branding’ and ‘packaging.’ I.e., in a nutshell, a brand is like a mission or promise – think of the Kronos Quartet – it derives from artists’ true values (those ‘inner’ qualities you refer to). When packaging supports the mission, it resonates; when it doesn’t, it confuses or, worse, comes across as shallow.

Beautifully put.

And likewise this, from Curtis Perry, who posted it as a comment to my Facebook link to my last branding post. It’s about the power of design — visual design, for instance — in bringing out the depth of something:

Design is not a veneer; it is the meticulous execution of a pristine vision, all the way through.

A beautiful way to describe what happens when, as Gerald says, packaging supports the mission.

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  1. says

    I think of a brand as a promise to your target audience of how you are the ideal person to deliver what that audience is looking for because of your unique qualities. When I teach branding, I have my students do a mission statement of what their “ideal world” looks like, whom they are impacting in the ideal world and what their role is in creating that impact. In essence, a brand is yet another tool for creating meaningful audience engagement.

    For more on how to use your brand to connect with your audience, see

  2. says

    I love that you’re writing about branding, Greg, but I hope you’ll draw a distinction between brands as reputations and the broad array of brand management tools which are also, unfortunately, referred to as brands. In my experience, arts professionals tend to fixate on the things they can see, touch or hear and lose sight of the fact that their brands don’t actually exist in tangible form.

    Brands are the collective disposition of the market toward the product. If they can be said to exist, it’s in the minds of all the people who’ve ever come in contact with the product. All the other stuff – the logos, styles, packaging, attitude, personality, colors, dress, haircuts, language, design, photography, etc. are tools we use to influence that disposition.

    I know it’s semantics to some extent, but I never really understood branding until this was made clear to me. And I can’t recall who said it but this has always helped me keep the two straight: “Anyone who say he can show you a brand is either a horse’s ass, or means to have you look at one.”

  3. says

    Image is essential I believe. There was a very good film, set in the London suburbs in the early 1960’s, shown on U.K. television last summer. The actress, aged 22, played a 16 year old. Although the film character she played went out at the weekends wearing more adult clothes, for a large part of the film she was at school acting the character’s real age. Here is a quote about the part she played:

    ‘Wearing a school uniform and hanging out in classrooms certainly helped get her in the mindset of a frustrated teenager. “I felt horrid in the uniform,” she reveals. “The crew started treating me like a 12-year-old; they stopped swearing in front of me.”’

    If a professional film crew immediately start treating an adult actress as a child because she is wearing a school uniform, surely this is confirmation that appearance is too powerful to not take seriously.

    • says

      Ian, you’re really on to something. And also we should remember that everyone has an image, whether they plan to have one or not. Many of us might say, “Oh, I’m not the kind of vain person who cares about how I dress.” But if how you dress, or something else about the image you project, is standing in the way of your success, wouldn’t that be worth looking at? Or at least understanding, so that you could say, “Oh, I don’t care about how I dress, and I’m proud of that. If that means people won’t come to my concerts, I’ll just play to smaller audiences.”