Chicago Symphony

How to Build A Brand for Your Performing Group

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The brilliance of a brand is that it needs no explaining. Let me… explain.

A brand should be so powerful, defined, and part of an organization that it conjures an immediate image. Some brands come pre-loaded with powerful memories and personal experience. Some come alive through the experience of others and the re-telling of a story.

Can you build a brand for your performing group that has that kind of power to connect? Of course you can! First, figure out what you are going to sound like as an ensemble. Every musician in your group, at every performance, should have a musical vision of how you are going to sound before a note is played or a lyric is sung. Think of it as your group has a secret you are about to share with the audience.

What are some components of a signature sound that can be uniquely your own? Here are some musical brands we all know and some of the attributes that make them who they are:

CHICAGO SYMPHONY – The world’s most powerful brass section, the Chicago Symphony (who plays at their home in Orchestra Hall) is known for almost brutal renderings of symphonic works, most especially Mahler, Wagner and Holst. A musician thinks of unparalleled brilliance in ensemble playing and musicianship, when the Chicago Symphony is mentioned. The Symphony plays at Orchestra Hall in Chicago – did we mention we have an elite performing event there?

THE OHIO STATE MARCHING BAND – Power chords coming at fans across the field articulated by pure brass and old school percussion in the Ohio State Marching Band’s inimitable style makes them instantly recognizable as “the best band the land”. Even the subtle phase shift induced by the blocking that inevitably occurs during a field performance seems calculated to take advantage of massive parallel block chords. They are a musical volcano.

BOB DYLAN – Bob Dylan’s nasal tonality delivered with wandering rhythms in a sort of sing/speak modern version of “Sprechstimme” that is instantly recognizable, completely inimitable and uniquely his own. Nestled among simple rhythm sections and backed by folk-like bands, there are not many vocal brands as powerful as Dylan’s.

ROBERT SHAW CHORALE – If an ensemble can define a genre, it is the Robert Shaw Chorale’s 1957 recording Christmas Hymns and Chorale. The voices glisten. The experience is so warm, so real, it’s visceral. Their musicianship transcends the notes and the result is a resonance and warmth that unforgettable and completely their own.

Now that we have explored some of the individual elements that can help to define an audio brand, start thinking about what you need to do to create a sound that can become the foundation of your own brand.

What is your ensemble’s brand?

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