Friday, February 17, 2006

American Idol 2006: Branding Tips for Aspiring Stars

After braving 3 straight seasons of American Idol and easing into a fourth, I think it's obvious to most that a winning voice is not the biggest factor for success as a pop star.
Year after year, audition after audition, the judges practically SCREAM to contestants what they're looking for.

Wide Range Appeal.
A brandable style.

And do the tens of thousands of people auditioning hear this? Apparently not.

Seriously, how many Mariah sound alikes can we endure? MUST singing up and down a single note for an eternity and a day become de rigueur? Vocal gymnastics are not all that and sound canned after a while.

Just sing the damn song and quit quivering like a wannabe, I say.

Well, if you're an American Idol hopeful, then take a look at these tips stolen from the branding geniuses of marketing. You're a coat of many colors kid, but those colors need to make a comprehensible picture.

(Even if you're not trying out for American Idol, these tips can help you whittle down your message to something unified and easier to absorb.)

1. Who's Your Daddy?
Sorry to say, but there's nothing new under the sun. We're all just riffing on yesterday's ideas, adding today's spin. That spin is important and we'll get to it, but first start making a list of who your greatest influences are.

Aretha Franklin or Karen Carpenter? Kurt Cobain or Barry Manilow? Madonna or Mariah? Try to come up with at least 3.

2. Stretch Your Vocabulary Muscles
Contemplate each of your influences and start brainstorming words that describe that person. Soulful? Down to earth? Diva? Chic? Trendy? Strong? Romantic? Raunchy? Try to come up with at least 10 words for each person who influences you.

3. Get Focused
Now take that list and pick out your top 15 words that best describe you too. After you do that, chop it down to 10, then finally whittle it down to the 5 most accurate words that describe you.

4. Connect the Dots
Now that you have a list of words that describe your style, use it to guide how you communicate your sound, your image, your vibe. Use it to select material and how you physically represent it.

6. Make it sing YOU!
Your guiding words are intrinsic to you in all that you do. Put your personal mark on it. Don't be a cheap copycat- really mold it to fit your unique gifts.

You don't have to be an American Idol contestant to benefit from a tighter focus on who you are and what you offer. Let it guide you, not trap you to superstar glam success.