Assignments for My Branding Workshop


Seth Godin, Tribes (excerpt).

[When I assigned this to my students, some of them thought it was inspiring, and some thought it was silly. Your call! Godin -- whom you may know as a very famous marketing/entrepreneurship/self-empowerment guru, thinks that all of us can find people who'll love what we do. So this is meant to encourage you. (Unless you think it's silly.] And to show all of us a very good reason for branding ourselves. It's part of what we can do to find our fans/audience. Godin talks mainly about doing this on the Internet, so you might consider (1) how you can use the Internet to widen your own reach, even if what you do (giving concerts, for instance) happens mainly in physical space, and (2) how you can convert Godin's Internet-based ideas into something you can use in the physical world.]

 Greg Sandow:

A Bad Press Release

A Bad Caramoor Press Release

How to Write a Press Release

[Three of my blog posts. The first two demonstrate -- at least for me -- why classical music so badly needs branding. Much of our PR and marketing doesn't say anything, giving outsiders no reason to care about anything we do. The third post is my take on what could be done, what we could write, in press releases (and of course elsewhere) that might make people care. Each of the releases I invent has a possible brand hidden in it. If the imaginary musician the release is about kept doing the things I imagine, and talking about them in the way I suggest, the world might form a clear -- and enticing -- idea of who these musicians are. And why they should be heard.]

Empty Branding:

[An example of how not to do it -- a piece of classical music branding that falls on its face (or at least I think so) because, while what it says is perfectly true, it's also irrelevant.]

My wife's bio:

[An example of something good to do, at least in my view. My wife Anne Midgette is chief classical music critic of the Washington Post, and this is the bio she wrote to describe herself on her blog. I like it because it's intriguing and lively. And personal, without being cutesy or irrelevant. Each personal detail either deepens her professional resumé, or makes her more interesting.]   

Jade Simmons:

 Are You a Victim of Artistic Identity Theft?

[A post from Jade's "Emerge Already" blog. She urges classical musicians to be themselves, to play what they want to play. And she lists obstacles to doing that, obstacles she's run into in her own career.]

Graphics to look at:

Two big-corporation ads:

Oscar Meyer Butcher Thick Cut Bacon


[What do these ads wants us to think and feel, and how do they make us do that?]

 Viktoria Mullova's publicity photos

[From her website. This photo is my favorite -- you might have to scroll down to see it -- though you, of course, might prefer another one. When you look at these photos, what would you expect her playing to be like?]

 Short videos: 

Ghosts and Flowers: The Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia

[Made by two recent Juilliard graduates, Arianna Warsaw-Fan and Meta Weiss. As far as I know, they didn’t intend to brand themselves. But if they made more videos like this, what would their brand be?]

 "Handel Hits the Road"

[Daria van den Bercken, a Dutch pianist, goes on the streets of Amsterdam to promote herself playing Handel's keyboard music. Makes a good contrast with "Ghosts and Flowers." If this was Daria's branding, what would we think of her?]

Spot Ninja

[A video promoting the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg to young people. What do they want young people to think of them?]

 Simone Dinnerstein electronic press kit

[A video that's the first thing you see when you go to Dinnerstein's website, which is where the link takes you. It may or may not be meant as branding, but see if you agree with me when I say I think it brands her powerfully. Then ask yourself how you'd describe the branding, and whether it's carried through elsewhere on the site.]


Cleveland Orchestra

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Brooklyn Philharmonic                      


New England Conservatory

[When you look at these sites, what do you feel about the organizations that made them? What do you think the organizations want you to feel?]

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