Want some inspiration for differentiating your brand(s)? Look no further than your Galaxy or iphone — or for you traditionalists, your CD, vinyl, or even 8-track (yikes!) collection.

Consider the various performers represented there. What’s the appeal? Are more than one of their songs a favorite? How does one particular artist or band compare to another? How about this: even though you may love heavy metal, you (probably) don’t own every song ever produced by every heavy metal band. Why?

Obviously, there are major differences among artists — even within the same musical genre. And (no mystery here) we’re drawn to one or another artist/band/ensemble/etc. because of a variety of things: the music and lyric writing, the “sound,” the performance, peer recommendation, some kind of personal association or history, etc. Whatever the reason for you, it’s a matter of personal taste: you like what you like and no one is going to tell you otherwise.

In their own distinctive way, there are likely no better brand-building role models for us business types than successful music performers. Because success in the highly cluttered (read: uber-competitive) music business requires a “brand identity” (yes, I said it) that’s unique to that specific artist: a unique sound, a signature look, a distinctive performance experience — whatever.

And success in the music industry doesn’t equate to appealing to the most listeners (think of Widespread Panic or the Grateful Dead). Instead, it means building a loyal following, often a very niche following, who repeatedly buy, engage across multiple platforms, and enthusiastically proselytize.

Music professionals have long recognized and embraced this critical brand identity concept: we can’t possibly appeal to all potential buyers, so focus on those who we appeal to the most. Own those who we best align with — those who are drawn to our distinctive sound … OWN them, and forget about the rest.

So, what’s your brand’s distinctive sound? Who’s your narrowly focused market? How is your brand performance unique? It’s no simple task to consider, so sit back, enjoy some music, and unleash your inner Rick Springfield and rock on.