Critical Reflection Essay

Amber Mauger (4126)

A promotion package for the release of an album, to include:

  • a music video (major task)
  • a social media page (minor task)
  • a digipak (minor task)
  • How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of ‘branding’?
  • How did your research inform your products and the way they use or challenge conventions?
  • How do your products represent social groups or issues?
  • How do your products engage with the audience?

The front pane of my digipak

Branding is a lifestyle or a story about the nature of your artist; a set of values, attitudes and beliefs; an ideology. It also includes a recognizable name, symbol or design. The brand ‘lives in the minds and gut reactions of your audience’ as stated by Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap. Our artist’s mission statement includes her key ideologies– self love and female empowerment. Our star leads a very active role in her audience’s lives which fulfills their uses and gratifications. Our design elements are coherent across our multi-media package and work together, creating a cohesive representation of our star and her star image. They all communicate meaning, our brand values which consist of confidence, emancipation and growth. We’ve encoded our multi-media packages so our audience can decode and gain their preferred readings. Hall describes that encoding a media text is vital in order for the audience to gain a preferred reading, because if the repertoire of elements isn’t what the audience expects, they could have an oppositional or negotiated reading.

A screenshot of my Social Media Page using Twitter

The star image that my audience would expect to see would be powerful imagery to co-inside with her female power, evident across all of my multi-media packages. My music video signifies the power through varied shots and poses, typically where she is centre frame in combination with the setting representing her confidence, elegance & sophistication. In my digipak the bold, yellow sans-serif typeface and pink satin sheet create a complimentary, aesthetically pleasing, artful colour palette and the mise-en-scene used fulfil the audience’s expectations as they imply the star’s key ideologies. In our social media page we made sure to continue the complementary colour palette in our cover photo. The music video and digipak products were thoroughly promoted in our social media page through the type of posts we posted, such as exclusive teasers and a live chat to discuss the music video, and a promotion of the digipak when the album was produced, all of which fulfilled our brand values for our audience to decode and gain interactions. 

A screenshot from my performance music video

After researching professional R&B music videos, we discovered that they’re edited at a fast and energetic cutting speed, elegant & stylish framing and are typically all performance. They used conventional mise-en-scene such as naturalistic makeup, stylish hairstyles and artists wore dresses. In particular, I watched Doja Cat’s video ‘Say So’ which is a performance with the generic conventions of R&B music, such as primary, bold colours and a sexually stereotyped representation of women. We used some of the same generic conventions from ‘Say So’ in our music video, like naturalistic makeup which is complimented by the colours of the outfits our star wears. These are called the ‘repertoire of elements’ defined by Lacey, a group of generic elements. He suggested that these elements are what the target audience expects to see. Altman described genre as the ‘blueprint’, which is a map of what’s going to be constructed in the video and suggests that genre is also a contract with their fans, where the audience knows what type of music and videos they’re going to get from the artists they like, and they will be disappointed if their gratifications aren’t fulfilled. This is known as predictable pleasure.

A screenshot from my performance music video

In our music video, we decided to use some of the same generic conventions such as involving similar themes like naturalistic makeup, stylish hairstyles and generic tight dresses. The style of filming was generic to our genre, as we included a fast paced cutting speed in our video and made sure our shots were all typical angles of the R&B genre, such as wide angles and rule of thirds which placed her firmly in context with the location. We filmed in two upper class and prestigious locations, with high key lighting. Our star performed straight to the camera, which is a direct address to the audience, typical of our genre, representing the star as bold, successful and powerful.

The front pane of my digipak

Representing our star in an original way, in all of the products was essential to creating a successful package. Our star is known for her powerful and glamorous nature, and her metanarrative exposes the seductive side to her too. This evidences the extraordinary aspect of Dyer’s paradox of the star, as she displays a few different personalities – she can be glamorous and present herself as captivating, but can also show the seductive side to her which references an alluring nature; both of these sides are represented in the digipak. Our star is very present in her audience’s lives, through social group chats, styles and identities. 

The back pane of my digipak

In our digipak, we wanted to represent our star through our themes, female power, success and glamour. We photographed her in soft, high key lighting where she was lying on a pink satin sheet. This represented her as powerful and influential, as well as glamorous which are key themes, due to the mise-en-scene included. Barthes would suggest that these are semic codes which are units of meaning in reference to lighting/camera angles and colours. We have used lighting as one of our semic codes, and have portrayed our star as glamorous. This type of lighting infers positive messages and female empowerment, which is what we are trying to portray to our audience. The pose of our star on the front cover of our digipak represents her feminine confidence, due to her looking directly at the camera which is another use of semic codes, implying confidence and a direct sense of engagement with her audience. The fragmentation of her body on the inside panels is conventional to our genre, as female bodies are normally quite sexualised and provocative in the R&B genre, however we didn’t sexualise her, subverting the convention as we portrayed her as powerful and confident. 

A screenshot of my Social Media Page using Twitter

Engaging the audience is our main aim of marketing, and advertising campaigns without audience’s buy -ins means the success of my product launch will be minimised as the social media page is full of opportunities to engage the fans of our star. The function of a marketing campaign is to raise awareness of new products or to capture feedback and buzz and excitement, as they are organised efforts to promote a goal.

Our star’s merch to assist her branding

In our social media page, we were conscious of the uses and gratifications audiences seek from media as defined by Blumler and Katz, and which specific media satisfies their needs. We included a live chat on Twitter which gave our fans the opportunity to socially interact with other fans of R&B but also fans of the star. We created merch, as part of our marketing campaign to endorse our star and her fans. Audiences will signify themselves as a fan of a particular genre of music, known as the ‘badge of identity’, which links to merch as it gives the opportunity for the audience to dress like their favourite star. Merch is all about personal identity and is one of our key calls to action. The goals of this campaign was to attract, interest, desire and create a call to action, making up AIDA, the marketing mantra. We attracted fans to our social media page using the face of our star in the profile picture, in a glamorous and languid close up. Our star’s face is really central which gauges her importance and her confidence as an individual. We contained the same colours from our digipak, the pinks and yellows, creating a sense of desire for our audience, who may wish to emulate our star. The pink colour provides a bold and powerful impression; a code that the demographics of the target audience, young females, would relate to as her genre is R&B. It’s important to include all relevant information and entertainment for the page, like links to other media so our audience’s uses and gratifications were fulfilled. We also included a teaser of her music video and a tour poster to drive interest and engagement. 

Critical Reflection Prep

Preparation for essay

PDF file of document attached to first image.

In order to prepare for our essay, we created a planning document where we embedded our ideas into the critical planning sheet. I carefully constructed my answer to each individual question, making sure to include the specific terminology for each part to the question and I made sure to answer the steer of the question too. I included the theory for the question too, and spoke about the key theorists in relation to each part of the essay, as different theorists were needed to be included for different aspects of the question.


Social Media Page Draft 1 self assessment

Our Social Media Page

Link to the social media page on screenshot of image above.

Kita and I decided to make our Social Media Page on Twitter for our star.

We feel that we’ve included most of the features that would be expected to appear on a social media page. We have reflected on our page, and have picked out specific features that we’ve included such as:

  • Design Coherence – Our social media page includes the same generic colour scheme as our digipak, as well as images and fonts.
  • Content – We’ve included additional teasers in our social media page such as images and a 15 second teaser of our music video.
  • Timeline – We have created a sense of excitement leading up to the release of our album through teasers and a live stream
  • Cross Media Convergence – We have included an exclusive interview with Radio 1 star Maya Jama, creating links with other medias and another star
  • Promotion of live events – There is a live tour next year which has been promoted on our page alongside our teasers for our album release which can create extra revenue
  • A call to action – We have included links to a specific personalised webpage for our star, which includes links to her spotify for a point of sale and also for her fans to boy her merch and tour tickets
  • Ordinary / Extraordinary – By including a live stream in our social media page, we have created an insight into our stars life for her fans to see her as a proper individual
  • Interaction / Engagement – We have created interactions between the audience and the star through a live chat, merch and personable phrases
  • Issues and charities – The star is donating a percentage of her revenue from the merch to a Cancer Research charity, which involves a major global issue which many people die from each year, so she is trying to help save lives by donating some money

We have kept the generic conventions of our R&B genre throughout the social media page, which links with the digipak and music video too. Our page is unique, and stands out to our target audience.

Teacher feedback:

Our teacher gave us feedback on our social media page for our star, Christiana. The feedback can really help us from the aspects where we know what we’ve done right, and how generically pleasing our page is for our audience, and aspects we can improve. The only target we received is:

  • Try and embed the actual PDF file of our digipak to the relevant twitter post

Timeline and Marketing Ideas

Our timeline/marketing ideas

Above is our timeline of marketing ideas for our social media page in chronological order, so that we know which posts are posted in what order.

Our aim is for our star to interact with her fans through live streams and captions, showing them her star and brand image and to gain mutual respect on a personal level. We are also aiming to promote her music through some promotional posts and through teasers of her digipak and music video. We want our audience or fan base to be engaged with our posts, so we are also including merchandise for them to purchase to feel closer to the star. We feel that it is very significant to build our campaign until the ultimate release date, which is the release of the album, as this keeps our audience engaged and means they are able to participate in our campaign which creates audience participation and builds stronger bonds with the star.

Audience Interaction with a Social Media Page – an analysis

Screen Castify

Above is a screen castify spoken by myself and Kita about Jorja Smith’s facebook page, and how she provides uses and gratification for her fans. We chose her as she is an artist of the same genre as the genre we are working on, R&B. We deconstructed her page and analysed the key technical conventions involved, as well as how the page uses AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) through its design and content, and how she uses Guerilla marketing to promote her products.


PDF file attached to first screenshot.



This is our script that we created in order to know what to say in our screen castify. We shared out the script between us so we both had equal stuff to say.


Social Media Page Terminology

Specific terminology in a social media page

Above is my presentation on an artist similar to mine, Jorja Smith who creates music of the same genre, R&B. After looking at the specific terminology used in a social media page, I was able to take screenshots and decode and analyse further meaning on how my chosen artist replicated these on her page. I have learnt about the technical conventions in a social media page, which will help me when constructing my own. This presentation made it clear what is needed to be included in our social media page when Kita and I create one.

Digipak Draft 3

Our third Digipak Draft

Digipak PDF file attached to first image.

Above are our four digipak panes, which include a front cover, two inside covers and a back cover. I am very happy with my third draft. After getting feedback from my teacher through a screen castify, myself and Kita were able to identify areas that we wanted to change and how to improve our digipak. We have completed all of our targets from our teachers feedback, and are happy with the third draft.

Our digipak in CD casing

Our digipak has been printed out and put in cd casing so we can see how it looks in a professional way. Once printed and put in the casing, Kita and I could see the areas that we loved of our digipak. Overall, we are really happy with the outcome of our digipak, and we feel that our target audience would buy the digipak due to choosing specific generic conventions which would stand out to our audience that listen to this genre of music.

Audience tally

I created a straw poll where peers of ours could decide what genre they believe our digipak is based on. The results are very positive, meaning we have gotten a preferred reading across to our target audience, and we feel that we have created a digipak which replicates our chosen genre well. The specific brand elements and generic conventions have suggested to our target audience what genre our digipak is. However, we have also included unconventional features in our digipak, so we are happy that more peers identified our chosen genre, although we understand why some chose pop, as they are very similar and contain some of the same generic conventions.

Digipak Draft 2

Our second Digipak Draft

Digipak PDF file attached to first image.

Above are all 4 of our digipak panes, which include the front cover, two inside covers and the back cover. I am really pleased with our second draft, as we have changed a few things from our first draft to improve the overall look of our digipak.

We have changed the typeface on the front to a more bold typeface, which will stand out and catch our target audience’s eye, due to there being a drop shadow behind the album name too. We have also changed the typeface on the back cover, to an easier to read typeface, which is still maintaining the typical typeface our genre includes. We have changed the colour of our typefaces from black to yellow, where we chose a complimentary colour to the pink satin, to make both of the colours stand out. We have also smoothed our star’s hair on the front cover, to give our digipak a more professional outcome.

Feedback from teacher

Above is a screencastify from our teacher issuing myself and Kita feedback on our second draft of our digipak. Our teacher really loved our second draft, and believed it fitted in with our themes of glamour and power. However, there are areas for improvement, which I have listed below.

Targets for improvement:

  • Colour correct her lip colour
  • Change the typeface on the front cover, make it a bit less bold and try alternative fonts
  • Add the artist name on the front cover to make it an unconventional feature
  • Work on colour correction on the third cover so it matches the other covers or possibly add other design features or change that cover completely to a different image
  • Change the typeface of the tracklist on the back cover to a simple and elegant font
  • Get rid of the numbers on the back cover, make it unconventional
  • Look at the record company logo as it’s cropped at the moment and change position of barcode on cover

Digipak Draft 1

Our first Digipak Draft

Digipak PDF file attached to first image.

Above are 3 of our digipak panes, which include the front cover, an inside cover and the back cover. I am really pleased with this draft as it is exactly what I was intending to include in the first draft.

I am really happy with the colours used, the pink satin fabric really stands out against the model and her tones which makes our digipak enticing and makes it stand out. The mise-en-scene is perfect for our genre and key themes, which are power and glamour, as her makeup, hair and outfits are glamorous and the poses and angles she is in portray her power. The lighting in our shots is very effective, as it highlight her main features as well as picking up the brightly coloured pink satin, giving a powerful contrast to our covers.

I have created a powerpoint above detailing my own self assessment of my first draft, comparing it to previous students work, so that I can understand how my audience will interact with my digipak, which will give me a preferred reading of my star. I believe that my work is currently at a B grade, and will work on my further drafts to improve using the feedback I have set myself below.

I have set myself a few targets for my next draft:

  • I need to smooth out her hair in the front cover so it looks more sleek
  • Look at the the font used for the front cover and possibly change it?
  • Change the colour of the writing to a colour which compliments the pink satin
  • Add in another inside cover of gold jewellery, to portray the glamorous side to our star

Evaluation of shoot

Photos from shoot

Above are four of our favourite shots from the shoot.

I feel that our shoot went really well, and that our aims were met. We included the specific mise-en-scene relevant to our genre, and most of our shots were well-lit, which brightened our star’s key features and tones to enhance the quality of our shots. We managed to take a wide range of photos, with a vast range of shots including close ups, mid shots and aerial shots which we can choose from.

Referring back to our PMA was very helpful, as we could see exactly what we were intending to do in our shoot, which made our shoot quicker and easier, as we knew exactly what to bring and how to dress and portray our star, through the types of poses and her key themes, which are glamour and power.