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Here’s a mid-week mind-teaser for all the music fans out there—name the first band that leaps to mind:
Do you have these rockers firmly in mind? Let’s see how well you did. Here they are in order: ABBA, Jimmy Buffet, KISS, and Rolling Stones.
You probably guessed at least three within seconds, if not all four. That’s how deeply embedded these rockers’ brands are in our hearts and minds. You hear the words “cheeseburger” and “margaritas” in the same sentence, and it doesn’t matter if you’re ordering at a restaurant or planning the menu for an afternoon BBQ, you instantly think “Jimmy Buffet.”
So how have these musicians and bands successfully created a brand that consistently keeps their fans coming back for more?
Case in point: ABBA, the first band on our list, was one of the most famous bands in the world in the 1970s and is still beloved today. When the group released its all-time greatest hits collect “Abba Gold” in 2013, it skyrocketed to the top of sales charts, selling 23 million copies. On the surface, such a feat would seem a minor miracle, especially considering the fact that ABBA hasn’t performed together since December 11, 1982. But in the intervening years, ABBA has kept their youthful vibe firmly entrenched in the social consciousness by re-releasing hits from their heyday, and by their involvement in the popular musical “Mamma Mia,” based on one of their most famous songs.
When establishing a business brand, like a group’s brand, it is vital that early on you decide the style, tone, voice, and personality of your company. McDonalds is perhaps the most famous company brand: they are so committed to the consistency of their brand that whether you are in Calabasas, California or Calais, France, the look and menu of each McDonald’s restaurant is virtually identical.
Another company that has done an outstanding job of branding itself is Brawny paper towels. You can’t think of Brawny without thinking of the handsome, rugged man who graces the plastic wrap around each roll.
Consistency means knowing what fans of your brand expect and delivering it time after time. Imagine if the Brawny Man were suddenly replaced by the image of a cute little bunny? The fans of the brand may be put off by the change. Worse yet, the perception of the paper towel itself might change: from strong and able to take on any mess to soft and gentle—not ideal for wiping up spaghetti sauce.
One key thing that superstar brands accomplish so well is that they market to who people want to be, not necessarily who they are. When you listen to Jimmy Buffett croon about whiling away the days in Margaritaville, you see yourself on that same beach–even if you’re really sitting at your desk late at night paying bills. You’re a rebel at heart, despite the surgery scrubs suit you wear to work each day, so your iPod is filled with classic KISS and Rolling Stones.
People want to belong to something: a movement, a group, a belief system. Music helps them do that. Companies can, too. Toyota’s Prius line is marketed to people who want to help the environment—buying a fuel saving car may be their first step. Harley Davidson motorcycles has done a masterful job of turning daytime accountants into weekend warriors.
For your company, its important to differentiate what your brand will accomplish for the customer that others won’t. Once you determine what that is, you can shape your marketing campaign to reflect the ideal that people want to achieve.
Find Something No One Else is Doing and Do it Well
Forty years ago, Wicked Lester was just another band among the thousands trying to be heard above the cacophony of the early 70’s New York City rock scene. So how did this group of musicians go from playing in nearly empty bars in 1972 to one of the biggest selling acts in the world just three years later? They found a brilliant way to differentiate themselves. They created a whole new image for themselves, literally. They took on graphic novel-worthy alter egos. They lathered elaborate makeup on their faces, becoming virtually unrecognizable. They took the band name from boring and basic to something that could mean, well, something evil (an acronym for…???). This band is known worldwide to their legions of loyal fans as KISS.
The KISS lesson is a great one to embrace. Rick Otten, founder of ReaderRest Magnetic Eyeglass holder (the product won “Shark Tank in 2013), recognized that the accepted way of keeping eyeglasses close at hand—a cord or chain around the neck, propped up on the top of the head, or vulnerably stored in a shirt pocket—didn’t work for everyone. He created a simple magnetized glasses holder that prevents people from losing their glasses. He didn’t try to make a more “innovative” glasses cord—he solved the problem an entirely different way. In less than two years, his company has had over $7 million in sales.
The key here is to be different, not “better.” Everyone has their own definition of “better.” By being different, you as a marketing expertcan define what is “better,” indeed, what is “best.”
The rock star in all of us
As marketers, there is a lot we can learn from superstar bands to help us launch our companies and brands into the stratosphere. To pirate a song title from KISS, these bands “Sure Know Something” and it’s time for us to learn it, too.
Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
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