How to brand like a rock star

What can business learn from the oft-chaotic world of rock? 

That would be quite a lot, as a capacity audience at the former Vivendi at the Strand found out on Friday, 16 December. 

Author and music buff Steve Jones has brought out a new book, Brand Like a Rock Star, and during a one-hour presentation he outlined a top-10 list of how lessons could be drawn from the careers of various bands. 

He posed the question, ‘What if the secrets to building a successful business were hidden in rock n roll’ and proceeded to explain that statement. 

Branding, he said, was way beyond a logo; people have an emotional connection to the product. Building a brand is a 360 degree experience and everything went into it. 

Mr. Jones pegged consistency as important and gave examples of AC/DC – whose look and sound has not changed in 30 years – and The Beatles, whose consistent message was that they were always evolving as a band. 

The story does not change, he said, but how you tell it does. 

All brands begin as ‘opening acts’, postulated the ex-radio guru, who said prior to Bob Marley exploding into the mainstream reggae did not have a name but he brought it to the world by growing a niche. 

It is much more advisable to be different than better, Mr. Jones said. Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan and the Jamaican bobsled team were examples of that. Quality is of course important, he said, but being unique more so. 


Think Different 

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville was a case study for selling an experience, as was Apple’s Think Different campaign. A brand could sell this temporary escape from reality. 

It is also important to meet expectations and not overstretch your brand beyond these; knowing what the fans expect is key. Truth is also at the heart of honest marketing, which works, Mr. Jones said. 

There is also One Thing that you may be good at; Rolex watches are considered to be high end and single function. They could introduce a $500 entry level timepiece, he said, but that would damage the brand. 

Brands working together in partnerships could also be powerful, such as when Aerosmith and Run DMC released the seminal rock/rap crossover Walk This Way. However, this could be tricky in terms of brand equity and values. 

Knowing your enemy and your own brand was one of the most important aspects of the presentation. Rivalries could drive stories forward and help define each brand. 

Finally and rather aptly, Mr. Jones advised that leaving ‘em wanting more would drive up demand. Amongst many examples, Tickle me Elmo, due to its low supply, had very high demand and this pointed to the basic tenet of economics that scarcity and demand equalled value. 

Attendees to this Cayman Free Press-presented event enjoyed snacks and each took away a copy of Mr. Jones’ book at the end of the successful session. 

steve jones brand like a rock star

How to get ahead in business – guitars, drums and lessons from the rock bands. – Photo: Joe Shooman

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