Sex, drugs and brand guidelines all have something in common and it’s not the advertising scene in the 80s…
You can learn a lot about about brand identity from Rock and Roll. From staying on brand with logo fonts to cultivating a community of advocates and fans, bands are often the perfect example of what a brand is beyond the physical assets. Not sure how they Come Together or what you can learn by tapping into your inner Mick Jagger? Read on, Daydream Believers…
A brand, in the traditional marketing sense, shows ownership of a product (ie who made it) but has come to mean a lot more. A brand, depending on who you ask, can be a logo and slogan combination, a selection of colours or the entire communication of a business’s values and purpose.
Something that is often overlooked however, is how a brand can actually exist outside of a company or business. Through its customers, advocates and community. The best example of this, like most things, comes from Rock and Roll.
Rolling Stones? Brand. Beatles? Brand. Bowie? Brand. The music and showmanship of these bands is a huge part of their successes, there is no debate there, but what makes these bands truly iconic is their brands.
Roll Over Beethoven
For The Beatles, a serendipitous combination of timing, style and musicianship lead them to be in the right place at the right time, but it was more than just luck that took them from Liverpool lads to the biggest band in the world, er… ever.
The Beatles were expertly managed by keen eyed industry professionals so that they appealed to all audiences, even if they raised a few eyebrows along the way. Sure, their hair was too long, but their shirts were super sharp. Yep, their songs were crazy catchy, but also continuously innovative. The Beatles became the definition of a Band as a Brand, meaning a thousand things to millions of people, yet uniting them all with their spirit of revolution, experimentation and youth in the 60s.
Start Me Up
Likewise, The Rolling Stones, with their legendary lips and tongue logo, embody the cheeky bad boy, the “underdog but actually better” counter to the contemporary Beatles. 60 years later, it may look like they need inflating/ironing but they still sing to their core audiences’ hearts, whilst new fans identify with their rock and roll linage through t-shirts, pins and patches available in high street chains.
Both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones embody the power of consistency in branding, time marches on but their songs (and values) remain the same. However, it is also possible to build a brand whilst consistently reshaping and pushing product boundaries. Proof comes in the form of the all mighty Bowie.
Despite constant reinvention, celestial exploration and an everlasting playfulness, David Bowie is one of the biggest music icons the world has ever seen. For most brands, this constant boundary pushing would spell the end, but for Bowie and the innovators he inspired, it was part of his package.
You Can’t be Me I’m a Rock Star
The success of these bands is in part due to the era through which they played, developed and evolved – they were radical times for all involved. But Alternative Businesses, no matter how small, can learn how to rock their brands by studying those who do it best.
The three examples given, and many other brands that came to define an era, were much more than music. They were values and beliefs packaged up and dressed appropriately. Values and beliefs that struck chords in entire generations as well as on guitars. The brands around these bands helped take their music from the record store and into the record books. Leaving a legacy that (sadly) has outlived many.
Unless you’re talking about the Stones of course…