It's OK, I'm With the Brand
Sometimes a band is more than just a band. It's a brand. A new book from Steve Jones titled "Brand Like a Rock Star" makes just that point. Rock stars and bands, like brands, go through a similar process before making it big. They must find their niche, build their following and then stand out from the competition.
Take Jimmy Buffett as a prime example. While I personally can't stand to listen to "Margaritaville" one more time, I'm fully aware of the song's popularity. Buffett has created a dominant brand, which is evidenced not only by his record sales, but by his Margaritaville restaurant chain, clothing line, blenders, footwear, books and even tequilla. The secret to his success? It's what Jones refers to as a "dysfunctional family." Parrot Heads, a group that plans their vacations around Buffett's concert schedule, is an intensely loyal following. Those fans could be considered brand evangelists.
But before the Parrot Heads were the Parrot Heads, they were just tailgaters. By listening to the tailgaters, the Coconut Telegraph, a fan club newsletter that helped fans organize get-togethers, was created. The crowds got bigger and bigger at these pre-show festivities due to positive word-of-mouth generated by the newsletter.
Brands that have engaging conversations with their fans succeed. Another example from the world of music is the Grateful Dead and its Dead Head following. The Grateful Dead allowed the taping and sharing of its concert audio footage, which encouraged a type of "social sharing" way before the term was coined. "This dedication to freely sharing led to millions of people being exposed to music they otherwise would have never heard," noted Jones in his book.
But in order for your brand to rock, you'll need to do more than grow your fan base like Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead. A common theme of the book is the need for evil to bring about good. For example, without Lex Luther there isn't a need for Superman; with no demons, there's no need for angels; and so on. With this in mind, Jones encourages readers to follow Green Day's advice and "Know Your Enemy."