Posted 31st August 2013 by Robert Bean
A helpful definition of a brand is ‘Promises Delivered.’
The distant promise of the ultimate brand – Rolls-Royce – is the rich smell of leather, the discreet instrumentation, the armchair seats, and that smooth power that pins you into the armchair as it pulls away effortlessly.
The reality of being in one is that it delivers against that promise every time.
This consistency is at the heart of what makes a brand.
And it’s why people trust and love their favourite brands.
But there’s more to it than this.
At the heart of every powerful brand around the world is an outstanding product.
Beyond the prestigious image and refined soft furnishings, Rolls-Royce’s brand wouldn’t survive if the engines kept conking out.
These principles are as true for bands aspiring to become brands as they are for cars, perfumes, or even banks.
But can they work for music and musicians?
Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and even Take That, have transcended being bands, into becoming iconic brands in their own right.
They all conform to these basic brand principles.
Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing ‘product’ was outstanding, beyond doubt.
But he also extended and consistently delivered against a big promise: a drug-addled, hazy, swirling sound that made you believe he was excitingly out of control.
Watching him made you feel the same way.
His appearance and personal life compounded all the expectations we had of him, making him consistently wild.
He was a near perfect brand.
The Rolling Stones consistently delivered against the deliciously lascivious ‘sex, drugs and rock’n roll’ promise, all wrapped up in outstanding tunes – their product.
Madonna’s ‘product’ is not her singing, nor her songwriting.
It’s her sex appeal.
She’s been selling it consistently since ‘Like a Virgin’; she’s now selling a 50+ version.
She hasn’t ‘re-invented’ herself; she’s just changed the packaging.
Gary Barlow, as good a songwriter as this generation has seen, writes big, sentimental songs, and the band delivers them in a ‘nice-boys-next-door-with-heart’ way.
In short, great brands have great products, they stand for something that they extend as a ‘promise’, and they’re consistent about their values in everything they do.
That’s how, over time, they become famous.
And that’s when the advertisers and the appearances on The Simpsons arrive.
Because they want to appropriate a brand’s values.
So, put simply, if you don’t have any, they won’t come.