Last summer, Ziggy Marley oversaw the release of yet another album of remixed Bob Marley songs, this one called “B is for Bob”. As Ziggy describes it, this albums contains Bob Marley songs remixed for children, the way that Bob Marley used to play the songs for his own children.
I’ve written before about the amazing strength of the Bob Marley brand. By sticking to his one little niche – reggae music – at a time when nobody else was paying any attention to it, Bob eventually brought the world to his music without ever compromising himself. He created music that transcended race, religion, and genre. Long after his death, Bob Marley’s estate makes millions every year. In 2005, Forbes magazine ranked Bob Marley #12 on the list of the most profitable dead celebrities, just behind Irving Berlin and ahead of Ray Charles. The estate’s 2005 earnings were estimated at $6 million US, and today most estimates put Bob’s annual earnings at over $10 million US. Unfortunately for Bob and his heirs, an even greater amount of money is generated by unauthorized use of his face, music, and brand. You can’t hit a steel drum on any island south of Miami without hitting something with Bob Marley’s face on it.
The release of a children’s album is an interesting step in the Bob Marley brand. It is said that every college kid in North America goes through a Bob Marley phase. Now, that phase might happen even earlier.
Like The Beatles “Rock Band” release in September, this Bob Marley children’s project takes the music to an entirely new group of fans. Imagine 30 years from now, a generation of kids who consider themselves raised on an artist who died 25 years before they were born. That’s an enduring brand legacy!
Hopefully your brand isn’t dead. But hopefully you are thinking about how you introduce it to new potential customers.
* What aspects of your brand can you use to bring new customers or fans into the group? Just like Ziggy chose specific songs for their lyrics and meaning, you can choose elements of your brand to showcase to specific new fans.
* What small changes can you make to your brand in order to lure in new fans? There aren’t likely to be many true Bob Marley fans revolting at the release of “B is for Bob”. Are there aspects of your brand that can be tweaked to attract new fans without alienating your present customers?
* Clearly Bob Marley’s music connects with people on an emotional level. What angles can you take on your brand to highlight your emotional connections? Instead of promoting your brand’s attributes (what you do), consider promoting your brand’s benefits (how it makes your customer feel).
* Looking at the track listing for this album, many essential Bob Marley songs are missing. It wouldn’t be a children’s album if songs like “Legalize It” and “African Herbsman” were included. Part of your brand story is what you leave out. When telling your brand story, carefully choose what you include. And even more carefully choose what you leave out.
By the way, Ziggy Marley also released a great album last year called “Family Time” which features Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, and Rita Marley. The album is geared for kids but sounds sweet to ears of all ages.
Here’s Ziggy Marley talking about the album “B is for Bob” and the inspiration he drew from his father and his music.