Smart Businesses Wear Glasses

Buddy Holly had a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses that he wore on stage. At the time, nobody else wore black horn-rimmed glasses, let alone a rock star on stage! Buddy Holly stood out among his peers.

A young John Lennon was heavily influenced by Buddy Holly. In fact, he named his band in homage to Holly’s “Crickets”, calling his band “Beatles”. But John was also influenced by those glasses, and decided to wear his own glasses on stage quite frequently. Today, people often refer to round wire glasses as “John Lennon glasses”.

Does your brand have a visual cue that helps establish your identity, or do you look pretty much the same as all of your competitors?

Car dealers are notorious for sameness. Open up any newspaper to see their ads all looking nearly identical. Same with real estate agents. Does anybody have the guts to stand out?

Here’s a way to gauge this: If your logo was removed from your advertising piece, and your competitor’s logo was put in its place, would your advertising still work?  If the answer is yes, you aren’t different enough. Your ad should only work with your company, and look ridiculous with anyone else’s logo.

Be brave. Be different. Stand out.

Buddy Holly did it. Elton John did it. KISS did it. Lady Gaga does it.

You can do it too.

To help make your business stand out in the crowd, order Brand Like A Rock Star now. And don’t forget to grab your free 100 page Musical Companion from Amazon. It is the #1 most popular free marketing book in the Kindle store.


Buddy Holly, Elton John, John Lennon, KISS, Lady GaGa, Uncategorized 3,137 Comments

What Do You Do When Everybody Hates You?


What do you do when everybody apparently hates you?

Two bands are dealing with that issue these days. One of them hit the jackpot. The other hasn’t figured out their next move yet.

Nickelback has become the band it is cool to hate, and when they were announced as the halftime entertainment at the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game, the hatred boiled over.  The anti-Nickelback movement gained momentum as more than 55,000 people signed an on-line petition and publicity about the Detroit situation went wild.  What was Nickelback supposed to do?

How about create a viral video on about how much people hate them? The video was released in the middle of last week and instantly became an internet favorite. Even those who are self-professed Nickelback haters had to give the band props for a pretty cool video.

Nickelback did exactly what they needed to do. They acknowledged the hatred. They laughed at it.They mocked it. In the video they came across as funny and human, and relatively hard to hate. By no means will this make the Nickelback haters go away, but it will absolutely score the band points with the millions of fans they already have, and it will probably win over some new fans.  In the process, it gave the band a tremendous amount of publicity for essentially no cost at all.

Meanwhile, Metallica is caught in the headlights after releasing Lulu, an album of collaborative work with the legendary Lou Reed. Critics and fans almost unanimously hate the album. The very-smart Chuck Klosterman wrote a review that read “If the Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustically covered the 12 worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it would still be (slightly) better than this.”  The early sales figures are abysmal…  just 13,000 copies in the US and 6,000 in the UK. Those are the worst first week sales for a Metallica album since Soundscan started keeping track in 1991.

Here’s my free advice to Metallica: Move on, really really quickly. Release a killer Metallica song right away that makes your fans heads explode with pleasure. And by right away, I mean in the next 30 days. Seriously fast. Waste no time and give your core fans a song – or even better, a whole album – that screams Metallica.  You must have something in the vaults that is classic Metallica. Forget about Lulu. Stop defending it. Take the approach Lou Reed did when he said “Who cares? I’m essentially in this for the fun of it.”  Treat Lulu like a vanity project that you never expected anybody to purchase and take seriously.

Or give the boys from Nickelback a call and get some advice on how to make a funny video, like this one.


Metallica, Nickelback 153 Comments

Every Imperfection Is An Opportunity

Perfection is highly over-rated.

That’s today’s message. And I really like today’s post because it links a legendary moment in rock history with a universal business lesson.

A quick shameless plug and funny story first. Brand Like A Rock Star has been showing up on the Amazon bestseller list for both “Marketing” and “Music”. I’m tremendously grateful for the support. If you haven’t bought a copy of the book yet, you are one click away from the paperback and Kindle versions.

If you’re a frequent traveler, look for it in Hudson bookstores in most major US airports. I try to sign copies on the shelves when I pass through airports. Unfortunately this week at O’Hare I attempted to sign a few copies, and the clerk at Hudson didn’t speak much English. I was nearly arrested for signing copies of my own book! Instead of reaching for the “Signed by author” sticker for the book, she was reaching for the security hotline! Crazy.

By the way, if you buy it for Kindle, make sure you ask me to personalize it using Kindlegraph. It is a cool new tool that allows me to personalize and sign digital ebooks. Just click here and make it happen!

Unscripted Magic

Some of the most magical moments in music have been unplanned and unscripted. Mistakes. Imperfections.

Al Kooper is quite possibly the best example. Al was a session musician invited to the recording session for Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”. He was a guitar player, there just to watch and observe. However, as the session progressed he suggested that he had a “great riff” for the song’s organ part in his head. He admitted years later that he didn’t have one… he made that excuse up in order to play on the song. Heck, Al Kooper hardly even knew how to play the Hammond B3 organ!

Kooper sat down at the organ and started to play along, coming in an eighth note behind the band because he wasn’t even sure that he was playing the right chords. That beautiful imperfection became the centerpiece for the song that Rolling Stone magazine ranked #1 on their 500 Greatest Songs Of All-Time. Accidental magic.

In business we try to plan for every contingency, going to great lengths to make everything perfect. But we can learn from Al Kooper that perfection is not only impossible, it is also highly undesirable.

How To Make People Fall In Love With You

We crazy human beings fall in love with other human beings, flaws and insecurities and all. We don’t fall in love with perfection because it doesn’t exist in humanity. Perfection can only exist in inanimate objects, and we don’t (normally) fall in love with inanimate objects. At least not without a lot of follow-up therapy.

Great brands treat imperfections as opportunities, just like Bob Dylan did with Al Kooper’s erratic organ playing.

A customer is unhappy with the product? That’s an opportunity to demonstrate just how far you will go to make them happy, ensuring they are a loyal customer for life.

A recipe didn’t turn out as planned? Maybe you’ve stumbled onto an entirely new dish that could revolutionize your restaurant.

3M’s engineers created a reusable low-tack pressure-based adhesive in 1968, but couldn’t find any use for it until Art Fry, a 3M employee who knew about the invention, used it to place his bookmark in his church hymn book… and Post-It Notes were accidentally and imperfectly born.

Every imperfection is an opportunity.

Sure you should attempt to make your brand as excellent as possible, but smart brands realize that being “excellent” means having the freedom to go off-script from time to time, showing some of those wonderful warts that make companies feel human. Just like Al Kooper did.

Uncategorized 181 Comments

Why New Music Is A Bad Idea


Brand Like A Rock Star continues to get amazing reviewsClick here to get it in paperback or Kindle right away. And don’t forget to download the FREE ebook Musical Companion that serves as a chapter-by-chapter playlist to help you get the most from the book.

This Friday (November 11, 2011) the original and still-legendary line up of Black Sabbath will reunite for a press conference at the LA nightclub Wiskey-A-Go-Go, the same place where they made their North American debut exactly 41 years earlier.

Rumors are circulating that the band will announce that they are reuniting to work on a new album.

I sure hope not. 

Let’s look at the track record of legendary classic rock bands and their newer material.


Quick… how many Rolling Stones songs can you name from the past twenty years? Even for deep Stones fans, there isn’t a lot of newer music in the Rolling Stones catalog that immediately jumps to mind. The Rolling Stones aren’t stupid. They get it. That’s why since 1990 they’ve released six live albums, five compilation albums, and one re-issued album. They will reissue the classic Some Girls on November 21, bringing the total of “old material made new” to 13 albums. In that same window, they’ve only recorded three albums of new material.

The Cars reunited this year for the positively-reviewed but low-selling Move Like This album. Despite being the only new material from the band in 25 years, apparently fans would still rather hear “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Shake It Up”.

The Eagles. Foreigner. ZZ Top. Lynyrd Skynyrd. All have watched their newer albums generate relatively little interest.

It isn’t because their new music isn’t good (some of it is quiet strong). The problem is that the bar is set so high for these legendary bands.

How can The Eagles ever replicate Hotel California? Even if they can replicate it musically, it is impossible to recapture the magic of the era and the impact the song had on people growing up in 1976.

The Stones know that they could never record an album as successful as Some Girls was. So instead, they are wisely rereleasing a new version of the album.

Even U2, continuing to release quality material, are overshadowed by their own incredible legacy.


Thanks to their historic success years ago, these bands have become so known for their classic songs that equally-strong new songs will never have the same impact.

As a business, hopefully you are known for something. Ideally it is something very strong, like the early hits by these classic bands.

Smart brands embrace their reputation.


For a restaurant famous for massive thick hamburgers, the best path to future success is to eliminate the pizza and chicken from the menu. Stop trying to diversify, and instead focus on what people know you for and love you for.

For a contractor well-known for building upscale luxury homes, the best path to future success is to drop any business than isn’t upscale luxury homes. Focus on what people know and love you for.

And for Black Sabbath, famous for classic rock songs like “Iron Man”, “Sweet Leaf”, and “Paranoid”, the best path to profits is to reunite and tour the world playing those same classic songs. A new album will only dilute their legendary status as the pioneers of heavy metal music.

black sabbath, Foreigner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, The Cars, The Eagles, U2, ZZ Top 145 Comments