What Home Builders Can Learn From Coca-Cola

A few years ago, my wife and I were thinking about building a new home. We spoke to a number of builders in our community, and after a few meetings something started to become clear… any one of the builders would build us pretty much anything we wanted.

Sure, there were a few specialists, but those ones were only on the high end building expensive luxury homes.

Rock stars specialize… so why don’t more businesses?

Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t record acoustic ballads. John Mayer doesn’t bite heads off bats. Each of them does their thing, and does it very, very well.

Rock star brands specialize as well.

Consider the case of Coca-Cola. I think we can agree that Coke is a reasonably successful brand, right?

Coke makes Coke and Diet Coke, along with variations like Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke. Frankly, they probably make too many variations for their own good, but that’s a post for another day.

Coke makes hundreds of other drinks, but they aren’t called Coke.

Coke also makes water. They call it Dasani.

Coke also makes a sports drink.  It’s Powerade.

Coke even makes mixers for alcholic drinks. They are the makers of Baccardi Mixers like mojito, pina colada, and daquiri.

Coca-Cola makes over 3,500 products in over 200 countries, but there’s only one Coke.

How can we apply this to home builders?

If you really can build any home for any one, then create several independent home building companies that share back-office functions.

One division specializes in custom-built luxury homes.

Another division focuses on the everyday homes from plans.

Yet another division builds entry-level homes with attractive price points.

And another builds cottages and recreational homes.

You see where this is going.

You can apply the same lesson to nearly any business.

If you want to make your business famous for something, choose ONE thing and do it really, really well. And if you want to do something else, start a new business that does that new thing very, very well.

Focus is essential to business. And focus is a big part of the book Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich And Famous. The book is on sale at on-line and in-store retail locations everywhere, and you can order it instantly right now in digital download or paperback.

Coke, John Mayer, Ozzy Osbourne 202 Comments

National Margarita Day: A PR Lesson From Jimmy Buffett

On February 22, the world will celebrate National Margarita Day.

And where will they celebrate?

Margaritaville, of course, a the network of restaurants owned by musician Jimmy Buffett, with locations across North America and the Caribbean.

National Margarita Day isn’t a Hallmark holiday. It is a Jimmy Buffett holiday. The brains behind the Buffett brand have wisely taken over the day and used it for three years as a massive public relations stunt. How much free press will Margaritaville grab thanks to National Margarita Day? I’m certain the value is in the millions.

The day to day news cycle presents countless opportunities to use to your advantage.

Using Google Alerts, you can constantly be monitoring the internet for mentions of your product, competitors, category, or business.

Before these stories become major news, you can “newsjack” your brand into the equation.

Here are four ways in which the current news cycle could be used to a business’ PR advantage:

1. ”The Grey” is the #1 movie this week.  The storyline follows a group of oil workers who survive a plane crash in Alaska, only to be hunted down by a pack of wolves. A smart tourism outfitter in the Alaskan wilderness could use this opportunity to protest how wolves are portrayed in the movie, and organize a boycott of the movie. Certainly that would get some attention in the media.

2. Nine people have died in car accidents in Florida this week because of reduced visbility due to smoke from brush fires. If you owned an auto repair shop in Florida, this would be an excellent time to issue a press release about the lack of care people put into their headlights. You would be able to become the go-to person to comment on the fact that with regular cleaning, adjusting, and upgrading of headlights, roads could be significantly safer.

3. A friend of mine has recently launched a line of vending machines that dispense only healthy food. He’s been actively using the news cycle to target emerging news stories about obesity and related health issues. As these stories emerge, he engages journalists, bloggers, and others so that they turn to him for comment. He’s positioning hismself as an expert in making schools and workplaces healthier.

4. Last Christmas during my visit to the Cayman Islands, I was discussing the island’s marketing campaign with a friend. If I were advising the Cayman Islands government, I would suggest that they use the violence in Mexico and Jamaica to their newsjacking advantage. Every time a tourist is attacked in Mexico or Jamaica, the Cayman Islands tourism department should issue a press release about what steps they have successfully taken to ensure that not a single tourist is harmed in their country. They could offer to share their knowledge and experience with more violent tourism destinations.

Author David Meerman Scott has a new book out called Newsjacking, and it goes much deeper into the idea of using the news cycle to generate PR.  You can read more about the book, and the newsjacking techniques that David used to launch it, on his blog here.

And you can order Brand Like A Rock Star, featuring an entire chapter on this concept, right here.

Photo: taken by Steve Jones in West Bay, Cayman Islands. Moments after taking this picture, the photographer poured himself a margarita.

David Meerman Scott, Jimmy Buffett 7,002 Comments

The Rock Star Branding Podcast: Episode #1 – Lessons From AC/DC: Meeting Your Fan’s Expectations


This is episode #1 of a new podcast series presented by The Music Biz Weekly. “The Rock Star Branding Podcast” uses the book Brand Like A Rock Star as inspiration for a series of discussions to help new and emerging bands establish themselves using the lessons of rock legends.

The podcast is hosted by Michael Brandvold, Brian Thompson, and Steve Jones.

Michael was the driving force behind the online presence of KISS and numerous other artists. He owns Michael Brandvold Marketing and works with musicians and businesses to build stronger connections to their fans and customers.

Brian Thompson is the man behind Thorny Bleeder Records and in addition to artist management and consulting, he has a great track record helping artists develop social media strategies.

And if you’re reading this, I assume you know a little bit about me. I’m Steve Jones, author of Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich And Famous.

The Rock Star Branding Podcast 1 by Brand Like a Rock Star

AC/DC, Brian Thompson, Michael Brandvold, rock star branding podcast 169 Comments

Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down


Lennon had McCartney.

Jagger has Richards.

Kanye has Jay Z.

Who in your world makes you noticably better?

There are two kinds of people in the world. A good friend of mine calls them “keys” and “locks”. “Keys” are people who open doors for you and in you. They make what you do better. “Locks” attempt to shut you down. They don’t get it.

Rock stars find collaborators who are “keys”.

If you want your business to be successful, you need to do the same thing.

One thing rock stars are famous for, and hip hop stars even more famous for, is their entourage. Rock stars surround themselves with people who enrich their lives. They eliminate people who don’t. The result is an environment where great things happen. Legendary songs are written. Magic happens.

Certainly business success isn’t as simple as just surrounding yourself with good people, but I can guarantee that it will be a hell of a lot harder to build a winning brand if you surround yourself with nay-sayers, negativity, and pessimists.

“Locks” are out there. They are inevitable. You need to deal with them swiftly and decisively. Get rid of them. If you can’t get rid of them completely, illegitimi non carborundum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.


Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rolling Stones, The Beatles 745 Comments

Timing Is Everything: What Your Business Can Learn From Bruce Springsteen


Some people have a knack for comedic timing. You know those people who know not just what to say, but precisely when to say it.

Bruce Springsteen has that knack when it comes to singing. He knows not just what song to sing, but exactly when to sing it.

Think about it. In 1984, when “greed is good” ruled and the possibilities were limitless, Bruce reminded a generation that amidst all of that prosperity, some people were getting left behind. In Born In The USA Bruce told us the story of a returning Vietnam veteran, coming home to a country turning its back on him, refusing to acknowledge the mess of an ugly war.

In the months after September 11, 2011, he gave us the gift of The Rising. No piece of music so perfectly captured our collective heartbeat the way Bruce did when he painfully sang about climbing the stairs of a burning World Trade Center from the point of view of an innocent New York firefighter just doing his job.

Today, with a fractured political landscape and a teetering economy that scares the sh*t out of us on a daily basis, Bruce hands us a wonderful new song called We Take Care Of Our Own (click on the link to listen). With shades of Born In The USA, Bruce reminds us to look out for those around us, from “Chicago to New Orleans… from the shotgun shack to the Superdome… wherever this flag is flown, we take of our own.”

Why is a Springsteen-like sense of timing important for your business?  

I don’t know. Maybe you should ask the cruise lines that placed these ads. 

Bruce Springsteen, Costa Concordia 190 Comments

The Backstage Ass: Winning Customers With Kindness


Today you have the chance to win new customers for your brand.

Not through spending more on marketing than your competitors.

Not by dropping prices lower than anyone else’s.

You have the chance to win new customers today… simply by being kind.


Have you ever been backstage at a rock concert? I’ve been there countless times in my nearly 30-years in the music industry, and I can tell you that the backstage meet-and-greet isn’t always what people expect. Far too often the rock star you’ve been wanting to meet forever turns out to be a pompous jerk. Sometimes however, they are far nicer, kinder, and more real than you imagined possible.

I won’t name names, but I’ve been treated like crap backstage before, and I’ve seen stars treat fans poorly.  When the band shows up to meet the dozen or so “lucky” backstage pass holders, the band clearly has zero interest in being there. Nobody is outright rude, but they simply don’t care. They are indifferent towards you, and you can tell. You are made to feel like an idiot for waiting for hours for the chance to meet such a jackass.

On the other hand, I’ve been treated to some backstage experiences that gave me an entirely new appreciation for the artist. Watching Taylor Swift make true eye contact with her fans, even the 10 year-old girls, was impressive. The way she engaged in short but meaningful conversations with every fan was amazing. Taylor was masterful at giving her fans the impression that nothing mattered at that moment more then they did. She earned the respect of every young fan, as well as hundreds of moms and dads who saw their children treated with immense respect. This girl worked magic.

You see, when fans walk backstage they are in awe. They feel like they are not worthy of being in the presence of their idols. So when their idols treat them that way, it stings a little. But in some strange way, they seem to expect it. After all, they aren’t really worthy anyway.

But when your idol makes you feel like an equal, the pleasure is magnified tenfold simply because you don’t expect it. You feel as important as they are. You are walking on air.

It’s Your Choice

Today you’ll have the chance to be Taylor Swift. You can engage your customers in a meaningful way, and leave them with the feeling that they truly matter.

Or you can be the indifferent rock star who has better things to be doing.

Your call. You can have a backstage pass or be a backstage ass.


Taylor Swift 129 Comments

Tim Tebow: The Nickelback of Football


Everyone apparently hates him, yet millions absolutely love him.

He is openly mocked, yet his jersey is the fastest-selling thread in football.

Love him or hate him, you can’t help but hear about him everywhere you go.

Tim Tebow is the Nickelback of football.

Tebow’s track record of leading his Denver Broncos to miraculous comeback victories has turned his last name into a verb. The Urban Dictionary defines “Tebow” as “being awful at something for a majority of the time that you are doing it and then somehow pulling yourself together in the last moments to secure victory.

When your name becomes a verb, you are a brand.  Think about that while you “FedEx” a package, play “Frisbee”, enjoy a “Jacuzzi”, or “TiVo” your favorite show.

You gain that kind of brand-as-verb status by representing something very distinct and powerful. You don’t get there by trying to be everything to everyone. You accept that in order to gain that kind of notoriety, you’ll piss a few people off along the way… some people won’t like you.

Tim Tebow is very public about his Christian beliefs. Those beliefs, along with his post-scoring one-knee prayer celebration, have polarized sports fans into two camps -  love Tim Tebow or hate Tim Tebow. There isn’t any room in the middle.

You don’t have to love him to see how he has used his beliefs, his rituals, and his high-profile come-from-behind wins to build himself into a brand.

Personally I’m not a fan of Tebow’s habit of overtly displaying his faith in his sport. I think it’s tacky. But I would be crazy to think I couldn’t learn a thing or two about branding from him.


NFL, Nickelback 695 Comments

What Will You Give Away Today?


The Grateful Dead invited fans to tape their concerts. It was unheard in the music industry at the time, and still today is considered a crime. But they did it anyway. In fact, they created special areas for “tapers” to get the best audio, often directly from the sound board.

They asked but one simple thing in return: don’t sell the recordings for money. Share them with your friends, distribute them for free, but don’t make any profit from it. How did that work out for them? Well, they went on to become one of rock’s most profitable touring acts. And they did it without the benefit of hit songs being played on the radio.

The Grateful Dead gave away their music, and in the process built one of the largest, most passionte, and most dedicated fan bases in music history.

What will you give away today?

You could give away your advice. Your expertise could change someone’s life today.

You could give away your honesty. Maybe your customer is better off buying the competitor’s product.

You could give away some product. After all, a free sample is an invitation to try some more.

You could give away your time. Your money. Your kindness. Your consideration. Your thoughts.

Go ahead and give something away. Ask nothing in return. Expect nothing in return. Be patient… and your returns will come, eventually.

Like The Beatles sang, “and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make“.

I’d like to give you Chapter One of my book Brand Like A Rock Star absolutely free. You can download it here.

I’d also like to give you a book called Brand Like A Rock Star: The Musical Companion. Yes, it’s also free. You can download it here. It is the #1 most downloaded product management book in the Amazon Kindle store.

If you’d like to take the leap and buy the book, go for it. You can have it paperback or digital download here. It isn’t free, but at $14.95 in paperback and $9.99 in digital download, it’s damn close.



Grateful Dead, The Beatles 124 Comments

Remarkable Brands and Remarkable Stories



In just a few short years, it has become a New Year’s Day tradition. Hockey fans and non-fans alike settle in to watch two NHL teams play hockey the old-fashioned way… outdoors. The NHL “Winter Classic” game regularly draws the highest TV ratings of the year and packs thousands of fans into massive football and baseball stadiums to take in the game. The Winter Classic is a brilliant example of how a great brand is built.


It is a great story.

Great stories have strong characters, and the Winter Classic gives us those. Through the HBO “24/7″ series leading up the Winter Classic, lead characters take shape. Last year it was Washington coach Bruce Boudreau and his love of the F word. This year it is Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and his unique take on the universe.

Great stories have drama, and the Winter Classic gives us plenty of that. Weather is a wildcard. It could be bone-chilling cold like Edmonton in 2003, or it could be delayed by rain, as it was in 2011 in Pittsburgh.

Great stories have conflict, resolution, and an outcome, and the NHL Winter Classic does all that every year.

Remarkable brands are built around remarkable stories.

What remarkable thing does your brand do, and how do you tell your story?

Storytelling an integral part of building a brand, and Brand Like A Rock Star can help you find your story and your voice. Order the book now in paperback or digital download at

Uncategorized 155 Comments