Be Careful Where You Advertise


Live From New York…


As I wander Times Square, surrounded by some of the most iconic advertising in America (and maybe the world), I wonder if any of it really even works?

And then it hits me that the more relevant question isn’t whether any individual piece of advertising in Times Square actually works, but rather what advertising in a place like Times Square says about a brand.

The massive Diet Coke ad might not inspire anyone to pick up a can of soda, but by placing a huge ad in Times Square Coca-Cola is clearly making a statement about their brand.

The same applies locally.

Your ad’s content is vital. But so is an awareness of the environment in which you place your advertising.

If you run radio ads during the Rush Limbaugh Show, you implicitly associate yourself with his views… for better or worse. When your print ads end up in the gardening section of the Sunday paper, a message about your brand is communicated. Same thing when your billboard goes up next to a strip club.

It isn’t enough to be aware of the impact of your advertising message. You need to also have a keen awareness of what message is being sent by where your advertising is being seen and heard.

* if the above video didn’t play, you can watch the video blog entry on YouTube here.

What real world rock stars are saying about Brand Like A Rock Star:

“Steve Jones knows a thing or two. Listen and take notes.” – Gene Simmons of KISS

“Everybody has something to sell… whether it be a product or a personality.  What can you do to make your brand more famous?  More mysterious?  More NOTORIOUS?  Steve Jones’ book Brand Like A Rock Star gives you the insight of a Rock N Roll veteran.  Read it, and your brand just might go from Milk Toast to Tiger’s Blood.” – Legendary rock star Alice Cooper

Click here to order your copy now in paperback or Kindle with just a few clicks from Amazon.


Diet Coke, New York, TImes Square 197 Comments

Just Feel Something: Why You Need To Build A Brand People Hate


A few weeks ago I wrote about Ted Nugent’s wild right-wing views. Today, a similar story about a musician from the left side of politics.

This week the eclectic Randy Newman released a new song called “I’m Dreaming of A White President”.  Like many of his songs, it is satirical and mocks the right-leaning nature of the Republican party.

Some people won’t like it. Some people didn’t like his famous song “Short People” either.

And some people will boycott Randy Newman’s music because he is an Obama supporter.

That’s perfectly fine.

Randy Newman isn’t out to win everyone over… he’s out to win over his own fans in a big way. Just like Ted Nugent is, over on the other side of the political spectrum.

The point those of us in business can take away from Ted and Randy is simple: stand for something!!!

I love how Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx put it.

“If you want to hate me, I’m okay with it. Just f*cking feel something.”

Nikki Sixx gets it.

Sir Isaac Newton got it.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Let’s apply Newton’s 3rd law to business.

If you have 10,000 people who love your business, what is the equal and opposite reaction?

There should be 10,000 people who don’t like your business.

The problem most brands face is trying to please everyone. We are afraid to be disliked.

Well, I’ve never heard of a brand, company, product, or business that everybody likes. Even Apple, while selling millions of iPhone5′s this week, has people who passionately hate them.

If nobody hates your brand, there’s a very good chance that nobody loves it either. That’s a scary proposition.

Some free downloads for you to keep & share:

“15 Ways To Make Your Marketing Rock” is a webinar I did last week, and you can download and watch it here. It is about 20 minutes long.

“The Musical Companion” is a 102 page ebook that is designed to deepen your enjoyment of Brand Like A Rock Star”. It is also a free download.

And you can dive into Brand Like A Rock Star at no charge by downloading a pdf of chapter one absolutely free. It is all about brand consistency, and profiles the amazing career of AC/DC.

And don’t forget to order your copy of Brand Like A Rock Star in paperback or Kindle direct from Amazon. Both Gene Simmons and Alice Cooper endorsed it! And best-selling author Mike Michalowicz wrote an awesome review of it.

 Subscribe to Brand Like A Rock Star by Email

Apple, Nikki Sixx, Randy Newman, Ted Nugent 368 Comments

Green Day’s Brilliant Brand


Developing story: Following the publishing of this post, Billie Joe Armstrong apparently entered rehab. While that doesn’t change my point, I do wish him nothing but the absolute best in his battle against addiction. I still believe that his actions were a smart way to reinforce his band’s image. Hopefully as a sober performer, he will retain the same vitriol towards authority.

You’re a veteran punk rock band, hired by one of America’s biggest media corporations to play their music festival. Then, just before you are set to go on stage, you find out that your 45 minute set has been cut to 25 minutes in order to allow another act, Usher, more time on stage

What would you do?

In a rare and refreshing show of modern rock ‘n’ roll swagger, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong brought back images of the Sex Pistols, The Who in their heyday, and The Clash. As the stage clock showed one minute left in their set, Billie Joe abruptly stopped playing and unleashed a profanity filled tirade toward the organizers of the event, capping it off by smashing his guitar, flipping his middle finger, and walking off the stage.

How awesome to see a brand (Green Day) that so clearly understands its values and so brilliantly seizes an opportunity to showcase them in a way that gets them massive coverage… at a time when they are about to release three back-to-back-to-back new albums within a few months of each other.

When your brand’s image is anti-authoritarian, rebellious, and destructive, you should be exactly that.

If Taylor Swift had learned her set was being cut short, she would have been much wiser to take her frustrations out through her management team in a private meeting with the concert organizers. It isn’t in Taylor’s girl-next-door image to act like an assh*le.

But it is perfectly in line with Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day’s image to rise up against authority, fight for their cause, and take no bullsh*t from anyone.

Those who boycott Green Day because of this would probably never buy their albums or concert tickets anyway.

And those who love Green Day because of what they stand for now have another reason to love them even more.


The take-away?

When you are known for a certain set of values, never be afraid to stand up and represent those values in a very bold and public way.

Know and understand your image, and seize every opportunity to further enhance and showcase that image.

You can enjoy Billie Joe Armstrong’s intensity in the video below, but be warned that the language is raw and NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

And to order your copy of Brand Like A Rock Star (including a chapter about the Sex Pistols and punk rock), click here to buy it from Amazon with one click, in either paperback or Kindle.

Green Day, Sex Pistols, Taylor Swift, The Who 5,644 Comments

The Rock Star Branding Postcast – Episode #33 – Branding Essentials For New Artists Pt.2

In this weekly series of podcasts, I am joined by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson to explore ways up-and-coming musicians and bands can use the Rock Star Branding concepts to further their careers. This week’s topic: Branding Essentials For New Artists.

Click here to listen to this week’s Rock Star Branding Podcast.


rock star branding podcast 155 Comments

Steal Like Bob Dylan

Photo courtesy user catalin82

Bob Dylan is guilty of stealing.


He admits to having borrowed lines from Civil War poet Henry Timrod and turned them into songs. He’s adapted phrases from first-century Roman poet Ovid in his music. He has created new songs from traditional blues numbers and folk classics.

Critics have come down on Dylan for plagiarism, but they’re dead wrong.

Dylan isn’t a thief, he is an artist. Artists steal.


Author Austin Kleon wrote an awesome book called Steal Like An Artist. It’s a great read that will be a kick in your creative ass. Kleon suggests that nothing is really new, and everything is in some way borrowed from the past. The secret is to know how to steal like an artist. Take what has influenced you, what has been said before, what has inspired you, and what has formed your views, and expand on them. Take them to a new place. Evolve them.

Kleon presents stealing as a sort of flow chart. You steal from dozens of different places, morphing what you’ve stolen, combining various elements, and in the end you create something wonderfully unique and important.

Stealing isn’t easy.

Here’s what Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone magazine about the charges that he’s plagiarized the work of others (and warning, these comments contain profanity).

“Quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It’s true for everybody, but me. There are different rules for me. And as far as Henry Timrod is concerned, have you even heard of him? Who’s been reading him lately? And who’s pushed him to the forefront? Who’s been making you read him? And ask his descendants what they think of the hoopla. And if you think it’s so easy to quote him and it can help your work, do it yourself and see how far you can get. Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff. It’s an old thing – it’s part of the tradition. It goes way back. These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you’ve been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherfuckers can rot in hell.”

When you read my book, Brand Like A Rock Star, know that you are reading Seth Godin, Roy H. Williams, Ries & Trout, Malcolm Gladwell, and many many others. My head is filled with amazing and crazy concepts put forth by great thinkers. As an artist, all I can do is create new work derived from the crazy thoughts that fill my head.

The thief takes the ideas, thoughts, concepts, and innovations of others and presents them as his own.

The artist takes the ideas, thoughts, concepts, and innovations of others and builds greater things upon and from them.


Bob Dylan 464 Comments

Today I’m Gonna Try And Change The World

The marketing book Brand Like A Rock Star is one click away. Click here and order now in paperback or Kindle.

Don’t miss the free marketing webinar “15 Ways To Make Your Marketing Rock In 15 Minutes” coming up on Wednesday, September 19 at 2pm ET. Space is limited. Get more details and register now by clicking here.

It’s Monday. To paraphrase Scottish-born Canadian singer/songwriter Johnny Reid, today I’m gonna try and change the world.

Sound daunting?

It isn’t.

When you do your job with passion and purpose, you change the world. You probably don’t know even know you’re doing it.

A few weeks ago, a United Airlines agent changed our world. My family was booked on a short vacation to Hawaii. I had been invited to speak at a Wednesday afternoon luncheon, so we booked a Sunday to Friday getaway around it. It was a seriously long way to travel (nearly 20 hours from the east coast!) for such as short trip, but our kids are teenagers and growing up too fast… and we thought it would be crazy to let a chance to spend time with our kids in Hawaii go by. So we booked it.

On the morning we were to leave, bad weather and bad luck conspired to cancel our flight. We were automatically rebooked for Wednesday… three days later! That meant our already short Hawaiian vacation would be a two day trip, and there is no point in flying 20 hours for a two day vacation. The United agent I spoke to wasn’t terribly helpful, and simply told us that there was nothing more they could do. We could take it, or leave it and get our money back.

After breaking the bad news to our kids, I called United back to cancel our family’s trip. I would go to Hawaii alone and treat the trip as pure business. There would be no family vacation.

This time a different United agent answer the phone. Her name was Simone, and her first reaction was refreshing.

“Why on earth are you canceling a family vacation to Hawaii?” she asked. I explained our situation and the lack of options presented to us by United.

“Well, that can’t happen,” she said. “There has got to be a way we can get you there. We are not canceling this trip!”

That was Simone’s attitude from the get-go. And 30 minutes later our vacation was saved. We would arrive in Hawaii later than planned, but we would only lose 24 hours of our vacation.

Because one single employee at United Airlines did her job with passion and purpose, a family grew closer. Our kids learned to surf. We savored Matsumoto’s shave ice and ate at Giovanni’s shrimp truck. We dined at Duke’s and watched the sunset from Rum Fire. We saw the sun come up over Diamond Head. We laughed and relaxed and appreciated the valuable family time together. It was a great trip.

From where I sit, Simone changed the world.

Her decision to do her job with passion and purpose gave us that priceless trip.

It’s Monday. What world will you change today?

Photo credits: top photo from user Storm11080, photo below by Steve Jones.

My two boys take their first surfing lesson on the beach in Haleiwa, HA



Hawaii, Johnny Reid, United Airlines 107 Comments

15 Ways To Make Your Marketing Rock In 15 Minutes

Does your marketing rock?

Without successful marketing, your odds of staying in business are low. At best.

In today’s hyper-competitive business world, you need marketing that rocks to have any hope of winning.

Marketing – done right – leads directly to profits.

On the other hand, average marketing leads directly to average results.

Can you afford to be average?

Join me on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 2pm ET for a free webinar called “15 Ways To Make Your Marketing Rock In 15 Minutes”.  You’ll walk away with 15 actionable marketing secrets that will change the way you think about, create, and book your next advertising campaign. In this fast-paced webinar, you’ll learn:

* A cold, harsh and painful reality that you need to understand before you market your business.

* What your customers are really buying (and it isn’t your product).

* How to turn your business’ weaknesses into strengths.

* What time you of year you need to be advertising in order to achieve maximum results.

Register now for this FREE webinar here:

WARNING: Although I promise 15 ideas in 15 minutes, there are good odds that the webinar will go slightly longer and you may well come away with more than 15 ideas. Please set aside 30 minutes for this webinar.

The concepts we will discuss are based on the marketing book Brand Like A Rock Star: Lessons From Rock ‘n’ Roll To Make Your Business Rich And Famous by Steve Jones. You can order your copy on Kindle or in paperback right now by clicking here.

Brand Like A Rock Star on the shelf in Las Vegas, next to one of my favorite books by Malcolm Gladwell.

Brand Like A Rock Star, webinar 161 Comments

The Rock Star Branding Podcast Episode #30: Live Lesssons From Bruce Springsteen



Episode #30: The Rock Star Branding Podcast


Live Performance Lessons from Bruce Springsteen


Join Brian Thompson, Michael Brandvold & Steve Jones for a 15 min. round table discussion on live performance lessons from Bruce Springsteen.


We dive into some real actionable advice that any band can apply to their career. Click play and listen to some of the Do’s and Don’ts we’ve gleaned from one of the music industry’s most revered live showmen.
Available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and:





Click here to listen to episode #30, “Live Lessons From Bruce Springsteen”.

rock star branding podcast 121 Comments

How To Win Customers For Life


Click here to instantly order your copy of Brand Like A Rock Star in paperback or Kindle right now, and start making your brand stronger and more profitable using the core marketing strategies of bands like AC/DC, U2, Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffett, Lady Gaga, and Bob Marley.

A few weeks ago, at a concert in New Orleans, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters does what he does every night. He wins over fans one at a time.

You see, there was a fan at the show who had a problem. Halfway through the concert, his beer was empty. You can’t give up a spot in the front row to shove your way back to the beer vendors, so this fan was stuck beerless.

Dave, seeing this, took action. Between songs, as thousands of fans cheered him on, Dave Grohl took a beer from his personal stash on the stage, reached into the audience, and refilled the guys beer!

Not only did Dave make a fan-for-life out of that thirsty dude, but he gave a stadium full of people a “did you see that?” moment to tell their friends about. Twitter and Facebook went wild with posts about Dave Grohl refilling a fan’s beer.

Three key lessons in gaining customers-for-life from Dave Grohl:

1. Be real. When you are real, people connect with you. Be human. Be a friend. Friends refill friends beers. What do you do, in business, that turns your company into a friend? What is your company’s equivalent of filling up a fan’s empty glass of beer?

2. Be remarkable. If you want people to talk about your company, do something that they will want to share with others. Dave did something remarkable, and people remarked. So if you want similar word-of-mouth exposure, do something remarkable too. Don’t be unremarkable and expect people to talk about you.

3. Be generous. You have to give to get. Dave Grohl gave up a beer (small price) and stage time (possibly a larger price) in order to get a fan-for-life and worldwide media attention. Smart businesses today give something, like advice or knowledge or guidance, in order to win fans-for-life. Know what you have to give, and give it.

Notice that all three of these points contradict with traditional business practice.

“Be real? Forget it. Our company must project a perfect and flawless image. Don’t you know that Dave Grohl could have been sued if that fan was under 21 or if that fan got drunk at the show and killed someone driving home?”

“Be remarkable? We sell quality chairs at quality prices, and we won’t be undersold. Isn’t that remarkable?”

“Be generous. Hah! Do you know how much a quality chair costs these days? I’m not cutting into profit margins so that some classroom in Haiti has new chairs.”

Funny, but sad and true. I encounter that kind of thinking all the time.

Be real, be remarkable, and be generous. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you do.


If you’re a believer, please take a second to share this post with like-minded friends in business, marketing, advertising, and branding.

Connect with me on Facebook or let’s talk on Twitter. I’d love to connect and explore the relationship between rock ‘n’ roll and building legendary brands.

Foo Fighters 1,817 Comments