Putting Ice On The Ice Bucket Challenge


This was the summer of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Every summer music expert Sean Ross declares one song as THE song of the summer. This year he named the ice bucket challenge as the song of the summer… even though it isn’t actually a song.

The ALS Association did a fantastic job of riding this wave of awareness and financial support. Last summer they raised $2.7 million in funding. This year they have already raised over $100 million! That money, along with increased awareness of this terrible disease, will hopefully go a long way towards finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

For the past few months, people have been feeling very positive about ALS, and that can only help in the future.

Unless the ALS Association were to do something to completely deflate all of the goodwill.

Like take legal action to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”.

Well done, ALS Association. You’ve managed to turn mountains of positivity and goodwill into rubble.

The ALS Association says they want to prevent unscrupulous groups from co-opting the Ice Bucket Challenge into their own fundraiser.

Think about this… so far this summer people have donated more than $100 million for the right to pour ice water over their heads in the name of ALS. Nobody is going to steal the Ice Bucket Challenge from the ALS Association. It simply isn’t possible.

Nobody is going to steal pink ribbons from National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can try make pink ribbons mean something to your cause, but it will never work. Pink ribbons equal breast cancer.

Yet pink ribbons remain in the public domain.

The Ice Bucket Challenge will always belong to the ALS Association. Putting lawyers on the case doesn’t make it belong to the ALS Association even more. It might legally define ownership, but it doesn’t define mental and emotional ownership.

When Bob Dylan heard Jimi Hendrix perform his song “All Along The Watchtower”, he instantly realized that Jimi owned the song. 

“it overwhelmed me, really. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day”

In other words, Bob Dylan performs “All Along The Watchtower” in Hendrix style because Hendrix owns the song in our minds.

The same thing happened with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails heard Johnny Cash do a version of his song “Hurt”.

“I felt like I had just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.”

Mental ownership of a song or a concept like the Ice Bucket Challenge happens when we emotionally bond with something and we develop a permanent association with it.

And when someone tries to interfere with those emotional bonds, nothing good can come of it.

The ALS Association should tell the lawyers to go home, and let people give money for the love of giving, laughing, and shivering.

Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash 111 Comments

Death By Indifference

“I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all”

That was the premise of last week’s post, inspired by a lyric from the Three Days Grace song “Pain”. Human beings crave emotional connections, and only brands that successfully inspire us to feel something have a chance to earn our loyalty and love.

The song “Stubborn Love” by Lumineers contains a similar lyric, followed by an equally powerful line.

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. The opposite of love is indifference”

Indifference is the death of countless businesses.

“Hate” isn’t a bad thing. It is the natural polar to “love”. So it stands to reason that if you’ve created a brand that some people love, there will naturally be some people who hate it too.

That’s fine.

Kiss has sold over 100 million albums. They have an “army” of fans. Know anyone who hates Kiss? Of course.

When Kiss came out, teachers, parents, police, and clergy hated Kiss and their devil-worshipping ways. Yet they sold over 100 million albums because they knew that the opposite of love was indifference. They wiped out indifference. You could not know about Kiss.

To this day Gene Simmons manages to make a high-profile publicity stunt out of his every move.

When you’re building your rock star brand, build it for one group of people: those who will absolutely love what you do.

When people tell you that they hate you, smile and nod. Be proud.

Accept that those people are a natural by-product of creating something that other people love.

If you cave in to the opinions of those who hate you, you’ll likely water down what you do to the point that those who love you will stop loving you.

And then what are you left with?


Click here to wipe out indifference and build a brand that rocks, based on the strategies of rock legends. Order Start You Up and Brand Like a Rock Star now with just one click.

Gene Simmons, KISS, KISS Army, Lumineers 2,237 Comments

It’s Better To Feel Pain


I have a friend who fights a lot with his wife. Whenever things are calm, they find a way to scrap.

I mentioned to my wife once that this couple would rather have a fight going on than to have nothing going on.

As the song by Three Days Grace goes, “I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all“.

We human beings crave emotional connections, and most of our brand loyalty decisions are based on emotions… not common sense.

We choose to purchase things that makes us feel a certain way.

Your heart makes the buying decision.

Your brain simply justifies what the heart tell it to.

Think about the average Harley-Davidson buyer. He’s in his late-40s. He makes approximately $100,000 a year. He isn’t buying a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy so he can join the Hell’s Angels. In reality, he is buying a $25,000 motorcycle because it makes him feel young, rebellious, and powerful. His brain justifies with logical information about quality, American-made, resale value, speed, and whatever else.

What does your brand make people feel?

I don’t care about the price, your location, or your free parking.

I care only about how you make me feel.

If you make me feel something - anything – I am no longer indifferent about your brand.

Emotions are the avenues that take consumers from unaware and indifferent to aware and opinionated.

Consumers who are aware and opinionated are vital, even if they don’t like you.

Why? We’ll explore that in another post.


Pick up your copy of Brand Like a Rock Star to learn how to take your customers from unaware to aware, from indifferent to opinionated. You can download or order it with one click right here.


Three Days Grace 202 Comments

Remember When Paul McCartney Wasn’t Cool?

A guest post by Sean Ross, author of Ross on Radio and one of the music and radio industry’s most respect music analysts and observers.


Remember when Paul McCartney wasn’t cool?

For years after the Beatles went separate ways, McCartney was a consistent hitmaker, but hit-and-miss artistically. John Lennon’s “Muzak to my ears” comment resonated, especially after “My Love” and “Silly Love Songs.” Then the new songs became true throwaways. Remember “Spies Like Us”?

With another successful tour underway, McCartney’s stock is definitely higher these days. Here are a few reasons why:

We know more about which songs McCartney contributed, and how the Beatles’ most enduring output – especially the later songs — turned out to be more driven by McCartney songs than initially realized.

Some of his silly love songs of the mid-‘70s are forgotten, but “Maybe I’m Amazed” has become a standard. As important, McCartney gave us a lot of all-ages party anthems, from “Live And Let Die” to “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” a seeming trifle that has emerged as one of the most crowd-pleasing Beatles songs.

There’s also more care given to the new music now. New listeners choosing a song from the “eternal jukebox” of hits aren’t so concerned with an artist’s current output anyway. But for those who cared, “New” was a quality album, and collaborators like Dave Grohl keep McCartney’s new music from being only a throwback.

And he gets out there and “asks for the order,” now with surprising regularity. I’d never seen McCartney live before last summer. But there was nothing perfunctory or “oldies tour” about it. Or the breadth of the publicity push for “New.”

I made this observation to a friend recently whose response was, “Really? I always liked him.” I would say the critical brickbats didn’t endure like the songs did. But maybe they just never registered. Or perhaps being a Beatle just gives you enduring cool that no critic can wear off.


Paul McCartney 169 Comments