Goodbye Earl

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The Dixie Chicks have been playing in my head this week as we braced for Hurricane Earl.

You couldn’t turn on CNN or FOX or CBC in Canada without being bombarded with stories about the impending danger, mandatory evacuations, and hurricane preparations.  Then, for about 48 hours, we watched journalists in wet jackets got pelted with pounding rain as they stood bracing against the wind in places like Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

We rode out Hurricane Earl at home today, shortly after it was downgraded to a tropical storm.  It rained hard. It was pretty windy. For some people, the power went out for a few hours.  And then it was over.

Hurricane Earl was a much stronger brand than it was a storm. By giving the storm a name (Earl) and designation (Hurricane), its brand impact was immediately upgraded.  Telling people to brace for 70 mile-an-hour winds and heavy rain is one thing.  Telling them to prepare for Hurricane Earl is another altogether, even if Hurricane Earl was simply 70 mph winds and heavy rain.

Fan clubs like The Deadheads, Parrotheads, and KISS Army became powerful identities.  The Rolling Stones Fan Club never did. Could the name be a difference?  Without those names, the Deadheads, Parrotheads, and KISS Army are just people who like the same band.  When given a name, they become a community… a movement.  Outsiders can recognize them, acknowledge them, and know immediately what they stand for.

Names, phrases, and words are incredibly powerful.  You want your name or your description to tell a story all by itself.

“Hell’s Angels” scares more people than group of bikers does.

“Operation Desert Storm” was far more memorable than the war in the Gulf.

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” was a far more powerful argument than thousands of pages of hard to comprehend DNA evidence.

“Two buck Chuck” rang a bell with people at Trader Joe’s more than Charles Shaw Bargain Priced Premium Wine.

What can you say about your brand that tells a story that sticks?  It could be your name.  It could be your mission statement.  It could be a product you sell.
Never forget the power of a few simple words.

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