Thursday, 1 September 2011

Brand Like Elvis, If You Want a Big Brand


A couple of months ago my son said to me "Dad I am taking my son (my grandson Adam who is 10 years old) to see Elvis. I thought he was talking about a movie, or maybe on a road trip like he and I had done years before to visit "Graceland", Elvis home in Memphis. Yes I was and am an Elvis fan.
But no, he was talking about the "Elvis in Concert" show that was at the Radio City Concert Hall in New York. They put together all of the original musicians and singers, put them in a live show and then put Elvis on a screen in the middle of all of the live music. My first reaction was that it's a bit hokey, but he said that it would be the closest he would ever get to see Elvis, and true to form he said that it was an amazing show and you felt that you were really seeing the "King" live on stage.
Now this show is apparently touring all over the world and was started in order to celebrate 20 years after Elvis died back in 1997, and today is a box office success everywhere the show plays. Just as an aside, the great guitarist James Burton and amazing drummer Ronnie Tutt is in the line up, and it's worth seeing the show just to see these two guys play, they are the best in the business.
The reason that I mention this is that we are looking at a singer who is as popular as ever, 25 years after his death and many of the people who are buying his music were not even born when he died. So there is something special going on here that needs looking at, and I decided to look at what makes the Elvis Brand so special and what gives it it's incredible longevity. And what can we learn from Elvis, that we can apply and help our business.
Like all successful programs I did my due diligence and conducted some market research, and would seem that there were three big things that made the girls swoon, and frankly the guys too, when it came to Elvis.
First and foremost it was about the sound,it was totally different from anything else that teenagers had ever heard before. This was a white guy singing his version of black music and doing a heck of a job with it. It made you jump out of your seat and start dancing with whoever was around you at the time. The words didn't matter, it was all about the sound and the beat of the music. He had a southern drawl, and singing voice that was unmistakeable and all of a sudden when he arrived on the music scene, everyone wanted to look and sound like Elvis.
Second he looked different than any other singer, he died his blonde hair black and greased it back and had sideburns that made him look like the truck driver that he was. His signature lip curl, the high collars and puffed sleeves on his shirts, big belt buckles all separated him from the traditional clean cut image of the Pat Boone's of the time
Third was his attitude, he was the original "Rebel Without a Cause, he was going to do it his way, shake his legs, hips, fight you if he had to, and put his head down and look at girls with his come hither eyes.
So there are three very distinct attributes that got Elvis the attention when he first arrived on the music scene and these are the areas that you can use to grow your brand from where it is to a brand leading brand:
1st: Sound like Elvis: Elvis was totally different from anything else on the music marketplace at the time. The radio was full of Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney (yes George's Aunt), Guy Mitchell et all and Elvis was nothing like these. He was UNIQUE, he was totally different to any other singer on the radio.
So that's the question you have to ask yourself, what is your UNIQUENESS that will separate you from the rest of the competition in the marketplace that you compete in? Being average is simply the price of entry. Find out what is it that will have your target audience view you as something totally different in a sea of sameness!
2nd Look like Elvis: Elvis physically looked like no other singer the world had seen before. He wore a slicked back hair do, black and white shoes, velvet shirts, virtually everything he wore was like nothing any other singer would ever have worn.
Not only did his looks separate him from the pack but it made him far
more obvious in the musical marketplace. And for you, it's the design of your product, your packaging, your marketing communications, is it the very best on the market today? Your products goods or services should look great, feel great, smell great, sound great and use as many of the senses as possible to create an on going communication with your target audience. Spend time, effort and money in this area if you want to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
3rd Get the Elvis Attitude: Yes Elvis had an attitude, an edge that made him different. This attitude was pervasive throughout everything that he did, from the songs to the clothes he wore to the way he just looked at people, it was all orchestrated to ensure that Elvis was unlike any other singer product on the market.
Attitude is the component of the product mix that must exist if you want to differentiate your products, goods or services from the competitive set. For instance Apple has it in spades, it's an irreverent, hot, cool, different attitude that every Apple product purchaser get's. Virgin Airlines and it's founder Sir Richard Branson have it. It's that certain something that makes them different. In the case of Virgin, it's about looking at products in the marketplace where the traditional products have a stranglehold and creating a product that beats the system in every way.
So what are you doing to create an attitude in your business that will differentiate you in your marketplace?
Conclusion on the Elvis Brand:
Elvis had all of the components that go towards making a good singer into a BIG BRAND, and it lasted throughout his career, even during the time he was in the army. Despite a downturn during the "Beatles years" he re-built his image and remade himself over and over, resurfacing in the NBC Comeback Special in 1968 and of course then took it to Las Vegas and around the country for years.
Twenty five years after his death, he is still the "King" and the Elvis Brand is as strong as ever and delivering profits to the company that now owns his name and likenesses, CKX, which is owned by Bob Sillerman. Just for the record he paid $114 million for Elvis Presley Enterprises just two years ago, and that might be a steal!
Here's what in my experience a brand is, see if yours matches up to this 6 part brand statement that I created after 30 years of helping grow brands around the world: 
  1. Uniqueness - are you different to everyone else in your category?
  2. Promise - Do you keep your promises to your customers?
  3. Value - Are you delivering Value, above and beyond the industry norm?
  4. Expectation - Is your product what the target audience expects, or is it even better?
  5. Mind - Does your brand have a piece of your customers mind.
"A unique promise of value that causes an expectation in the minds of the consumer"
Jack Sims
Copyright Jack Sims 2011
Jack Sims has literally "been there, done that". He founded one of the top five creative groups in his native England and then he did it all over again in right here at home in the United States. His marketing agency became the #1 ranked in America. Now as an author and consultant Jack speaks for companies and associations who are looking to strengthen their brand and grow their business. Jack's meeting presentations and keynote speeches are high energy and loaded with information that he has proven to work in the real business world. You will laugh at his stories, be excited by his delivery, but most importantly you will walk away with information that will help you go for serious long-term business growth. He was voted as one of the "Best Keynote Speakers" by the meeting planner readers of "Meetings and Conventions Magazine".

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