Last week Terry McBride dropped by for a little chat at the agency. Terry is the founder of Nettwerk Records, possibly the most innovative music label in the worldpresently representing some major (Avril Lavigne) and minor (Brand New) artists who are changing the way musicians sell their art and relate to audiences. As music artists are brands he gave us lots to think about. It is greatly inspiring to see one person who affects and evolves his industry to such a great degree.
While I agreed deeply with so much of what he said, when he left there was one comment in passing on the way to the elevator that troubled me. While I agreed with the sentiment of his thought the application in the context of brands and business didn't quite jive. As an advocate and practitioner of crowd sourcing he suggested we crowd source all our client's advertising.
It didn't jive because of a "well we can't do that because it would put us out of business" thought, but because something was missing. I think I have may have figured out exactly what that is. Bear with me.
The world has no shortage of stories of heartbreak. Tales of not fitting in. Or stories of loss. You have them, your friends have them, we all tell them. Some better than others. In essence stories, such as tales of love, are a commodity. Penny a million.
And the world has no shortage of people who can play an instrument or sing. Many do it unremarkable, and a few remarkably.
However, there is a tremendous shortage of people who can tell a love story well and in a way that musically moves you. This ability to create a property around a commodity tale, in a way unique to the performer, that listeners can relate to and attached their own meaning and/or experience to is what builds a following for an artist.
Once you have an artist who can tell that love story well and in an emotive way you have something people will participate in. Something they believe in and relate to. In essence you then have a brand. It's not functional, it's emotive. You have something people want to contribute to and share with the people around them. Something they use to define who they are. Once you have a brand then your followers will design t-shirts, create their own videos, promote shows on your behalf and pay thousands of dollars for a boat cruise.
But the key is that first you needed someone to do something with that same old tale in order to kick start that attachment.
Now, if instead of taking a commodity like a love story and you take a commodity like fruit juice, chewing gum, a moisture cream or even pieces of rubber with synthetic leather stitched together with laces and a swoosh. Like a love story a container of juice is a commodity. But when someone attaches an idea/property/proposition or whatever you want to call it to the product, such as health (innocent,) joy (Cadbury) or manliness (Old Spice) and tells it in an emotive, interesting and compelling way, you have a real live brand. Something people can believe in, relate to and/or use to define who they are. Then you have something people can get behind and crowd source.
Just as a brand like Avril Lavigne is created by the way she crafts and delivers a love story, a brand like nike is created by the way they craft and deliver the story of opportunity within the context of sport.
But without that ability to apply imagination and performance to the love story Avril Lavigne would just be a local artist singing spoken work in a coffee shop in small town Ontario.