Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three keys to more innovative marketing: The case of Prince

1) Think Outside the Box:
To have innovative marketing, you must think outside the box, putting aside old ways of doing things.  This means tried and true marketing tactics need to be put aside so that better and bolder tactics can cut through the marketing mix.  This places you and your customer ahead of the curve and in a position for huge brand equity.  An example of this is Prince changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993 in an effort to rebrand himself while distancing himself from his record label.  Prince was the first to do this and it was very memorable - with noticeable effects at retail stores including eye catching signage and supporting ad copy.  Imagine having the only new album with an unpronounceable symbol in the Best Buy or Target flier.  It just makes the brand stand out and the fact that it can’t be pronounced makes it that much more attractive, especially for a product line that is auditory.

2) Don’t be Afraid to Take a Risk: In many ways Prince took a risk rebranding himself with this move, as he could have been the laughing stock of the press, his sales could have tanked, and he could have confused customers thereby diluting his art.  Yet this move was examined by the media and public for years after he did it, and everyone who didn’t know Prince’s brand got to know Prince’s brand as creative, visual, at times bizarre, and always ear pleasing.  Moreover, the move proved to position Prince as an artist in a league of his own, causing curiosity among fans and would-be fans.   As a result Prince’s concert sales, album sales, and other merchandise sales have been in sustained demand.  He regularly sells out arenas at high-ticket prices, is able to negotiate favorable record distribution deals, and maintains full artistic control of all of his work, something very few artists do, and something no artist does like him.  This success is all because his brand never got old, boring, or out of touch with the human experience. 

We all want the freedom to express ourselves, and at times, we all wear psychological masks. We even look at Prince and ask ourselves “am I being innovative enough in everything I do” and “can I risk the status quo”? For marketers in any sector this is a never-ending challenge, but if we take the right risks with an understanding of consumer psychology then we can win the market in our own way just like Prince did.  

3) Stay Organic to Your Brand:
If you have ever felt different or left aside you can emotionally relate to why Prince changed his name.  It is an expression of change and difference, and from a marketing perspective it was exciting to see this change.  For music fans, it was a new and updated version of Prince with many surprises that consumers were curios to be a part of, and so we bought his albums, saw his shows, and watched him on MTV.  As a result his brand became a market of brands.  Yet what he did was organic to his brand because he was always the artists’ artist, and he always spoke in riddles and mystical poetry.  Also, he was clever enough to introduce the market to this symbol on his 1992 “symbol” album cover before he changed his name.  Ironically, that albums first track was titled, “My Name is Prince” which made things even more organic to his brand.  Had he not done this pre-work, or been another artist, the symbol rebranding may not have worked.  However, for the artist once known as an unpronounceable symbol, now known as prince, no one gets confused by his brand, for his notes and names speak beyond words and at times even frustrate us, which seems to make his business only do better.  

Jeremy Swenson, MBA, is an experienced marketer, marketing manager, communicator, sales person, and business analyst/academic.  He has extensive product experience with mortgages, loan/lines, checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets accounts, pay day loans, CDs, property and causality insurance, playing jazz, and even some basic experience auditing employee benefit programs.  Additionally, his background includes federal work experience as a Rural Associate Carrier with the U.S.P.S., and as an Enumerator with the U.S. Census Bureau (Dept. of Commerce) in 2000.  He has been active with the MN AMA since 2009 and serves on the Social Media/Marcom Committee.  You can reach Jeremy at jer.swenson@live.com. 

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous said...

I doubt that Charlie Sheen's brand evolution will be as successful.

Anonymous said...

Charlie could take advantage of all the p.r. he gets and turn it positive to drive his sales and brand but he gets too negative and attacks people and groups of people so he turns off many thereby diluting his brand. See this link on the sheer power of Prince’s brand in terms of fast concerts sales after a late show announcement for 21 shows at an arena in CA.


Post a Comment