What does a rock legend do to become relevant to more people? Release a new album? No, that will hit the hard core fans more than attract new ones. Launch a ten-city tour? No, same problem. In today’s world, more than anything, you go on American Idol or The Celebrity Apprentice.
Let’s be blunt, guys like Steven Tyler and Bret Michaels have been around. They’ve been around and around. They may be rock legends but finding new audiences in our cluttered world is like starting all over again. They simply have to do what we all have to do whether we are launching or relaunching a brand: They have to find a platform to communicate their heart.
Interestingly, in nearly all cases, these celebs are reinvigorating their careers not by being the tough, hard-driving rockers we all came to know them for. Instead they are taking an approach that is more genuine to their lives today. They are being real and if they can teach us anything about branding from their own brand success, it’s that “real” sells.
Here’s a guy–rocker from Poison–who came on The Celebrity Apprentice last season (and made a repeat appearance last night) with most of us thinking he’s just the womanizing washed up rock star from the MTV reality show “Rock of Love.” Few expected much from him–Donald Trump said so much–other than entertainment value.
Then Bret started to reveal Bret. He dropped the rocker shell for the most part. You learned he was in the game to win money and raise awareness for the American Diabetes Association. You learned he is a lifelong diabetic and feels for anyone who has to live with this disease. You witnessed the phone call where he learned that his young daughter’s tests came back abnormal and that she is now borderline diabetic. You saw his pain. You learned he was a hard-working, tough competitor who doesn’t quit. His own health issues played out on TV. It was impossible for Bret to be the tough rocker. Millions fell in love with Bret and his career soared to new heights. He’s pretty much everywhere now.
They said that American Idol would be washed up without the sharp-tongued Simon Cowell. Well this season proved them all wrong with high viewership and record votes. The reason is because we have Steven Tyler. Who could have ever expected that the lead singer of Aerosmith would bring such spirit to this show? After all he’s the “Love in the Elevator” guy. How could we have known he’d give us such “Sweet Emotion” after every contestant’s performance this season? You can’t help but feel his heartfelt love of music, talent and commitment. The guy is connecting for the first time with millions of people who were not Aerosmith fans, but they are now. Record sales are way up.
What you are seeing here is yet more proof that we buy from people we like, and that we can spot a phony a mile away. It also proves that being genuine is golden. When you’re real and reveal your heart, people fall in love with you and your brand. Of course, if your heart is rather Grinch-like, the real you may not be quite so lovable!
Why so few people get this simple fact is a mystery to me. I see cases of it everywhere. Just look around. You’ll see that when you find your platform, are the real thing and that real thing is loveable, you’ll want to hang on tight. Success will come faster than you may think. Bret and Steven, thank you for showing us yet again that genuine heart is the power of any brand–even tough, cool rock stars.
What is branding? Heart & Mind® Branding.