Mike Coughlin, Founder, Digital Blue Creative
With the recent death of global superstar Prince, people are looking back at this music and pop culture innovator in awe. As a brilliant musician, entertainer, cultural trendsetter, businessman, and brander, Prince is a shining example for any brand seeking eternal fame. Here are five tips entrepreneurs and brand marketers can learn from the extraordinary life and career of Prince:
1) Dare To Be Bold
There’s a famous Latin saying, “Fortuna Audaces Iuvat” or “Fortune Favors the Bold.” In other words, people who aren’t afraid to take risks have the most to gain. Prince certainly lived by these words, pushing the limits of artistic freedom, style, and sexuality to their extremes. He was provocative, which contributed greatly to his world-renowned success and net worth of around $300 million
Thanks to the internet and social media revolution, producing “content” and sharing it around the globe has never been easier. Anyone can build a website on SquareSpace.com, write a 95 character ad on Google, and send out social media posts across multiple platforms using Hootsuite. Marketing has never been easier, right? Think again. Just because you can produce something called “content” doesn’t mean that anyone will read, view, share, or connect with what you’re posting.
Technology is leveraged as a medium to deliver a message, but it’s not guaranteed that people will be inspired to relay that message. Successful branding requires a bold, artistic vision that integrates imagery, colors, sounds, and purpose into a compelling narrative. This influences people to take action.
2) Be Truly Authentic
Upon hearing of Prince’s death, thousands of complete “strangers” lined the streets outside of his Minneapolis home in tears, saddened by his death. Even though most had never met him in person, Prince’s authentic nature turned strangers into cult-like followers who would do anything and pay anything to see him perform.
When it comes to building relationships, authenticity is king. Consumers are drawn to genuine people and brands, while the fake brands are discarded unconsciously. Authentic brands create movements and fanatics, not just customers. Your brand should be true to its story and appeal to something more than just making money.
3) Radiate in Vibrant Color
As Jimmy Fallon put it on a recent memorial broadcast of SNL, Prince “owned” the color purple. When you think of purple, you think of Prince. No doubt about it.
Whether it’s an actual color or quirk of personality, color is what will differentiate your brand from the rest. Does your brand stand out as vibrant and unique in a marketplace flooded with grey? Do your customers associate your brand with a specific and vibrant color? In either case, don’t be grey. Be different. Just ask the Purple Cow, which will inspire you to “transform your business by being remarkable.”
4) Evoke Deep Emotions
Although some of Prince’s greatest hits were produced in the 70s and 80s, the emotions evoked by his music continue to connect with multiple generations. People have listened to Prince on vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, and now in digital format. It wasn’t the technology or distribution method that made people purchase Prince’s albums; it was the message behind his music.
When you create a strong emotional connection with people, they will follow your brand from one technological fad to the next. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever is going to replace these tools someday, a powerful message will outlast any medium. The rest will be forgotten.
5) Shatter Boundaries
If you were to ask someone what type of music Prince produced, they could reply with one of many things. They could say he produced funk, blues, jazz, rock, R&B, soul, hip-hop, or all of the above. Prince broke all of the genre boundaries and even broke down race lines. You couldn’t quite put him in to any one category. He didn’t produce “black music” or “white music.” He produced music that moved you, physically and emotionally. He even crossed industries with feature films like “Purple Rain” and the lesser known “Under the Cherry Moon.” Prince didn’t follow trends, he created them.
In the world of business, all too often companies get trapped in fierce head to head competition within set market boundaries. Boundaries limit creative thinking and growth. When it comes to your brand, don’t confine your thinking to the bounds of your competition. Think different, be bold, and go a little bit crazy! Now channel your inner purple and share it with the world.
About the Author
Mike Coughlin has 12 years of experience of working in the digital marketing space with core competencies in marketing analytics consulting, search engine optimization, social media, global paid search management, and video production.
Throughout his career, Coughlin gained a wide range of knowledge and experience working with global companies in almost every industry, including Sony Music, SAP, Four Seasons Hotels, Humana, Wharton School of Business, Scholastic, National Grid, BMW, Boston.com, DirecTV, O’Neill, and Boston Globe.Coughlin has also spoken at Search Engine Strategies Conference (now called ClickZ Live).
With a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, Coughlin is the owner of Digital Blue Creative, a full-service digital advertising agency in Boston. Recently, he has also become the executive producer of a number of creative videos and is launching a lifestyle apparel company #BlueOceanLife.
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