What Rock Stars In High Heels Have To Do With The Future Of Your Brand - A Lesson From The KISS School Of Business
Brands come and brands go. We’ve seen the business cycle get shorter and shorter in past decades (Facebook’s 10-year reign seems like a lifetime) and it makes it harder and harder to carve out a lasting niche for yourself. What’s the use, entrepreneurs wonder, if their brand will be yesterday’s news almost as soon as they’ve started building it?
It’s rare to see anyone break the endless cycle of launches that end in immediate obscurity. That’s why the hard rock band Kiss’ 40
Yes, there are important business lessons to be learned everywhere, even when they involve levitating drum sets and strapped leather outfits. Kiss . . . has something special.
Their success defies logic. Most rock bands from the 70s are long gone, but Kiss just keeps getting stronger. They’ve sold more than 100 million records and have the most gold albums of any American rock band—ever.
So what’s their secret? And more importantly, how can we apply that secret to keep our businesses and brands from getting run over by the next fresh crop of entrepreneurs?
Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, KISS in Stockholm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I stumbled across the secret in an interview that Kiss bassist/vocalist did for The Toronto Sun. “A long time ago we decided not to try to be everything to everybody,” Simmons is quoted as saying, in response to a question about the band’s incredible longevity. “What we are is what we are . . . We’re a showy band that plays non-showy music.”
Kiss found their identity early on in the band’s life and decided to nurture it. They’re a “. . . showy band that plays non-showy music,” and they’re okay with that. If they weren’t, there’s no way Gene Simmons would still be running around in high heels—gimmicks don’t last that long.
what the band is, not where they sit in relation to other musicians. They know that the only thing that they can control is their contribution to the market, not the entirety of the market itself. Instead of trying to beat the competition, they devote all of their energy to putting on a show and producing the best musical product that they can.
Whether the members of Kiss knew this when they were getting started is unclear. But what is clear is that while the bands defined by their place in the market have come and gone, Kiss has always persevered. They’ve become one of the landmarks of the music world, a band by which other musicians can measure themselves. They’re like Ford or Microsoft
It’s working for them. Here’s how that applies to you:
When you define your brand in terms of the market that it’s in, you doom it to eventual obsolescence. Markets change, after all! Are you the cheapest? Someone will figure out how to do it cheaper. The fastest? Someone will become faster. The most luxurious? Someone will find a way to squeeze even more caviar into that private amphibious rocket ship. The branding rat race is a losing game.
However, when you define your brand by the things that make it unique instead of focusing on where it sits in the market, you’re laying the groundwork for something real and long-lasting. As people get to know you, and what makes your brand stand apart, they start to care about what you do. You start to attract the kind of customers that you want—the kind that will still be coming to your shows in 40 years, the kind that will eventually be buying those Kiss-themed caskets for their grandparents.
And if your brand’s identity can stand on its own, no one will ever be able to beat you at it. There’s never going to be a band that can say, “We’re more like Kiss than Kiss is!” They might be louder, faster, flashier, younger, sexier, etc., but it doesn’t matter—they’ll never beat Kiss at being themselves.
I plunged into the public spotlight in a big way in 2009 when I appeared as an investor shark on ABC\'s "Shark Tank" TV show. However, my foray into big-time business ventures started well before that. I am the Founder and Chairman of As Seen On TV, Inc.(www.asseenontv.com) and also have been crowned the Ambassador of the As Seen On TV industry because I was one of the first entrepreneurs to embrace and perfect the "infomercial" that has since launched thousands of products and businesses -- including many of my own. The Original Jack LaLane Juicer, The Great Wok of China and Tony Little\'s Ab Isolator became household names after I gave them the \'As Seen On TV\' treatment. The simple truth is that I know how to turn ideas into million-dollar products. I intend to use this blog to help other budding entrepreneurs strike gold by getting their products to market quickly, while avoiding the mistakes that doom many a good idea. I\'ll not only provide proven tips for business success, but I\'ll also pinpoint and explain crowdfunding and other extremely important business boosters.
The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.