<3 branding websites.
Brands, music and ‘credibility’
Comments:0 Add your comment
If we’re celebrating a boom era in the relationship between music and brands its worth recalling that the marriage hasn’t always been one of perfect harmony. Rock ‘n’ roll is an outsider sport and its relationship with rebellion, vice and general mischief is well documented (and as for reggae...) So, how do we reconcile rock to a future in which brand compliance looks increasingly unavoidable as labels shy away from artist development and traditional music media falls off the edge of a cliff?
We know that there has been something of a shift of mindset in recent years. Where once punk was defined in opposition to prevailing commercial tastes and leftfield electronic music of the 90s adopted anonymous anti-establishment personas, now bands feel more at home interacting amongst mass culture. In a world in which Jay-Z headlines Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage and Bloc Party are remixed by Burial, youth cultural tribalism has been confined to a fringe sport practiced by a very few living life at the thin end of the long tail.
Perhaps the two poles of the brand-music divide are best represented by former bandmates Carl Barat and Pete Doherty. Barat has been ubiquitous in branded contexts since the demise of The Libertines whereas no brand will touch Doherty with a long stick, naturally. Both are extreme examples but Barat’s complicity with unimaginative brand work has done little for him or his partners whilst Doherty retains a considerable dose of mystique for his impressionable fans. Whatever we feel about this state of affairs we need to understand how to communicate with this mindset.
The central principle in delivering credible brand-music partnerships is an obvious one but one that’s frequently overlooked: brands must offer something unique within music culture in order to earn their place at the party. What this means depends on the music audience that you’re addressing and will be different for a soft drinks company working with an R&B megastar to a fashion retailer supporting new bands on the festival circuit. But both will drive better results by following this simple dictum. Here are three principles that we adhere to at FRUKT when addressing the thorny subject of ‘credibility’:
1. Build big ideas that not only deliver on brand personality and values but excite a music audience with something genuinely new
2. Don’t assume your brand has a right to a ‘voice’ within music – instead act as a ‘facilitator’ for genuine creative voices
3. Make a commitment and build your role over time – brief, noisy activations are quickly forgotten and viewed sceptically by music fans
If, however, you think that ‘credibility’ died with shellac and Carl Barat’s work has opened exciting new vistas for brands in the music space, let us have it. Add your comments to the thread and we’ll battle it out. Finally, some footage of our Topman CTRL project in action to put these ideas into context: