I Can't Get No Satisfaction From My Branding (A Lesson From The Rolling Stones)



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I saw The Rolling Stones' "Still Life" tour at San Diego Stadium, aka Jack Murphy Stadium, aka Qualcomm Stadium, in October of 1981. I was 19 years old, young, dumb and full of ... baloney. I was very excited to see The Stones because they were so old, I was sure that would be their final tour. Clearly not one of my wiser predictions.

As you might imagine, there was plenty of pre-tour buzz. And a lot of that buzz focused on the possibility of violence during the tour. It seems almost comical now when you consider that I looked like somewhat of youngster at the recent kick-off of their "Zip Code" tour here in San Diego. However, in October of 1981, Altamont was less that 12 years in the past, and Stones fans were still considered a pretty rowdy bunch.

I'll admit it. I was a dumb-ass back then. (You just thought, well he's still a dumb-ass. See how I can read your mind!) I figured it would be pretty cool to see a giant brawl at a Stones concert. That's what memories are made of, right? I was of the mind that The Stones should rock the stadium as hard as they could, and if it crumbled to the ground in the process, oh well.

The Stones, it seems, had other ideas. I can't say that I was disappointed, because the show was friggin' awesome, BUT I did feel that the song selection bowed slightly to the much-hyped fear of violence. They didn't play Street Fighting Man, they didn't play It's Only Rock and Roll, and they didn't play Sympathy for the Devil. These were the exact songs I was hoping they'd play, because in my dumb-assedness, I thought these would be the most likely to trigger some sort of newsworthy sideshow.

At the time, I felt The Stones had sold out -- had buckled under the pressure from The Man. In the ensuing years, though, I learned to appreciate Mick, Keith, Ron and Charlie as businessmen. I eventually realized that they were at a point where a concert fight would do them a lot more harm than good. Their brand had evolved, and protecting its future was the smart thing to do.

In the 30+ years since then, The Stones have continued to evolve their brand. Which brings us to the "Zip Code" tour -- where they played Street Fighting Man, and they played It's Only Rock and Roll, and they played Sympathy for the Devil (with Mick in a red feather boa, no less). And I can pretty much guarantee that not one person in the audience thought, oh crap, i hope there's not a fight (or oh crap, I hope there's a fight). In a sense, I guess their brand has come full circle.

So what does this have to do with fintech marketing? I think the lesson we can learn from the Glimmer Twins is that there are no absolutes in brand management. How you manage your brand today depends on where you are today and where you want to go tomorrow. Tomorrow you'll manage your brand a little differently. And you can't manage your brand like Apple, for example, because, well, you're not Apple. What works for them won't necessarily work for you, because you're in a different place.

It goes back to my oft-repeated (by me, anyway) admonition to never take a cookie-cutter approach to your marketing. If you do -- and especially if you take a cookie-cutter approach to brand management -- you'll end up no better off than that dumb-ass kid who was pissed that he didn't see a fight at The Stones concert.

That is all.

#rollingstones #branding #brandmanagement

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