During the launch of iPhone 6, U2 officially made the largest release of any music record in human history; giving their album for free to more than 500 million people or as Bono puts it, “one Billion ears”.
Now the manner in which they put their album in every iTunes account without users’ permission drew both flak and gratitude from millions all around the world; some thanking them for their generosity (although reportedly Apple paid U2 quite handsomely) while others cursing them for invading privacy. More than 81 million people listened to "Songs of Innocence" and U2 sold out all the shows of the first leg of their tour. The fact that U2 can still shake up the industry is a testimony to their relevance. To be right in the middle of public domain after 36 years in show business requires talent and some serious marketing skills; and that has always been U2’s forte. Here are 6 ways how four young boys from north side of Dublin managed to create a juggernaut of a brand.
1. Hold on to your core idea
When the band first came to North America in early 1980s, they advertised themselves as an Irish Rock band. Now when they do their multimillion dollar stage shows all around the world, they still call themselves four Irish boys from Dublin. Being musicians from Ireland was an important part of their identity which later translated into their brand.
2. It’s all in the name, well at least some of it
When asked about why the band chose U2 as its name, Bono replied that unlike other band names at that time, the word “U2” was ambiguous and would get attention while written on posters because it can be written in larger fonts. Moreover its simplicity meant that it could even be read by people in Japan or other countries where English wasn’t a popular language.
3. Embrace ambiguity and change
Being true to your brand name doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be afraid of experimentation. All successful brands imbibe change as a part of their identity. They analyze the demands of their customers and try to be relevant in every possible era. U2 completely reinvented their look and music in the early 90s and again in 2000s. Even the look and the persona of the members keeps changing with time. Of course it doesn’t work out well with everyone all the time but it is much better than becoming stagnant and therefore irrelevant.
4. Develop a stomach for harsh criticism
Despite 22 Grammys, largest selling concerts on earth and legions of fans worldwide, the band draws considerable hate from a lot of people. But if you think about it, so do all market leaders. No matter what amount of resounding success you achieve, you will always have to face criticism. The important thing is to focus on your customers, your service and keep moving forward
5. Brand Association
Brand Association is a vital part of brand creation. That’s why companies around the world spend billions on celebrity endorsements. U2’s collaboration with Live Aid, world leaders, major music artists, Hollywood actors and even the Pope certainly made them reach more people. Their decade long association with Apple has given them unparalleled opportunities to gain more audience.
6. Never forget your USP
When U2 first burst out into the Rock and Roll scene, they weren’t the most talented band, neither was their music groundbreaking. What made them stand apart from the rest was their energetic live performances and their ability to create intimate connect with the audience. After achieving success and becoming the richest music group in the world, they never lost sight of what got them this far. Whether it is performing on a flatbed truck across NYC or building the largest concert stage ever created for U2360 Tour, the band always puts most of its resources and energy in live performances.
So if you are an aspiring entrepreneur or an established businessman looking to build or manage your brand, maybe the biggest rock band in the world is not a bad place to look for inspiration.
Have a Beautiful Day!