Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AC/DC: Consistency is "Who Made Who"

AC/DC has been in business for over 40 years, and has sold over 200 million albums worldwide. That's pretty darn impressive for brothers Agnus and Malcom Young, both of whom play guitar in the band, and brother George Young, who is the unofficial "sixth member" of the band. They have withstood the test of time and developed one of the most recognizable and iconic sounds in rock history. The minute an AC/DC song starts on the radio, you know it's them. In addition to their sound and stage presence, AC/DC has built a huge business around the band's brand, with all sorts of merchandise incorporating the AC/DC trademark and logo. Everything from t-shirts, neckties, beach cover-up dresses and baby bibs, to a range of wines, German beer and board games can be found with the name AC/DC attached. So how have they done it? What lesson can be learned from the success of this Australian rock band? Consistency.

AC/DC has built a loyal following through sticking to what it knows best - hard rocking guitar riffs and lyrics about sex, drugs and rock n' roll. It's simple. And it's brilliant. AC/DC is the place you go to when you just want to rock. Go into any dive bar across the country, and you are bound to hear an AC/DC song (or twelve) played on the jukebox. There is a clear identity to the brand and legacy of AC/DC. So much so, that AC/DC is able to take that brand and cross market into completely un-rock n' roll territory, like baby clothes and bibs. Whatever their brand touches becomes automaticall cool. Parents craving to still feel cool want to buy AC/DC shirts for their toddlers because it screams, "look at me -- I'm a cool, edgy parent." In fact, AC/DC is such a defined brand and legacy that their unwillingness to waver or change over the years has almost become a battle cry. They stand alone atop the great rock n' roll mountain waving their flag. And taking that brand to the masses through merchandising without softening the music or message has allowed the band great commercial success without compromising its own integrity. They, unlike so many, have stayed true to themselves. In fact, bringing their brand to mass retail chains and a range of products looks more like an attempt to corrupt the world with rock n' roll rebellion than it does to sell out and go corporate. I mean, who is to fault any artist for a larger audience or louder megaphone to scream through?  

The point of all this is that whether you are an artist, athlete or entrepreneur building your brand, stick to what you know. Do not let outside influencers tell you to be something you are not. Grant it, there is always room for change and a natural evolution. Who you are today may not be who you are tomorrow. But stay true to yourself and what you know you do best. When it comes to building a business and brand, having a solid core identity, and sticking to that identity, can be key to achieving long-term success.

Click here to read more about the AC/DC family business: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ruthblatt/2014/04/30/why-being-a-family-business-made-acdc-the-most-consistent-brand-in-rock-n-roll/