It was March 1957, in Liverpool, England, when a sixteen year old boy started a band and named it The Quarrymen. He befriended a fifteen year old guitarist and added him to the group. That member brought one of his friends for an audition and in spite of being just fourteen, he too became one of the Quarrymen. Over the next few years the band played small clubs in England, shuffled members in and out, occasionally played as a threesome and grew as large as five members.
Rooted in skiffle – a blend of jazz, blues, pop and folk music – the group embraced the rock and roll sound of the 1950’s. So much so that in 1960 they changed the group’s name to The Beatals as an homage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. After a few iterations they settled on The Beatles.
By the Summer of 1962 The Beatles were set to make their first recording at the now famous Abbey Road Studios. The session was their first for record label EMI and it was at this point that the group made its final member change. They brought in a new drummer by the name of Ringo. In November they recorded Please Please Me which ultimately became their first number 1 record.
After five years of struggle, change, trial and error and a great many performances, all of the pieces were in place – the four band members, the chemistry, original and unique music. The group had the conviction that there would be no stopping them now. They were right. The Beatles went on to impact music – and society – to a degree never before realized. In the process the band has become more than a music icon – The Beatles are more like musical royalty. And yes, they are this Friday’s Fearless Brand.
Fearless brands create legacies.
Fifty years ago today, 07 February, 1964, The Beatles arrived at JFK airport in New York. Their arrival sparked what became known as ‘the British Invasion’. Two days later they made their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. That show drew seventy-four million viewers and Beatlemania was in full swing. The fiftieth anniversary of their first U.S. appearance is being commemorated on The Grammys, in the Ed Sullivan Theater on the David Letterman Show and in a CBS special on Sunday 09 February.
There is no argument that The Beatles – The Fab Four as the became known – are a fearless brand. As such, there is a great deal to learn from them about successful branding. Here are a few
Bill’s Fab Four Keys to Fearless Branding
Embrace your dreams – John Lennon had the dream of starting a band and living a life writing and singing music. While it took five years for things to sort themselves out, that dream came true and to a level I doubt Lennon could have imagined. What would have happened had he given up on that dream? Imagine.
Be authentic – The Beatles were brash, unique, irreverent and very comfortable being themselves. They were true to their music, their beliefs and their approach to life. The New York media embraced them because The Beatles gave as good as they got. When the media screamed, the Fab Four did likewise. An aspect of the Beatles which was often overlooked was their sense of humor. Playful, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek and sometimes just plain silly. John was once asked by a reporter “Is Ringo the best drummer in the world?” -He smiled as he responded “Ringo isn’t even the best drummer in the Beatles.” See more Beatles humor here.
Manage your brand – Start by knowing what you can – and what you cannot – manage. At their very core, The Beatles were young, brash boys doing their thing in their own way. However, they were wise enough to know that to be truly successful they needed to channel that independence. In 1963 the group made the decision that all four members would contribute vocally in order to validate their position in the group. Their manager, Brian Epstein, told them “Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you’re going to have to change—stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking”. The Beatles actively managed their brand to the point of planning every detail of their American tour fifty years ago – from creating the perfect song list to overseeing the handling of the mountains of fan mail they were receiving.
Have the courage to evolve – The first five years of the Beatles were filled with changes, adjustments, learning and growing. As a result they became mega-successful within the next two years. It would have been easy to to rest on that success. Not The Beatles. Their seeking, exploring and experimenting included their music, sexuality, the metaphysical, social causes, relationships – they never stopped evolving. The result was better music, continued relevance, new levels of success and the completion of their legacy.
The Beatles are a legacy – a musical icon that will likely survive until the end of time. Here is what we all have in common with the Fab Four. Each of us can pursue our dreams – be authentic – manage our road in life – continue to grow and evolve. Each of us has it in us to be a fearless brand. The success is whatever we determine it to be. Our legacy may not be as far reaching but it can certainly resonate in the same manner with those we serve. Build your fearless brand. Achieve stratospheric success. Create your legacy.
Wow Bill, great post. I really like how they balanced their dreams and authenticity with being willing to do what it took to manage their brand and evolve. The rest is history. Fearless indeed.
Thanks Doug. You’re exactly right about the need to manage their brand to continue to evolve. It takes courage to do so. Truly fearless.