Long before today’s most outrageous acts garnered the most likes, tweets, views and laughs, there was the original outrageous act: David Letterman.
David Letterman was always the yin to the yang of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Where the Tonight Show tended to be tame and inoffensive, David Letterman tirelessly worked for the more brash and in your face (while still being inoffensive).
One may go so far as to just call it stupid.
But in that stupidity is where David Letterman’s genius works. Stupidity brought us Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks and even his iconic top 10 lists. As an example, Mr. Letterman’s first top 10 list was, “Words that almost rhyme with peas.”
And, the number one word that almost rhymes with peas is (drumroll):
As we near the David Letterman last show.
As we head into the David Letterman last show, I believe he always stayed true to himself, even tweaking his bosses with jokes about GE when he was at NBC. He also made fun of himself, his guests and his band. But he was quick to address real events in a most sincere way (watch his first show back after 9/11).
Was he funny every night? No. But who could be for 30 years? What he did was keep his schmaltz-less persona intact, and had far more hits than misses.
Brands should take note. As with David Letterman’s brand, a company’s brand is not something that should be transient or the flavor of the day. Rather it should serve as beacon for what you are doing now and where you are heading. Brands sometimes fail in the short term, on a project or an initiative. But if a brand is true to what it is and stays the course, it ultimately will succeed. (As long as it’s meaningful.)
Could you imagine if David Letterman stopped doing his Top 10 list after “Words that almost rhyme with peas”?
So thank you David Letterman for reminding us of the importance of a brand staying true to itself, even when it gets a little rough. And thank you for sharing your brand with the world for the past 30 years.