Radiohead and brand identity
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
5 May 2016
Radiohead continues to look ahead
I admire the band Radiohead tremendously.
It took me a bit of time to jump on board and call myself a fan. That’s not something I do willingly of music — in fact, I try to find what I dislike about music first and then work from there. Turns out, there isn’t much to dislike that Radiohead does or to be snarky about. These guys are just good.
I first took note of this around the year 2000. My son, whose favorite album ever is Radiohead’s OK Computer, was feverishly anticipating their follow up, Kid A. He’d read any music rag he could put his hands on that would give him a glimpse into what that album was going to sound like. He was a total fanboy.
Around this time, Time magazine put an article out about the band that I shared with my son. There was a bit from the write-up that I never forgot and gave me the utmost respect for Radiohead, which read something like: “They are not afraid to try something completely new and fail at it.”
To a brand guy, words like that screamed at me to “pay attention to this band!”
Radiohead is world class at being a band and using guerrilla marketing.
I could write a book about everything I love about Radiohead’s music, including their latest single, “Burn the Witch.” But that’s not my specialty. My forte is brand.
Turns out, I respect the way Radiohead promotes material just as much as I do the material.
Take when they released the beautiful In Rainbows. It was “pay what you want” for anyone who purchased it digitally (now a trend in the industry). A remarkable leap of faith.
Or its tactic with the release of the newest single, “Burn the Witch.” The band wiped away its internet presence. It sent out mysterious leaflets that read, “Sing the Song of Sixpence that Goes…Burn the Witch… We Know Where You Live” to UK based fans. The images on the leaflet were avant-garde and just curious enough. Then they posted the song on YouTube and Spotify.
One of Stealing Share’s tenants is that once a strategy is established, all visual and verbal touch-points must be aligned with the new brand.
Radiohead excels at this. The band knows just how to communicate to its customers. It does to me, and not with their music alone.
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