A Fantastic Punk Rock
Example Of Branding
And My Personal Brand
Let’s Consider An Example Of Branding As It Pertains To Each Person
Think for a moment. I’m pretty dang average. So, I can only give the perspective of an ‘average dude’. I’m indicating I’m not stylish, to be clear.
First Impressions Can Relate To Branding
A first impression will come by seeing a person’s face. A close second when meeting a new acquaintance is to note how they dress. Makes sense. It does cover the majority of their body most times.
As much as we may try to not judge a book by its cover, our brain leans that way on first impression. Meaning, the choice of what you wear has an impact on how you’re first perceived. Before you can remember what shirt you have on for the day you’re receiving judgement. Judgment of some kind. We all do it. Don’t feel bad about it.
Instead, we’re going to HARNESS this. I have a riotous amount of love for punk music.
Anyone who knows me, knows it’s ‘77 or bust. The early punk fashionistas, going way back to its start understood branding. Whether they knew exactly what they were doing or not didn’t matter. That’s because Malcolm McLaren did.
A Fantastic Example Of Branding; Malcolm McLaren
Malcolm McLaren was a British artist. He’s a somewhat Warholian figure. And Andy is rolling in his grave at this comparison.When you Google him, the explanation of who ‘he was’ shows, ‘Impresario’. That’s a badass title. McLaren’s responsible for early punks entire flavor, attitude and branding. Can’t you tell from the above photo?
Yes, it is true. Everything you heard about The Sex Pistols being formed in the same ‘fashion as a boy band’ is true. To put it that flat is to over-simplify a lot of stuff. But, they were ‘assembled’ by McLaren. This was done in 1975 in London. McLaren was looking to do some quick promo for his clothing store, Sex. From there, the rest is literally history.
Side Note – It’s funny when you know certain fact. Then you go research them. Reading back on the tale in someone else’s words again makes you so excited to say, “Oh, yeah. I did know that!” The next is dedicated to that!
Example Of Branding – Johnny Rotten and Bernie Rhodes
Early punk rock tastemaker and music businessman, Bernard ‘Bernie’ Rhoades.
There’s an argument being made here about punk music and it’s relation to branding. It’s not too much of a stretch to make. Only when researching this very moment did a fact which slipped by me prove the entire point 🙂
The first time (And this is information pulled off the Sex Pistols Wikipedia page, for transparency) the two Gentlemen named above met was in 1975. As the article I linked to points out, “In August 1975, Bernard Rhodes spotted nineteen-year-old King’s Road habitué John Lydon wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words I Hate handwritten above the band’s name and holes scratched through the eyes.”
Also, “According to Jones (referring to Sex Pistols Guitarist, Steve Jones), “He came in with green hair. I thought he had a really interesting face. I liked his look. He had his ‘I Hate Pink Floyd’ T-shirt on, and it was held together with safety pins. John had something special, but when he started talking he was a real arsehole—but smart.””
Boom! Right There! Example Of Branding, Proven!
I stopped reading for the first time to come back to this draft page. And this is information in the 3rd paragraph of the Wikipedia article, mind you. But, it’s as relevant towards providing an example about branding in 1975, as it is in 2021. Already we’ve begun to define punk aesthetic from the brutally honest lifestyles of its early (and later) devotees. Before there ever was ‘Anarchy In The UK’, this sniveling little 19 year old pictured up-top was recognized solely based on the things we still relate to punk today.
A Literal Example Of Branding
Green hair, safety pins, and counter-culture in the form of the tee-shirt. While we all build or aim to brand, McLaren was busy at work trying to tame it, put it in a container and get paid off it. When there’s a will there’s a way, right?!
You don’t get much more brutally honest then, “Lydon had been rechristened “Johnny Rotten” by Jones, apparently because of his bad dental hygiene.” – See, again, BRANDING!!!!
To defend the ‘example of branding’ argument further we can incorporate words from Malcolm himself. McLaren states in not even a further paragraph down, on the same Wikipedia article, “[I] launched the idea [The Sex Pistols] in the form of a band of kids who could be perceived as being bad.” – EHEM ** COUGH – COUGH ** – BRANDING!!!
And This Is Where The Defense Rests On Providing Proof This Is A Fantastic Punk Rock Example Of Branding
I think the connection of punk rock and artist branding has been defined in a clear manner. Whether they were conscious of their efforts, or not, punkers started a revolution for musicians. One that said, “Well, let’s start a band even though none of us can play.” Thankfully for us, plenty of them were liars with hidden talents who changed the face of rock n’ roll.
They Nailed Branding
They hit that nail so squarely on the head that even early physical releases reflected these same branding notions. For further explanation, let’s check back in with Wikipedia quickly once more –
“The single’s packaging and visual promotion also broke new ground. Reid and McLaren came up with the notion of selling the record in a completely wordless, featureless black sleeve. The primary image associated with the single was Reid’s “anarchy flag” poster: a Union Flag ripped up and partly safety-pinned back together, with the song and band names clipped along the edges of a gaping hole in the middle. This and other images created by Reid for the Sex Pistols quickly became punk icons.”
This is all before Sid Vicious even joined the band. I mean, they were clearly all about image over music. I need to move on before I plagiarize an entire Wikipedia article.. But it really is interesting. Stop in some time.
But Back To Malcolm
I bring McLaren up because of his astute eye. He forecasted the direction of punk, fashion, attitude and clothes. He took that direction, that flavor and put it to use. At the time, what was popular punk fashion made non-punks aghast. McLaren harnessed this puzzled disgust. He used the disgust of the ‘status-quo type folks’ to draw in more a youthful crowd. A youthful crowd looking for any reason to act spiteful towards their parents. These kids were ready for indoctrination and had mommy and daddy’s money to spend. McLaren saw dollar signs.
No matter the politics inside the band, or at Malcolm, his impact is undeniable. He sure left an indelible mark on all fashion that followed!
Other savvy U.K. punks are using branding via clothing. I’m going to use another early seminal UK act as my example. The only band that matters. The Clash were brilliant at branding! But it was borne from necessity. While they did look cool, their aim was to have clothes on their back.
This is my favorite picture of the most recognized Clash lineup. Left to right, you’ll notice Mick Jones (Guitar, Backing Vocals), Joe Strummer (Guitar, Lead Vocals), Paul Simonon (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals), and Topper Headon (Drums, Backing Vocals).
The Clash were able to do what they did thanks to squatting. In WWII England took several righteous bombings from the Nazis. It took out a pricey amount of property among so many other things. The flats that were never quite patched up sat derelict. They were in the same exact spots untouched.
I’m skipping a lot of Clash history to get to the point here, as much as that pains me. Fast forward through the members’ respective early careers. Forget how they met, the influence of the 101’rs, up through formation and a few practices even. Voila! We’re in an abandoned building in 1970’s U.K. A friend of the crew had wired up some … stuff to allow for electricity to flow. And the band worked with what they had.
Grinding It Out.
Day after day in this tenement, sometimes foregoing meals to get by. Needless to say, spending money on clothes was quite a financial hardship. Rather than buy new jeans, you’d pin closed the tear on the front. The tear on the back of your jacket? Throw a patch on it! Get sewing, it’s cold out. At a point this became trendy. This allowed the busted, up and comers to say, “Well, we can add our name on the back with a bit of spray paint. Good as any other way of putting ink to fabric.”
It was too cost effective for them to buy a blank white tee, a can of paint and sprawl the name out to make a quick buck. With how much merch costs to have designed, I’ve toyed with using this approach as well! I don’t know how well it would go over so I don’t bother but these guys were ahead of my thinking by 40 stinking years! They thought the quick fixes the they did on their tattered clothes looked cool. At best that’s what they hoped for. But little did they know they were starting a revolution with a bomber jacket.
The Takeaway Here
(other than punk is the coolest stuff ever) Is that you don’t need money to brand. It can be completely sub-conscious. It can be that easy, if you’re that genuine. If you actually believe in what you preach then others will hop along. That’s only a matter of time. If you say one thing and exude another, watch as people walk away from you. People will want to sport the same colors as someone who is genuine. “Wait, by being myself I can get free advertising from my fanbase?” Yes! Emphatic yes!
More time to focus on your music will come by way of minimizing efforts where possible. And be sure to avoid over-thinking, as this will interfere with studio time! Meanwhile, you’ve assembled a squad of people who appreciate your honesty. The Sex Pistols had one! Called the Bromley Contingent. This squad is your livelihood for many reasons.
First This Squad Will
They will like you enough to buy something of yours for themselves. Then, they will wear that t-shirt with your massive logo on the front. This will lead others to say, “What’s that on your shirt?”
To which you’ll reply, “Oh, this musician, Chuck W.”
When that other person hasn’t heard of me, I stand a better shot of reaching their personal playlist. This is thanks to a vicarious suggestion by their friend.
The effect of word of mouth will stretch on even further. We’ll deem this person a ‘super fan’. At least we will when they begin promoting you because they like the vibe you’re setting forth.
They talk about you on social media, use a mutual hashtag to increase your visibility or write a blog post on you.
What Do You Stand For ?
So, what is it that you DO stand for? What is it you want to say? You have this podium and my attention, so how will you use and keep these vital things? Are part of a band? This band plays brighter, happier, more optimistic music? Solos carry on for vast periods at a time? Who are you as an Artist? You’re a Jam Band. Cool, so step one is down.
We’ve defined your sound to be ‘happy’ and ‘bright’. At the same time we’ve realizing who we are. Along the way we see where we fit, and it’s most likely safe to say that you stand for the old Hippie notions of Peace and Love. This is the obvious and stereotypical example, though.
We’ve got an amazing chance to define our image in an area that leaves us standing out from the crowd. All the while, we’ll recognize who we are. What I’m saying here is there’s no harm in either following convention, or thinking outside the box.
Let’s Try Another Example Of Branding
You play really fast. Your favorite life experience was meeting Lemmy at a 7-11 that one time (Remember, he had that cherry flavored Slushie?). You paint your nails black and dye your hair the same. It’s safe to assume you do something which sounds dark.
Is it Industrial, Noise, Speed-Metal? Emo? Either way, you’re giving the impression your sound relates best with the notion of ‘Doom and Gloom.’
Cool! You’ve already done a great job in the beginning stages of cultivating your image. Large changes in the way in which you dress and conduct yourself will be obvious.
Well, now that you do have that look about you, what are you trying to say with it? This should be a softball question for you, since at its heart it asks, “Why do you choose to dress like that?” The two answers should most likely be synonymous.
Now, that last statement is pretty presumptive. We all know what happens when we assume. . Because you wear black clothing, paint your nails and dye your hair you’re Robert Smith all a sudden? Hell no. Well, at least not necessarily. And that brings me to a large point
IT’S ON YOU TO TELL ME! I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT YOU, YOUR MUSICIANSHIP OR POSSIBLE APPEAL IF YOU DON’T PLAY YOUR HAND.
You don’t want me to assume. You want to sit me down and drill your story into my cerebellum. Assumption kicks off that awful game of our youth ‘Telephone’. The one where someone whispers something in someone’s ear. Then this continues until you see the final message. As delivered and interpreted by the last individual to hear it. You don’t want your messaging skewed.
You want to be able to recite it in your sleep. In the interests of that, I’m going to take 5 minutes to tell you how I answer this question as an Artist.
(Remember this is all off the top of my head. It’s precision comes from pitching it thousands of times) Hi there! My name is Chuck W. and I’m a solo Artist from NY. Before I discuss my music at all, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself. I love to assist fellow artists, because what’s good for the goose is always good for the gander. Plus, helping in this capacity is very fulfilling.
I Will Also
Always stand for mental health awareness. There’s a stigma in the United States against folks having issues on the inside. If it’s on the outside it’s heinous! Disgusting! Let’s get nine Dermatologists in here to patch that up. Tell someone you’re feeling suicidal, watch how fast they lock you in a psych ward on a mandatory hold. This disparity only forces sick folks back into a corner of shame and quiet suffering. There’s no reason for it, it is shameful, and while I have a voice I will speak against treating people in that fashion.
It’s not that I mean for it to be a weighty topic. But, depression and suicide is something far too prevalent in the artistic community. It needs to STOP. The only way we achieve this is through understanding and proactivity.
I know these emotions of depression and hopelessness illicit and it’s horrifying. Now, to boot, some guy behind a clipboard is going to decide my fate for me as another part of his day? All this while I sit suffering in my own skin? This is what causes folks to end up feeling sub-human, which furthers a downward spiral.
This is why awareness is key. You don’t ever know what’s going on in someone else’s world. That is their space and good luck trying to pry open the deepest depths of it. All we can do is support people to the best of our abilities in their toughest of times.
And, that, is what I stand for
Of course, if there’s questions, contact me -!