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4 Bands That Do Branding Right (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Rock bands know how to do branding right. Think about how kids in middle school and high school show devotion to bands in unique ways: they write the names of the bands they like on binders, notebooks and backpacks. They buy t-shirts to flaunt in the hallways. Lunch tables become segregated by who listens to what type of music. It’s all about making a following.

But it’s more than just music that brings people together. Rock music is about the spectacle – the lights, the makeup and the costumes that make the whole experience. And that’s a part of great branding.

Even if your company sells something as tame as mouthwash, branding can work wonders. There’s no such thing as a boring product, just boring brands. And while these bands may be far from the best musicians in the world, their creativity and approach to branding will leave them etched on Trapper Keepers for years to come.


Founded in New York City in the early 1970s, KISS didn’t set out to set the world on fire, but it wasn’t long before they did.

Their iconic stage makeup, tongue-in-cheek interest in the macabre and elaborate, vaudevillian stage performances (with fire, blood-spitting, rockets and more) put KISS ahead of other bands in the era. While their musicianship was on point, selling more than 40 million albums in the US, their branding and marketing set them apart.

When the band decided to shed their makeup in the 1980s, their fanbase declined, and until the reunion tours of the early 2000s, the band remained largely dormant.

At the website of the KISS Army, their ravenous fan club which still boasts a large membership today, you can purchase t-shirts, bottle openers, baby clothes and more.

What you can learn: Find the right image for your brand, stick to it and market it.


Founding members of AC/DC, Angus and Malcom Young, came up with the name of their band after their sister Margaret saw the initials on a sewing machine. From then on, their catchy name was synonymous with electric rock performances.

AC/DC has earned its spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won countless awards and has sold more than 200 albums worldwide – largely because of their endlessly energetic musicianship and stage performances.

What you can learn: Find the energy that matches your brand’s message.


Hailing from the sleepy town of Akron, Ohio, Devo helped found the New Wave movement of the early 1980s with their signature synthesizers and surf-rock guitars. Best known for their hit single, “Whip It,” Devo has kept an enthusiastic underground fan base throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

With witty lyrics, odd humor, bizarre stage costumes and an ability to reinvent themselves seemingly every album, Devo has excelled at branding. Their music and style may be hard to understand – and even harder to categorize – but remains unquestionably unique and definitely Devo.

What you can learn: Don’t be afraid to be a little weird – try something new.


Boston’s own Aerosmith bills itself as “the greatest rock n’ roll band,” with over 150 million records sold worldwide. Their signature sound is equal parts 70s glam rock and blues, with a hard rock attitude that is hard to miss.

What really sets Aerosmith apart – and what keeps them going – is their innovative take on collaboration. By working with hip-hop kings Run-DMC on their single “Walk This Way,” Aerosmith introduced itself to a whole new market.

Their 2004 album “Honkin’ on Bobo” brought them back to their blues roots, and further demonstrated their cross-cultural, genre-bending approach to rock music – and gave them a unique voice in the process.

What you can learn: Expand your horizons and incorporate new elements in your brand to broaden your reach.

Photos courtesy pixelillo



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