What Punk Bands Teach us About Sales and Marketing

Let’s face it, only some of us will ever become rockstars, but all of us can learn a few things from these masters of branding and sales.

How is Marketing Punk?

Those who have been in bands understand the value in getting your name out there, any group that has tried to break out of their local scene knows the struggle it takes to get noticed. It takes a lot of time, and in a lot of cases luck, to build a fan base who is interested in not only showing up at your concerts, but fans that buy your merch, buy your music and continue to come back whenever you release something new. These are entrepreneurs who people sometimes see as deadbeat college kids going nowhere in life, but what I see is a prime example of the American dream; hustle, hard work, and loyalty. These people understand that a brand matters, the message or story matters, and loyalty to your values keeps people coming back for more.


Why does a band name matter?

Listed below are some of the most common punk band names you will see on t-shirts, merchandise, or in your life at some point. Some of these names might elicit frustration, some might bring back great memories, and some might remind you high school playlist. Regardless of how you feel about them, these are some of the best brands that exist on the planet. Some of the words below don’t even have a meaning outside of the context of a music group, but they can represent so much to people that they almost have a subculture associated with them.

Some of the most popular bands names of all time:

  • AC/DC
  • Green Day
  • Queen
  • The Ramones
  • Blink 182
  • Black Flag
  • The Clash
  • Metallica
  • The Beatles

(I know some of these bands on the same list might be a sin, but there is an educational purpose here)

Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/readers-poll-the-best-punk-rock-bands-of-all-time-15225/

Source: https://loudwire.com/study-most-popular-rock-metal-band-t-shirt/

In an article in Alternative Press concerning band names, they stated, “And how important is a name? Go to South By Southwest. Without fail, the bands people talk about or make an effort to see are the ones with no content but “clever” names. Does anyone remember a single song by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah? What about You Say Party, We Say Die? No. But those bands got crowds on the strength of their intriguing(?) names.” To break down this millennial slang for you, at the SXSW music festival, groups were able to pull more of a crowd when they had an intriguing band name.

Now think about most admired companies in the world the most successful brands tend to use very similar types of principles as the band names above to elicit trust, and have a subculture surrounding them as well.

  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Pfizer
  • Walt Disney
  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Alphabet
  • Starbucks
  • Netflix

source: https://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/

As you go into trying to find the best branding for your band or business to market, there are these high-level concepts of building a culture behind what you do. Make sure to look at how this name will be recognized by people in the future? Will the name grab attention? Can people wear the name on a t-shirt? Can the name scale and still keep its power in the marketplace? Musicians can help us understand a few things in this department.

If it looks good, it sounds good… Image is everything.

Have you ever been to a local concert or performance and the players on stage didn’t look the part? Maybe it was a local group of teenagers playing 80s covers that didn’t quite have the grit behind it, or maybe a solo street performer doing a pop song but looks like they would be better suited for a folk tune. Regardless, when the look and feel of an experience don’t sync up, the experience sounds worse subconsciously. Quality punk bands understand this, which is why they consistently try to attain that look and feel that people expect when they hear their music genre. In sales and marketing, there is a similar principle here.

Craftedagency.com stated, “When you “look the part,” you look like you can deliver on what you promise. It’s like a ticket past the gatekeeper. When you “look the part,” confidence, trust, and reliability are instilled in your potential customer’s mind. They begin to feel like they can not only trust you but count on you to help their business grow.”

“When you look the part, you look like you can deliver on what you promise… confidence, trust, and reliability are instilled in your potential customer’s mind. They begin to feel like they can not only trust you but count on you to help their business grow.”

If you want to gain trust in business, you need to look the part, if you are a mechanic, show up in the work jumpsuit, not a shirt and tie. If you’re an IT software salesperson, don’t show up in gym shorts and a basketball jersey, match what your audience expects. This may seem like common sense, but I have been in too many sales calls and see that many people ignore this idea. When we don’t look the part, we miss the chance to confirm the messages we send to people. Take a page out of the punk rocker manual, and remember to stay consistent with your branding.


Don’t sell out, Ever…

In the world of punk, “selling out” is when, “someone sacrifices artistic integrity in an effort to become more successful or popular;” This typically is met with outrage by fans, and an erosion of the original image promoted by the band. This can happen in business as well, generally when companies or people sacrifice core values to make a buck, the company will loose customers. An example could be a shady or dishonest sales tactic that ruins trust with your customers, or it could be an ad campaign that is against the morals and values of your company, thus eroding more trust. This happens in business all too often as well, so many new companies startup to try and take on the big corporations, and as time goes by, many of them become just as awful as the corporate monsters they set out to fight originally. It’s the goal of every small business to grow, but sacrificing tho core values should never happen.

Take a page out of a true punk rocker’s bible. As you are continually building your brand or brand, stay true to your original principles. Don’t create a culture of excitement, openness, and growth just to squash it with corporate dogma 10 years down the road. True punks are loyal to what they do, so treat your brand that way.


Ignore the protestors.


Criticism is the heart of reaching quality results, if someone doesn’t knock off the rough edges of your work, then oftentimes you won’t reach the next level of quality. Ignoring protestors is different that criticism, it’s just hate. When you ignore protestors it is meant to help us focus on those you impact the most with your brand. Many rock groups seem to gather protestors who hate whatever they do. It isn’t your job to necessarily change the minds of those who dislike your work but to focus on your true fans. In fact, many times those who are so over the top in opposing you, are probably horrible to work within business anyway. Not to mention that when you stand strong in your convictions your true “fans” or customers will always stick with you.


The End of the Line-up


To sum everything up, the name of the brand you represent speaks volumes as you create a culture around it. Be very picky in the process of finding the perfect name for your brand. Perfect your image, be consistent, on how you present yourself everywhere, every time. Don’t “sell-out”, hold to your values and be authentic to yourself as you grow in your brand, establish a mission statement that can scale and create a culture that never sacrifices quality, no matter the pressure. Lastly, ignore your protestors, focus on your true fans, and when you stick to your guns, they’ll stick with you. As you make your brand more punk rock, you’ll find more success.

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