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Differentiation In Rock Music

What Can Ted Nugent Teach You About Personal Branding?

I adore classic rock music from the late sixties and the seventies and Ted Nugent is one of the stars that burst onto the scenes in the mid seventies when I started liking my music loud and heavy.

Differentiation By Who

Although I’m currently working with a young soul singer in the UK who has released one album so far to develop a more distinctive sound, image and general presence, you don’t have to want to be a rock or pop star to benefit from developing a strong personal brand.

It’s what I call differentiation by who.

I see it in the world of business advice and self help but it’s also there with celebrity cooks who can build chains of restaurants based on personal celebrity.

In fact, differentiation by who in terms of personal branding is open to any business which can build a strong element of “know, like and trust” with the business owner or key staff members.

Ted Nugent Is A Great Example Of A Personal Brand

According to his website www.tednugent.com

“In the past 50 years, Ted Nugent has done things that most musicians could only ever dream of, including setting attendance records at venues worldwide in 2005 and ’06, was the top grossing act in the world in 1977, ’78 & ’79, and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.”

The Void In the Hard Rock World

In the mid seventies the big British hard rock bands of the early seventies were in decline – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath had all peaked and while punk rock was the “in thing” in 1977 – there was a gap for someone to fill.

That someone was Ted Nugent with his blockbusting first three albums – Ted Nugent, Free For All and Cat Scratch Fever along with other acts like Kiss who are also worth talking about in terms of differentiation.

Ted Nugent – The Wild Man Of Rock’n’Roll

I always saw Ted Nugent as the wild man of rock’n’roll but his main nicknames were:

  • The Detroit Madman
  • The Motor City Mad Man
  • The Nuge

I think it’s time for an example of why – this is Stranglehold from 1976.

If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old

That’s Ted Nugent’s music philosophy summed up in a few words and the phrase was used to promote on of his mid seventies tours.

I must admit that I turn the volume down a few notches now but his music still gives me an adrenalin rush. His typical sound was fast, heavy and raw.

He’s still a top performer now as this video of  Cat Scratch Fever shows from 2010.

Ted Nugent Had A Strong Visual Image

A key element of the Ted Nugent personal brand was how he looked.

Long hair was a hard rock requirement and facial hair was common but no one else wore animal skins and loin cloths.

Ted Nugent And His Controversial Views

Another part of his personal brand was the way he courted controversy with some views that people found offensive while others lined up in support.

  • A strong anti-drugs and anti-alcohol stance
  • Pro-guns and the right to bear arms
  • Pro-hunting – he even owns a hunting lodge according to Wikipedia. I can’t agree with him on this as I believe canned hunting is sick. I can admire the bravery of the old Maasai warrior tradition of killing a lion on his own before he can become man because I know how big lions are and I wouldn’t do it but shooting a defenceless animal that can’t escape is wrong.
  • Right wing political views

In The World Of The Bland, Ted Nugent Stands Out

You don’t have to like Ted Nugent or his music but he does create a lasting impression and stands for something.

His enduring success show that what he does works.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning

What If All Rock Bands Sounded Like Led Zeppelin?

While Led Zeppelin aren’t my favourite rock band from the 1970s, they are such an archetypal group and widely copied.

Let’s take a look at what made Led Zeppelin special and wonder what it would be like if more Led Zeppelin soundalikes had made it big.

Led Zeppelin – Why Are They So Special?

The Led Zeppelin Band Members

The band members all had very distinct profiles:

  • Robert Plant – the sexy bare-chested lead singer in tight trousers and with the high shrieking voice.
  • Jimmy Page – the guitar hero with interest in the occult.
  • John Bonham – the hard drinking, thunderous drummer.
  • John Paul Jones – the quiet, reserved bassist and keyboard player.

Led Zeppelin The Biggest Band In the World

For much of the early seventies, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and The Who battled for the title of the biggest band in the world.

According to Wikipedia, Led Zeppelin are still the fourth best selling artists in the United States although they are a long way behind The Beatles.

No wonder they were such a big influence on up-and-coming band and were regularly imitated.

Top 10 Led Zeppelin Rip-Off Bands

Personally I always thought it was lazy journalism. For example, I remember reading many comments that Aerosmith sounded like Led Zep but looked like The Rolling Stones.

It’s also ironic as Led Zeppelin themselves plundered the blues heritage as they took ideas and adapted them.

What If All Rock Bands Sounded Like Led Zeppelin?

It would be so boring.

Variety is the spice of life and a pale imitation of Led Zeppelin is just that.

But we see imitation so often in business.

If something works well and proves popular, there is a huge temptation to copy it.

Too often product-markets converge into commodities where preference is driven by price since there’s little difference in what you get.

But success in rock music is different.

There are commonalities within musical genres but each successful group creates its own identity which makes it unique.

Robert Plant was born in West Bromwich, about four miles away from where I live. His big rival as a heavy rock singer Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath was born in Aston, Birmingham and that’s about three miles away in the opposite direction. They were even born in the same year, 1948.

While Zeppelin and Sabbath were both pioneers of rock, their sound is very different. I can imagine some fans loving one and hating the other. Personally I preferred Deep Purple and The Who to both.

in 3 – Your Strategic Positioning