A brand-building lesson from the indie-music industry

Some days ago I found myself insisting that someone buy me the CD version of Tame Impala’s latest album “Currents” as a Christmas present. This didn’t make sense to my friends; they thought that CD’s are antiquated and I should just listen to the album for free on Spotify, or upload it to my phone for easy listening…or why not just download it illegally, no one’s going to know anyway.🙂

“Currents” by Tame Impala (2015)

I found it hard to explain that the reason I need to get the Tame Impala CD was not just because I want to listen to it in my car, but because I love the band so much and buying the CD was the only way I knew how to support them.

Looking back I realized that brands have an interesting takeaway from this experience.

When you’re creating a product or service that transcends “usefulness”, or “specs”, or “features”, and move into creating art — inculcating thoughtfulness, vision, generosity, and making an emotional connection with the user — what happens is that the customer sees something beyond utility–more than its usefulness to her, she’s willing to pay because she appreciates what the brand/business is doing and wants to support it. Like asking for a musical encore or sharing the work of a graphic designer on one’s own social media profile, the customer (appreciator?) is privileged to get you to continue whatever it is you are doing.

(Now that I think about it, that’s probably the reason why so many people line up for each Apple product’s new release, even if these people probably don’t need it yet and the new release might still have plenty of bugs.)

Admittedly, making this kind of connection with the customer is hard to do. I can count the number of brands that I have such an attachment to with one hand: Pixar, Basecamp (formerly 37signals), Warby Parker, Snapchat (yup, Snapchat. It’s a millenial thing)…

Definitely, it’s not easy, it’s going to take a lot of creativity and work, but, judging from what I see, it will be worth it.