Well I have LinkedIn to “thank” for this distraction by suggesting a writing idea: “What made the artist known as #Prince such an icon?”. With Prince’s classic hits tipped for an Official Chart takeover today I felt obliged to note down a few thoughts.
Well where to start?! He was a multi-talented legend with a career spanning my entire life, selling over 100 million records worldwide (considerably more since 21 April). It’s not so much a question of where to start but where would you possibly end!
Hundreds of reasons a legend makes. I have time for just three.
- He was unique. Genuinely unique. Can you think of one artist in the history of music that would compare? His style, his image, his lyrics, his music, his stage presence, his performances. He was a real musical innovator. He embraced individuality and differentiated himself from all the other artists, not just at the time but throughout his career. It really paid off, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time and on the receiving end of numerous prestigious industry accolades.
- He literally was an icon. Although prompted by contractual battles with Warner Bros, in 1993 he changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol. Do you remember the media circus at the time? I’d just started University and it was the talk of the campus, regardless of what you felt for Prince you had an opinion about it. For seven years and five records he was “Symbol” or the “artist formerly known as Prince”. Genuis! For me this is iconic and I could write pages on the power of brands and logos, but Ill save that for another day! I love that he was the “Love Symbol”, if you were going to Symbol yourself, what would you choose?
- He touched people. I mean emotionally. His music was eclectic, original and profound. He got to people. Even those indifferent to Prince would probably admit he had hits that you just couldn’t tune out of. Purple Rain (expected to top the Charts today)… absolutely mind blowing, I get goosebumps just playing through the lyrics in my mind. You could really feel his music whatever the genre, that’s why he has millions of fans and influenced so many other artists.
He really was a revolution that spanned several generations and although he hasn’t been as active in recent years he will be missed and always remembered, the world over.
Reflecting on these three points for a moment, as a marketer I’d say Prince had a great strategy. The perfect combination of features that resulted in solid differentiation, a simple yet memorable brand and material that resonated with his audience emotionally… Not forgetting the natural talent of a very worthy superstar.
Rest in Peace Prince Rogers Nelson.
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